History Of Royal Tunbridge Wells
|History Of Royal Tunbridge Wells|
The town was founded around the Chalybeate Spring discovered in 1606 by Dudley, Lord North, a courtier to James I. The high iron content of the waters was believed to have medicinal qualities and the town developed as a spa town. It was named after the nearby town of Tonbridge, which was at the time spelled "Tunbridge". The similar names and alternative spellings have been a source of confusion ever since, especially to uninformed people travelling on the London-Hastings railway line. The spring can still be visited in the Pantiles area of the town, surrounded by Regency architecture.
The prefix "Royal" dates to 1909, when King Edward VII officially recognised the popularity of the town amongst royalty and aristocracy by bestowing the town with its official "Royal" title. To this day, Royal Tunbridge Wells is one of only two towns in England to be granted this, the other being Royal Leamington Spa.
Layout of the town
The town centre is separated, roughly, into two sections.
The southern part of the centre is the older part of the town, containing at its heart the "Village" area. It is here that The Pantiles can be found, which contain the spa which made the town so famous. This area is popular with tourists and residents alike, and live music is usually played in the old bandstand through the summer period.
Also on the southern side of the town is the Spa Valley Railway which operates heritage trains from Tunbridge Wells West Station to nearby High Rocks and Groombridge.
The north is the more recent part of the town containing the Royal Victoria Place Shopping centre (owned by The Westfield Group) as well as the pedestrian area and many retail shopping outlets. This part of the town also contains some pieces of noted architecture. The north part of the town is also home to the Assembly Halls and the Trinity Theatre (formerly Holy Trinity Church), which offers live comedy, drama and musicals. The old cinema is soon to be demolished and replaced by a nightclub, shops and bars.
At the end of Lime Hill Road is the newly refurbished, but controversial, Millennium Clock, designed by a local sculptor.
In the adjoining village of Rusthall can be found the peculiarly-shaped Toad Rock, a popular leisure spot on Rusthall Common.