Tunbridge Wells

In Tunbridge Wells, beautiful scenery and history blend in perfect harmony for all ages and all interests. It does have the prefix Royal too, which dates back to 1909 when Edward VII granted the town the regal title to celebrate its popularity over the years among members of the royal family. Royal Tunbridge Wells is one of only three towns in England to have been granted this regal title.

It was also famous and popular for many years after a medicinal spa – the Chalybeate Spring – was discovered in 1606. You can still have a ‘dip’ of the spring, like many in the past would come for miles to ‘take the waters’ for its supposed restorative effects. Afterwards, stroll around the Pantiles and admire the architecture that is a signature of the town. This is old England in its true splendour – pedestrian lanes, listed buildings and a myriad of independent outlets and galleries.

Art and architecture are not its only attractions, Tunbridge Wells is home to three entertainment venues such as the 1,000-seat, multi-purpose Assembly Hall in the heart of the town. There is also the Forum, a popular live music venue showcasing a range of local and national acts. Last but certainly not least is the Trinity Theatre and Arts Centre situated inside the once Holy Trinity Church, a building that was saved by the community and now also presents a range of shows including community and youth theatre.

Shopping malls, the Clue Cracker escape room, Chimera Climbing Centre, the ODEON and Kino Hawkhurst cinemas offer more modern traditional attractions. Outdoors space for such a busy town is also not in short supply. The area has interesting rock formations, including Toad Rock and the Wellington Rocks to be found on the town’s common, with the High Rocks also worth a visit. The latter, set in acres of breathtaking sandstone rocks interlinked with eleven bridges, provides scenic walks in a tranquil woodland setting. Once a stone age camp, now a National Monument (please see our separate listings on all these rocks for more details).

The Rusthall Common and Tunbridge Wells Common – home to Toad and Wellington rocks – feature lakes, ponds and woods which are central. Firm favourites of locals and visitors, the expanse of great outside spaces also includes Dunorlan Park, a little outside Tunbridge Wells, featuring pond dipping, a play area, and even boating on the lake.

Clue Cracker escape games in Tunbridge Wells
Clue Cracker

Groombridge Place is a remarkable 17th Century moated country estate. Sculpted formal gardens and 200 acres of parkland, with award winning gardens and an enchanted forest with giant tree swings, raised boardwalk with zip wires and rope swings, are a snapshot of its many attractions. Bedgebury is also an award-winning visitor attraction offering a variety of healthy outdoor activity, open all year round. This National Pinetum, home to over 12,000 trees, offers walking, cycling, running and orienteering trails, as well as Go Ape treetop challenges, play areas and bike hire. Regular events are held throughout the year.

Bewl Water has a fantastic range of leisure and recreational activities, an aqua park, fishing, cycling and boating, on and around the reservoir with a centre, conference venue, restaurant and café on the shoreline.

Classic architecture, historic houses, ruins, famous rocks, and rock n’ roll venues – there’s so much is this tradition thriving town.

Spa Valley Railway is a great way to see even more of the area, stopping at many of the places of interest. It is easy to see why their slogan is ‘a destination at every station’.

Salomons Estate Museum within a stunning Victorian mansion, designed by the acclaimed architect Decimus Burton. Set in 36 acres of rolling gardens, the museum’s unique collection of paintings, photographs and mementoes documents the history of the lives of the Salomons family.

Also steeped in history, Scotney Castle is a 14th Century moated castle, set in a wooded estate with over 780 acres to explore, tours of the house are self-guided, but volunteers are on hand for further information. The estate is open all year round offering a variety of walks through its Grade I listed parkland, woodland and hop farm.

Going even further back in time, there is the Bayham Old Abbey on the Kent Sussex border. The impressive ruins, built from golden local sandstone, include much of the 13th to the 15th Century church, set in grounds designed by famous landscape gardener Humphry Repton, who also planned the grounds of Kenwood House in London.

Spa Valley Railway is a great way to see even more of the area, stopping at many of the places of interest. It is easy to see why their slogan is ‘a destination at every station’.

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Picture credits top to bottom: © She Buckley unsplash.com © Clue Cracker © Spa Valley Railway.

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Highlights of What’s On and Things To Do in Tunbridge Wells

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