Place:Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England

NameTunbridge Wells
Alt namesTunbridge Wellssource: from redirect
Tunbridge-Wellssource: from redirect
Royal Tunbridge Wellssource: Wikipedia
TypeChapelry, Civil parish, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates51.132°N 0.263°E
Located inKent, England
See alsoTonbridge, Kent, Englandancient parish of which it was part
Tonbridge Lowey Hundred, Kent, Englandancient county division in which it was located
Tunbridge Wells District, Kent, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area 1974-1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog

NOTE: It is important to note that Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are two different towns 4 miles apart. Until 1830 they were part of the same parish. Please read the following notes carefully.


the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Royal Tunbridge Wells (usually shortened to Tunbridge Wells) is a town in west Kent, England, about 31 miles (50 km) southeast of central London, bordering the county of East Sussex. It is situated at the northern edge of the High Weald, the sandstone geology of which is exemplified by the rock formations at the Wellington Rocks and High Rocks.

The town came into being as a spa in Georgian times and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Beau Nash when the Pantiles and its chalybeate spring attracted visitors who wished to take the waters. Though its popularity waned with the advent of sea bathing, the town remains popular and derives some 30% of its income from the tourist industry.

The town has a population of around 56,500 (21st century estimate) and since 1974 is the administrative centre of Tunbridge Wells Borough.

Until 1833 Tunbridge Wells was a chapelry in the ancient parish of Tonbridge. Most churches in Tunbridge Wells are of later dates than 1833.

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Evidence suggests that during the Iron Age people farmed the fields and mined the iron-rich rocks in the Tunbridge Wells area, and excavations in 1940 and 1957–61 by James Money at High Rocks uncovered the remains of a defensive hill-fort. It is thought that the site was occupied into the era of Roman Britain, and the area continued to be part of the Wealden iron industry until its demise in the late eighteenth century – indeed, an iron forge remains in the grounds of Bayham Abbey, in use until 1575 and documented until 1714.

The area which is now Tunbridge Wells was part of the parish of Speldhurst for hundreds of years, but the origin of the town as it is today, however, came in the seventeenth century. In 1606 Dudley, Lord North, a courtier to James I who was staying at a hunting lodge in Eridge in the hope that the country air might improve his ailing constitution, discovered a chalybeate spring. He drank from the spring and, when his health improved, he became convinced that it had healing properties. He persuaded his rich friends in London to try it, and by the time Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I, visited in 1630 it had established itself as a spa retreat. By 1636 it had become so popular that two houses were built next to the spring to cater for the visitors, one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen,[1] and in 1664 Lord Muskerry, Lord of the Manor, enclosed it with a triangular stone wall, and built a hall "to shelter the dippers in wet weather."

Until 1676 little permanent building took place – visitors were obliged either to camp on the downs or to find lodgings at Southborough,[2] – but at this time houses and shops were erected on the walks, and every "convenient situation near the springs" was built upon.[1] Also in 1676 a subscription for a "chapel of ease" was opened, and in 1684 the Church of King Charles the Martyr was duly built[1] and the town began to develop around it. In 1787 Edward Hasted described the new town as consisting of four small districts, "named after the hills on which they stand, Mount Ephraim, Mount Pleasant and Mount Sion; the other is called the Wells..."


The 1680s saw a building boom in the town: carefully planned shops were built beside the long Pantiles promenade (then known as the Walks), and the Mount Sion road, on which lodging house keepers were to build, was laid out in small plots. Tradesmen in the town dealt in the luxury goods demanded by their patrons, which would certainly have included Tunbridge ware, a kind of decoratively inlaid woodwork.[1]

"They have made the wells very commodious by the many good building all about it and two or three miles around which are lodgings for the company that drink the waters. All the people buy their own provisions at the market, which is just by the wells and is furnished with great plenty of all sorts of fish and fowl. The walk which is between high trees on the market side which are shops full of all sorts of toys, silver, china, milliners and all sorts of curious wooden ware besides which there are two large coffee houses for tea, chocolate etc. and two rooms for the lottery and hazard board (i.e. for gambling)." —Celia Fiennes, 1697


Following Dr Richard Russell's 1750 treatise advocating sea water as a treatment for diseases of the glands, fashions in leisure changed and sea bathing became more popular than visiting the spas, which resulted in fewer visitors coming to the town. Nevertheless, the advent of turnpike roads gave Tunbridge Wells better communications – on weekdays a public coach made nine return journeys between Tunbridge Wells and London, and postal services operated every morning except Monday and every evening except Saturday. During the eighteenth century the growth of the town continued, as did its patronage by the wealthy leisured classes – it received celebrity cachet from visits by figures such as Cibber, Johnson, Garrick and Richardson[2] – and in 1735 Richard (Beau) Nash appointed himself as master of ceremonies for all the entertainments that Tunbridge Wells had to offer. He remained in this position until his death in 1762, and under his patronage the town reached the height of its popularity as a fashionable resort.

By the early nineteenth century Tunbridge Wells experienced growth as a place for the well-to-do to visit and make their homes. It became a fashionable resort town again following visits by the Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,[2] and benefited from a new estate on Mount Pleasant and the building of the Trinity church in 1827,[2] and improvements made to the town and the provision of facilities such as gas lighting and a police service meant that by 1837 the town population had swelled to 9,100.[3] In 1842 an omnibus service was set up that ran from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells, enabling visitors to arrive from London within two hours,[4] and in 1845 the town was linked to the railway network via a branch from South Eastern Railway's London-Hastings Hastings Line at Tonbridge. During this time Decimus Burton developed John Ward's Calverley Park estate.

In 1889 the town was awarded the status of a Borough, and it entered the 20th century in a prosperous state. 1902 saw the opening of an Opera House, and in 1909 the town received its "Royal" prefix. Due to its position in South East England, during the First World War Tunbridge Wells was made a headquarters for the army, and its hospitals were used to treat soldiers who had been sent home with a "blighty wound"; the town also received 150 Belgian refugees. The Second World War affected Tunbridge Wells in a different way – it became so swollen with refugees from London that accommodation was severely strained. Over 3,800 buildings were damaged by bombing, but only 15 people lost their lives.[4]

Toponymy

Edward Hasted made the assertion that although the wells were originally named the "Queen's-Wells", they soon took on the name of Tunbridge Wells due to their proximity to the town of Tonbridge (then known as "Tunbridge"):

In compliment to [queen Henrietta Maria's] doctor, Lewis Rowzee, in his treatise on them, calls these springs the Queen's-wells; but this name lasted but a small time, and they were soon afterwards universally known by that of Tunbridge-wells, which names they acquired from the company usually residing at Tunbridge town, when they came into these parts for the benefit of drinking the waters —Edward Hasted, 1797[5]

The prefix "Royal" dates to 1909, when King Edward VII granted the town its official "Royal" 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 (the others being Royal Leamington Spa and Royal Wootton Bassett, which became a Royal town in 2011).

Although "Wells" has a plural form, it refers to the principal source, the chalybeate spring in the Pantiles (where the waters were taken).

Research Tips

  • Kent County Council Archive, Local Studies and Museums Service. James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ. This incorporates the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone and the East Kent Archives Centre near Dover.
  • Canterbury Cathedral Archives see the Archives web pages on the Canterbury Catherdral site.
  • For information on the area around the Medway Towns, have a look at Medway Council's CityArk site.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Kent illustrates the parish boundaries of Kent when rural districts were still in existence and before Greater London came into being. The map publication year is 1931. An earlier map of 1900 may also be useful. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. Maps in this series are now downloadable for personal use.
  • Census records for Kent are available on FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first site is free; the other two are pay sites but have access to microfilmed images. Steve Archer produced a very useful round-up of the available sources, but this information may not be up to date.
  • Registration Districts in Kent for the period 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 The full database from Kent Archives Office, Maidstone, has been available online from FamilySearch since June 2016.
  • Kent had five family history societies (now only four):
  • Volume 2 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1926) is available online through the auspices of British History Online. It includes accounts of the early history of Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals, and of several sites now within the conurbation of London.
  • Volume 3 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1932) This includes the text of, and the index to, the Kent Domesday survey. It has been provided by the Kent Archaeological Society.
  • In place of the other volumes of the Victoria County History, British History Online has transcriptions of the numerous volumes of The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent by Edward Hasted (originally published 1797)
  • English Jurisdictions 1851, a parish finding aid provided by FamilySearch, is particularly helpful in locating parishes in large ancient towns and cities like Canterbury.
  • Kent Probate Records Numerous links provided by Maureen Rawson
  • GENUKI lists other possible sources, however, it does not serve Kent so well as it does some other counties.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Royal Tunbridge Wells. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.