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10 good reasons to visit Tunbridge Wells

PUBLISHED: 08:51 30 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:40 20 February 2013

10 good reasons to visit Tunbridge Wells

10 good reasons to visit Tunbridge Wells

A leafy resting spot 400 years ago, today Tunbridge Wells is elegant, vibrant and still a great place for recreation and refreshment

10 good reasons to visit Tunbridge Wells


A leafy resting spot 400 years ago, today Tunbridge Wells is elegant, vibrant and still a great place for recreation and refreshment


Promenade on the Pantiles


Named after its original non-slip paving stones, this is a marvellous two-storey colonnaded walkway of shops where all the buildings are painted sparkling white. The stores are mainly upmarket and home-oriented, such as art galleries and antique dealers, plus the old Corn Exchange building (once a theatre), that is now home to the Pantiles Shopping Arcade. The Tourist Information Centre is in The Old Fish Market building here.



Shopping heaven


The huge range of large and small retailers in Mount Pleasant and the High Street is complemented by Westfield Royal Victoria Place and Great Hall Arcade shopping malls. At the bottom of town the Old High Street and Chapel Place are home to many small independents,including jewellers and fashion boutiques.


A book to treasure


Tunbridge Wells, by Roddy Paine and Catherine Wallis (ISBN-13: 978-0953355310). Local photographer Roddy Paine (01892 533411), whose pictures illustrate this article, says: I was inspired to write the book because I felt there was a lack of contemporary photography in print. The idea stemmed from when I was driving on an early frosty morning and the sun was just coming up and casting a lovely warm glow across Tunbridge Wells, a picture I felt I just had to record. Then I produced a well-received calendar, encouraging me to create the book. Catherine Wallis suggested putting some words to the pictures and researched little-known facts. Id describe the book as an interesting and different record of the town as it is today.


WIN


To win a copy of Tunbridge Wells, by Roddy Paine and Catherine Wallis, please answer the following question:


To what does Tunbridge Wells owe its existence?


The creation of a well


A Royal decree


The discovery of a mineral spring



Email your answer, with the subject line Tunbridge Wells, to editor@kent-life.co.uk on send a postcard to Kent Life, Archant KOS Media, Apple Barn, Hythe Road, Smeeth, nr Ashford TN25 6SS


Closing date for entries: 31 January 2013



A night at the theatre


The Assembly Hall Theatre (01892 530613, TN1 2LU) is an excellent venue, and shows this month include: The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, 4-9 Feb, Fairport Convention, 1 Feb, The Soldiers, 11 Feb (a musical), Tosca, 12 Feb, Carmen, 13 Feb and Harry Hill, 15-16 Feb. Trinity Theatre and Arts Centre (01892 678 678, TN1 1JP) is staging My Gay Best Friend (16 Mar), starring acclaimed local actress and TV personality Louise Jameson.



Inspiring Women


The Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery (01892 554171, TN1 1JN) hosts six exhibitions a year, has a local studies archive and the worlds largest collection of Tunbridge Ware (decoratively inlaid woodwork items). You can see dolls, toys and games, and over 28,000 natural history exhibits. A special exhibition Inspiring Women runs from 19 Jan to 30 Mar.



Wine and dine


Restaurants: Woods Restaurant and Bars, 01892 614411, TN2 5TH, Thackerays, 01892 511921, TN1 1EA, Chandelier Restaurant at the Spa Hotel, 01892 520331, TN4 8XJ, Hotel du Vin and Bistro, 01892 526455, TN1 2LY, The Barn, 01892 510424, TN1 1NU. Pubs: The Ragged Trousers, 01892 542715, TN2 5TN, The Grove Tavern, 01892 526549, TN1 1YR, The Duke of York, 01892 517619, TN2 5TD.



A walk in the park


The Grove is the oldest park in town, with a number of impressive trees, while Donorlan Park is the largest, having a pond, boating lake, Grecian temple, oak trees, its own Chalybeate spring, plus a river running through it. Calverley Grounds has a sunken Italian garden, rose beds, bowling green and caf, shrubs, trees and wild plants.



Spring of life


Follow the Pantiles as far as you can go and you come to St Charles the Martyr Church, built beside the earliest settlement, Tunbridge Wellss first permanent building. Near here is the towns original Chalybeate spring. The church has a fine ceiling, created by Henry Doogood, Sir Christopher Wrens chief plasterer.



Rooftop views


Mount Ephraim is a lovely broad road steeply ascending above town, from where theres a fantastic view of Tunbridge Wells cascading rows of rooftops and The Common, with its famous Wellington Rocks. Along here is the grand Royal Wells Hotel (01892 511188, TN4 8BE) and a quaint Georgian cottage called St Helens. Gibraltar Cottage (1700), built right up against a rock wall, is on nearby Castle Road.



High Rocks


These are dramatic sandstone rocks in a woodland setting, much loved by climbers, walkers and families with an adventurous streak. Theres free parking, the eponymous ivy-clad public house (01892 515532, TN3 9JJ) is a popular wedding venue that also stages regular live music events and dances, incorporating bars, a dance floor and Giuseppes restaurant. Theres a garden and terrace and in summer the Spa Valley Railway trains stop in the grounds.



Getting there


Tunbridge Wells is midway between London and Hastings, a half hours drive from the M25s junction 5, along the A21, then the A26, via Southborough. The station is at the bottom of town, opposite Hoopers, and has regular links to London.


Satnav postcode: TN1 1JN




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