6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

Spotlight on: Tonbridge

PUBLISHED: 14:26 27 June 2015 | UPDATED: 14:26 27 June 2015

Tonbridge Castle

Tonbridge Castle


During the summer Tonbridge really comes into its own, with an outdoor swimming pool, parks for family picnics and its popular Arts Festival on Castle Lawn

1 Swim in the sunshine

Once all swimming was done in the open air but now there are precious few outdoor pools. Tonbridge Pool (01732 367449) has 
the best of both worlds. With a 25-metre indoor fitness pool, teaching and toddler pools, plus a heated outdoor pool open all summer, people come from miles around 
to enjoy the holiday feeling of swimming in the sunshine. Add to that a spa and exercise classes and there’s always plenty going on.

2 Take a tour of the castle

Tonbridge Castle (01732 358198) may only retain the gatehouse from what was once the finest example of a motte-and-bailey castle in Britain but it is still well worth taking an audio tour (which lasts around an hour) to guide you around the gatehouse, explaining what life was like there over its 900-year history. Its pretty grounds overlook the River Medway and the castle lawn, a natural amphitheatre, is ideal for the many outdoor events held here.

3 Jane Austen links

Jane Austen’s father George was born in Tonbridge in 1731 and and her grandparents are buried at the parish church of St Peter and St Paul. You can explore the Tonbridge Jane would have known on a fascinating circular walk, In Austen Family Footsteps, put together by the Jane Austen Society and the borough council. You’ll see the castle, once leased by Jane’s great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Weller, Tonbridge School, where Jane’s father was a pupil and later returned to teach, and Chauntlers, where Jane’s great-grandmother was raised.

Download the walk from www.tmbc.gov.uk/services/leisure-and-culture/events.

4 Shop and eat

There are some real gems in Tonbridge these days. Finch House (01732 367770) is 
a wonderful independent café and The Ivy House (01732 771249) is a great choice for something more substantial. New arrivals on the High Street are wholefoods café Basil (01732 354637) and The Bakehouse At 124 (01732 360382). With shops like Gorgeous George (01732 369871), a boutique gift store and art gallery, and Mr Books Bookshop (01732 363000), there are plenty of places to browse after lunch. Don’t forget to get your Tonbridge Loyalty Card stamped at participating outlets and you can enter a monthly draw every six stamps to win £50 of vouchers to spend in town (www.tonbridgetownteam.org.uk).

5 Farmers Markets

Tonbridge has the biggest Farmers’ Market in Kent, offering around 85 stalls 
on the second Sunday of every month, 
with everything from artisan bread to plants, crafts and seasonal fruit and veg. 
As if one award-winning market wasn’t enough (Tonbridge won the first Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Farmers’ Market of the Year award), just up the road is the 2014 winner, Shipbourne Farmers Market, held at St Giles Church (TN11 9PF) every Thursday.

6 At your leisure

Just behind the High Street, the Angel Centre (01732 359966) is the town’s main sports complex, providing indoor sports halls, function rooms and film screenings, children’s parties and fairs. It also has a great gym and dozens of weekly exercise classes, including Insanity, Yoga and Body Pump.

7 Get some fresh air

Tonbridge Racecourse (TN10 3JF) in the centre of town is a huge 69-acre site with a sports ground, crazy golf course, riverside walk, summer snack hut, skate park, mini golf course and probably the best children’s play area in the area. It leads to the refurbished Tonbridge Memorial Gardens, where a statue and commemorative stone were unveiled last year at an opening ceremony by The Duke of Kent. A little further out is Haysden Country Park (TN11 9BE), a designated Local Nature Reserve with lakes, cycle routes, walks and picnic areas. A woodland area, known as the Heusenstamm Friendship Wood, has a new sign explaining its history. After the great storm of 1987, the German town of Heusenstamm sent a gift of 400 saplings to Tonbridge, with which is twinned.

8 A trip to the theatre

Tonbridge boasts two theatres. The Oast Theatre (01732 363849, TN10 3AN) is home to Tonbridge Theatre and Arts Club and this month sees performances of The Thrill Of Love (27 June-4 July) and a farce called Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue S’il Vous Plait (25 July-1 August). And at Tonbridge School, the EM Forster Theatre (01732 304241, TN9 1JP) will be hosting a number of events including Dario Fo’s Accidental Death Of An Anarchist (2 July).

9 Take to the river

Ten years after the last boat took residents and visitors for a relaxing tour of the Medway, the service is back. The new electric launch Enid May gives up to 12 people at a time a 50-minute ride, hearing tales of the area’s history from the skipper and getting up close to the river’s wildlife. Also on offer are several rowing boats for hire. The service runs from the Big Bridge in the town centre and will run daily through the school summer holidays. Visit: www.tonbridgerivertrips.co.uk

10 Tonbridge Arts Festival

This popular festival (10-12 July) will focus on the performing arts. Look out for The Best of Tonbridge Talent on the Friday night to spot local performers including Irish dancers and the town’s very own Rock Choir. Saturday sees a mass Morris Dancing display in the morning and an All About The ‘80s concert (featuring Phil Collins tribute band No Jacket Required) in the evening. The Sunday afternoon concert offers classics and show tunes from the Brompton Military Wives’ Choir, who will be accompanied by two big military bands, raising money for Help For Heroes.

Visit: www.tonbridgeartsfestival.co.uk n

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:21

Drink in the sight and smell of our native blooms on one of these wonderful wildflower walks

Read more

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 2019

Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit and throughout the open garden season you'll find an array of stunning choices. Here's a selection of our favourites

Read more
April 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whether it's a castle, stately country manor house or seafront hotel, Kent has the perfect venue

Read more
May 2019

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

Read more
May 2019

With its quirky shops, Norman castle, ancient cathedral and riverside setting, even Charles Dickens would agree it doesn't get much better than historic Rochester

Read more
Monday, April 29, 2019

Kent is not only home to many stunning beaches but also has some of the safest and cleanest in the country, many with prestigious Blue Flag status

Read more

From a gentle stroll to admire the flowers to expert-led walks, there's something for every May garden fan to enjoy

Read more
May 2019

Margate has one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it's been packing in the day-trippers for centuries and now boasts added cultural regeneration

Read more
May 2019

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life