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Location Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England

Royal Tunbridge Wells is a town in Kent, England, 30 miles (50 kilometres) southeast of central London. It lies close to the border with East Sussex on the northern edge of the High Weald, whose sandstone geology is exemplified by the rock formation High Rocks. The town was a spa in the Restoration and a fashionable resort in the mid-1700s under Beau Nash when the Pantiles, and its chalybeate spring, attracted visitors who wished to take the waters. Though its popularity as a spa town waned with the advent of sea bathing, the town still derives much of its income from tourism.

The town has a population of around 56,500, and is the administrative centre of Tunbridge Wells Borough and in the parliamentary constituency of Tunbridge Wells.

Open spaces[edit | edit source]

Friends of Calverley Grounds on facebook, community group looking after the park in the centre of Tunbridge Wells

The Pantiles and its chalybeate spring have been the landmarks most readily associated with Royal Tunbridge Wells ever since the founding of the town, though the 5-metre-high (16 ft) steel Millennium Clock at the Fiveways area in the centre of town, designed by local sculptor Jon Mills for the Millennium celebrations, stakes a claim to be a modern landmark.

Tunbridge Wells contains green spaces that range from woodland to maintained grounds and parks. The most substantial areas of woodland are the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons, which comprise 250 acres (100 hectares) of wood and heathland and are close to the centre of the town. Open areas of the common are popular picnic spots, and there is a maintained cricket ground situated next to Wellington Rocks.

Located in the town centre opposite the railway station, Calverley Grounds is a historic park with ornamental gardens and a bandstand (now demolished). The park was part of Mount Pleasant House, which was converted into a hotel in 1837, until 1920, when the borough council purchased it for the town. The bandstand dated from 1924 and was damaged by an incendiary bomb in 1940 and parts of the metalwork were sold for scrap metal. The subsequently repaired bandstand and the adjacent pavilion were intended to form part of a new centre to the park but were never completed. The bandstand was demolished in 2010 although the pavilion still exists as a café. Just inside the entrance to the park coming from the station is a memorial to Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, hero of the Battle of Britain, who lived and died in Tunbridge Wells.

Dunorlan Park, at 78 acres (32 hectares) the largest maintained green space in the town, was once a private garden that was part of the millionaire Henry Reed's now demolished mansion, and only passed into public possession in 1941. The gardens were designed by the Victorian gardener James Green, but over the years they became overgrown, making it hard to distinguish the full scope of Marnock's design. In 1996 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to restore the park in line with the original designs, and in 2003/4 Dunorlan underwent a £2.8 million restoration. The River Teise rises in the park, and two dams on it have created a pond and a boating lake. Dunorlan is listed as Grade II on English Heritage's National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Great Culverden Park is a small, 9+12-acre woodland in the Mount Ephraim area behind the site of the old Kent and Sussex Hospital and is the remnant grounds of the previous Great Culverden House designed by Decimus Burton that used to stand on Mount Ephraim.

The oldest public park in Royal Tunbridge Wells is Grosvenor Recreation Ground designed by landscape architect Robert Marnock, located close to the town centre on Quarry Road. It was opened in 1889 by Mayor John Stone-Wigg, on the land that was formerly Caverley Waterworks. The lake area with dripping wells remains, but the other lakes, bandstand and open air pool have all gone. There is a bowls club, café, toilets and children's play area, including cycle track. It is adjoined by the Hilbert recreation ground, parts of which have been designated as a local nature reserve by the Kent High Weald Partnership; these include Roundabout Woods and the adjoining grass areas. The Hilbert Recreation Ground was donated to the town by Cllr Edward Strange in 1931, on the site of the form John Beane's Charity Farm. There are two football pitches, built as part of the King George V playing fields scheme, and a skatepark.

Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]

Bedgebury Forest is a 10.5 square kilometres (2,600 acres) forest surrounding Bedgebury National Pinetum, near Flimwell in Kent. In contrast to the National Pinetum, which contains exclusively coniferous trees, the forest contains both deciduous and coniferous species. It forms part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is one of the so-called "Seven Wonders Of The Weald". Bedgebury Forest has facilities for cycling, mountain biking, riding, orienteering and adventure play.

Ethical consumerism[edit | edit source]

The Zero Waste Company

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle[edit | edit source]

Pemburyrecycle

Food[edit | edit source]

Cranbrook Union Mill

Resources[edit | edit source]

Community resources[edit | edit source]

Cranbrook Community Centre on facebook.com

Near you[edit | edit source]

Ashford - Maidstone - Sevenoaks - Tonbridge

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See also[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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Authors Phil Green
Published 2022
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