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Tunbridge Wells

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South East England : Kent : Tunbridge Wells
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Royal Tunbridge Wells [1] is a town in West Kent on the border with East Sussex, in the South East of England.

Understand[edit]

Tunbridge Wells was founded in the 17th century following the discovery of the Chalybeate Spring in 1606. The waters from the spring were said to have restorative properties, and so Tunbridge Wells grew into a thriving spa resort town. Queen Victoria regularly travelled down from London to "take the waters", and in 1909 King Edward VII officially granted the town its "Royal" prefix (although this is rarely used by the inhabitants any more).

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The main roads into Tunbridge Wells are the A21, which runs from the M25 down to Hastings, and the A26, which goes to Brighton. The A264 runs through East Grinstead to Crawley and Gatwick Airport [2].

By train[edit]

Tunbridge Wells Station is ideally situated in between the Pantiles and the start of the main high street. It is on the London (Charing Cross/Waterloo/London Bridge) to Hastings route; trains are operated by Southeastern [3], tel. 08457 48 49 50.

London is between 40 and 55 minutes away, depending on whether the train is direct or a stopper service. Tickets cost £17.60 single, £17.70 return or more if you want to leave before 0930.

Tonbridge (10 minutes by train from Tunbridge Wells) is the main train station in West Kent; any destination other than those on the London/Hastings main line will require a change here.

By bus[edit]

There are regular buses to/from Brighton 7 days a week - the journey takes around 2 hours. There are also services to/from Maidstone and Tonbridge.

Get around[edit]

The centre of Tunbridge Wells is fairly small, and can easily be travelled on foot. As with most other towns in England, the town is well serviced by buses and taxis.

By car[edit]

  • U4 Vehicle hire [4] +44 1892 520273

By bus[edit]

Many bus companies provide local bus services in and around Tunbridge Wells.

Paper timetables can be obtained at the Gateway [5]

Buy your ticket from the driver when you board the bus.

By taxi[edit]

The main taxi rank is at the train station, although you can order a taxi by telephone to pick you up from anywhere.

  • Streamline - +44 1892 511911 [6]
  • County Cars - +44 1892 541666
  • Crown Cars - +44 1732 368111
  • Starline Taxis - +44 1892 531191
  • MS Executive Chauffeurs [7] - +44 1892 513042 or 0800 980 7252
  • Kent Chauffeurs [8]

See[edit][add listing]

  • Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, Civic Way, tel: +44 1892 554171, e-mail: museum@tunbridgewells.gov.uk, [9]. Open M-Sa, 9.30-17.00 (closed bank holidays and Easter Saturday). From Victorian oil paintings and archaeology to historic fashions and toys. Admission free.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Walk along The Pantiles, the oldest part of the town, and sample the waters from the Chalybeate Spring (open daily from Easter to September). Great in warm weather when the various pubs and restaurants put out table and chairs and the clientele along here spill out into it giving it a great atmosphere.
  • Take a walk in the High Rocks, impressive sandstone outcrops linked by eleven bridges that provide scenic walks in acres of peaceful woodland
  • Go swimming, play tennis or have a game of squash at Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre, St Johns Road, tel: +44 1892 540744, [10].
  • Ride the Spa Valley Railway from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge, Tel: +44 1892 537715. Carefully restored steam trains operate through 5 miles of glorious countryside. Call at High Rocks (for High Rocks!) and Groombridge (For Groombridge Place). Operates from Late March to End October plus December. Standard Admission (return travel): Adult £5.00, Child & Over 60s £4.00. Family & joint tickets with Groombridge Place also available. [11]
  • Visit the Salomons Museum, [12]. Admission: Free!
  • Penshurst place gardens, [13]. Very near Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge is not as upmarket but houses this stunning ancestral home with gardens.
  • Go to 'Halls bookshop, a second hand book shop in Chapel Place. The interior is incredible and looks like something out of a Harry Potter movie. It is very quaint with books dating back from the early 20th century (I found one from 1910) including first editions.
  • Have a drink in the Opera House pub (owned by Wetherspoons), so named as it used to be an opera house. The interior is mostly intact and pretty magnificent to explore from the comfort of a chair with a cheap drink.
  • Tunbridge Wells is a shoppers paradise if you like designer clothes in a mellow setting with oodles of history. A long wait at Pizza Express and Carluccios - booking imperative.
  • Listen to Live Acoustic Music every Sunday Night from 8PM - FREE entry at the Mount Edgcumbe, Off Mount Ephraim, The Common Tunbridge Wells Tel: +441892 526823.[14]. Also check out the Local Live Music Website for Music listings in the Tunbridge Wells Area [15]

Buy[edit][add listing]

The main shopping area of the town is centred around the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre, although there are shops throughout the town centre, with more independent shops located in and around the High Street.

Eat[edit][add listing]

All the major fast food chains are represented, mostly in the town centre, and the Royal Victoria Place shopping mall has a fairly large food court, although it is generally noisy and crowded.

Apart from some in Camden Road, most restaurants can be found in the centre, on Mount Pleasant and in the High Street area. There are also many pubs in and around Tunbridge Wells that offer good food.

Specific restaurants (cost assumes starter, main course, one drink, tip):

  • Hotel du Vin, Crescent Road, TN1 2LY, tel +44 1892 526455. [16]. A bistro in the middle of town, near the town hall, that offers excellent food and a wide selection of wines. ~£40.
  • Wagamama, Mount Pleasant Road, [17]. One of the Japanese noodle bar chain restaurants. Quite affordable. ~£14.
  • Masala The Indian Restaurant, just one of the Indians in the town, tel +44 1892 616700. Authentic Indian restaurant at the hart of The Pentiles.Restaurant| Take Away| Lounge Bar| Party Bookings. Masala is the largest restaurant in the town, and part of the Nizam Inidan chain.
  • Sankeys, 39 Mount Ephraim, TN4 8AA, tel +44 1892 511422, [18]. Consistently high quality seafood from the British Isles, as well as some game. ~£30.
  • Mount Edgcumbe, The Common (off Mt Pleasant) Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BX, tel +44 1892 526823, [19]. At Mount Edgcumbe every meal is seasoned with overwhelming tranquility. With peaceful views and welcoming dining room, Mount Edgcumbe combines 18th century grandeur with a dining experience for the modern world. Try Moules Mariniere or Moules Thai, followed by Chargrilled Ribeye Steak served with thick cut chips and a Green Peppercorn Sauce, and raspberry creme brulee , or just enjoy a drink in the bar. It sounds good but tastes better.
  • Himalayan Ghurka 31 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells,Kent, TN1 1JT [20]. Nepalese restaurant, possibly the best curry you will get in Tunbridge Wells.
  • Chez JJ 86 Camden Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2QP, Phone Number: 01892 525830. French restaurant, so French even the signs on the door and the menu comes out in the language. Luckily the staff will speak English so don't be scared - it just adds to the experience. Good value food as well!
  • Java Bean 67-69, High St, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1XX, 01892 689205. Great friendly staff and a great option for lunch or quick coffee (only open during the day).

Drink[edit][add listing]

Wetherspoons, 88 Mount Pleasant Rd, tel +44 1892 511770, TN1 1RT - occupies the former Tunbridge Wells Opera House: vast boozer with a certain charm, always busy, largely due to the dramatically cheaper beer here than in other watering holes in the town.

Mount Edgcumbe, The Common (off Mt Ephraim) Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BX, tel +44 1892 526823 A country pub situated up on the Common just minutes from the busy town centre of Tunbridge Wells. Plenty of free car parking, and an excellent Beer Garden overlooking the Common. In the Bar there is a 4th-century cave where you can sit and drink. Outside the large Beer garden overlooking the Common, and a huge outcrop of Sandstone rocks, is where you can sit under huge umbrellas shading from the summer sun, or sheltered under the heaters well into the night. The Harveys is fantastic, along with a choice of 6 x lagers, 2 x ciders, and 9 different house wines - served by the glass!

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Spa Hotel, Mount Ephraim, TN4 8XJ, tel +44 1892 520331, [21].
  • Smart & Simple, London Road, TN1 1DS, tel 0845 402 5744, [22].
  • Hotel du Vin' Crescent Road, TN1 2LY, tel +44 1892 526455, [23].
  • The Lancers, 34 Church Road (Turn left out of railway station, head up hill, left at lights. The Lancers is on the right at the end of the road.), 01892532387, [24]. checkin: By arrangement; checkout: 11AM on the morning of departure. Small, central B&B, former home of Dr Who actor Tom Baker. 95.  edit
  • The Brew House Hotel, 1 Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 5TA, 01892 520587, [25]. checkin: 3pm (Please ask if arriving earlier); checkout: 12pm. The Brew House Hotel is a four-star luxury boutique hotel located near the Pantiles.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Tunbridge Wells circular walk. It makes a great day trip especially if you bring a picnic along. There are many entry and exit points on the footpaths so although the entire circular walk is 27 ½ miles (44.3 km) you can easily do a much shorter hike starting and ending in the town itself. Many of the walks take you through pretty villages, atmospheric woodlands, farmland (and through livestock fields), past churches, along streams/rivers and past lots of pubs :). You can grab a copy of a map with details of the different walks in the tourist information centre in the Pantiles. There is lots of wildlife around - including birds, livestock, snakes and lizards (if you're lucky!). If you want to do some camping there are several camping areas on route.
  • Penshurst Place, Penshurst, TN11 8DG, tel: +44 1892 870307, e-mail: enquiries@penshurstplace.com, [26]. Open daily from 27 March to 31 October (2004). Features an impressive medieval manor house which is open from 12:00-17:30, gardens from 10:30-18:00. One of the oldest gardens in England. Includes a 100 metre long peony border, the Union Jack garden and many fruit trees and borders. There is a large adventure playground for children. Admission: Grounds only £5.50, House & Grounds £7.00. Visit on the first Saturday of the month to tie a visit with attending the monthly farmers market [27] to pick up some cakes, cheeses, jams, bread and other delicious treats.
  • Groombridge Place, Groombridge, tel: +44 1892 863999, e-mail: office@groombridge.co.uk, [28]. Open daily from April to November, 9:30-18:00 (check website for dates). Winner of the Top Garden Attraction in the UK by Good Britain Guide 2000. Admission £8.50.
  • Bewl Water, nr Lamberhurst, tel: +44 1892 890661, [29]. Open daily, all year except 10 July and 25 December, 9:00-sunset. The largest man-made body of water in the South East, for walking and cycling, sailing, windsurfing and fishing. Admission £4.00 per vehicle (£5.00 on Bank Holidays).
  • Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood, tel: +44 1622 872068, e-mail: info@thehopfarm.co.uk, [30]. Open from 10:00–17:00, 7 days a week (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Once a working hop farm, it now offers a wide variety of attractions and events. £7.50 for adults, £6.50 for children.
  • Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge, [31]. Beautiful lakes, with rambling, bike and bridle trails. Free.
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