The site of Tunbridge Wells was once a wilderness of forest and heath, although it is likely that the medicinal value of the local wells was appreciated in Elizabethan times. Within a few years of their discovery by London society in 1606, however, the Wells had become one of the leading English watering places. The celebrated Pantiles had been built by the end of the 17th century and the hills covered with lodging houses. The new community depended, at first, for its livelihood on the services it provided to summer visitors, but within a hundred years a leisured class of retired professional and business men, and single gentlewomen, had begun to settle here. The grant of self-governing powers to the town in 1835 saw the beginning of modern Tunbridge Wells. The town was reached by the railway in 1846 and was designated 'Royal' in 1909. It was famous for the making of Tunbridge Ware, and big houses were built in spacious gardens adjoining the Common and parks. Public buildings now included the Grand Hall and the Opera House. Summer visitors remained important until the 1960s, though the number of commuters to London grew steadily from the 1920s.
The town developed as a commercial centre for East Sussex and became, in some respects, the administrative heart of an enlarged borough. The daily habits and entertainments of visitors to Tunbridge Wells and of its leisured residents were described in contemporary guide books, diaries, letters and novels. On the other hand, the planners and builders of the town and the local professional, trades and craftsmen were largely ignored until quite recently. Nowadays the history of the community is studied alongside the lives of the visitors. This informative and readable, and fully illustrated, account brings together the best of the published work on Tunbridge Wells, and includes much new material. It will appeal to all those with an interest in this unique and special place.
Buy Royal Tunbridge Wells book by C. W. Chalklin from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(248mm x 172mm x 20mm)
Phillimore & Co Ltd
Publisher: The History Press Ltd
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