Tunbridge Wells takes its name from a natural spring that welled up from the ground some 400 years ago. It earnt the Royal prefix when Queen Victoria made the town part of her regular holiday destinations.
Quintessential English countryside stretches out across this part of Kent with a myriad of footpaths, parks, rich woodland and sandstone rock formations. With most of the area designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and dotted with ancient churches and oast houses there is plenty of opportunity to soak up the local rural scenery.
Tunbridge Wells boasts art galleries, theatres, a cinema, a lively arts centre and two golf courses, as well as a rugby club and Kent County Cricket Ground.
It is a shopper’s paradise, with a huge range of specialist shops, kitchen shops, chocolate shops, tea-rooms, antiques shops and bespoke jewellers. In the Royal Victoria Shopping Mall you will find all the chain stores whilst at the southern end of town set in the historical heart land of Tunbridge Wells, is the famous colonnaded walkway, the Pantiles. It offers a variety of art galleries, delightful independent shops and lovely cafes and restaurants. There is a farmers’ market every Saturday, alternating between the Town Hall and the Pantiles.
Although the area is surrounded by beautiful countryside, it is just a short distance from London and is situated on the A21. There are commuter trains to Charing Cross and Cannon Street from both Tunbridge Wells (an hour) and High Brooms, although many commuters drive to Tonbridge which offers a quicker journey time of around 45 minutes.
The town is also rich in good primary and secondary schools and the reputation of the local schools is another major factor in the town’s popularity. They include Skinners’ School, a boys’ grammar school (ages 11 to 18); Tunbridge Wells Boys’ Grammar School (ages 11 to 18); Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School (ages 11 to 18), all of which get excellent academic results and co-operate to offer a wide choice of subjects at A-level.
The two comprehensive schools Bennett Memorial (co-ed, ages 11 to 18), now an academy, and St Gregory’s both get above average results at GCSE. Skinners’ Kent Academy (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) is an academy sponsored by The Skinners’ School.
It is not hard to find a good primary school in the town; however, only two are judged to be “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog Ofsted: St James’ CofE in Sandrock Road and Claremont, which is in Banner Farm Road.
There is also a choice of private schools: Beechwood Sacred Heart (co-ed ages 2 to 19) has a girls’ boarding house; The Mead (ages 2 to 11) sends many of its pupils to Kent’s grammar schools; and Rose Hill School (ages3 to 13) is a more traditional prep school.
Finally, the private and renowned Tonbridge School and Sevenoaks School (both 11 to 18 with Sevenoaks being co-ed and Tonbridge all boys) are also in close proximity.