Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for TUNBRIDGE-WELLS

TUNBRIDGE-WELLS, a town, six chapelries, and a sub-district, in Tunbridge district, Kent. The town stands on the Tunbridge and Hastings railway, 5 miles S of Tunbridge; consists chiefly of parts of Tunbridge and Speldhurst parishes; includes also part of the Sussex parish of Frant; originated in the discovery of medicinal springs, in the time of James I., by Dudley Lord North; took the name of Tunbridge-Wells from the circumstance that persons frequenting its springs could, for a time, find no lodgings nearer than Tunbridge; was visited, in 1630, by Queen Henrietta Maria, attended by a large suite; attracted, during the next 30 years, considerable numbers of illustrious visitors, who all were obliged either to camp on the downs or to lodge at Southborough; began, at the close of the reign of Charles I., to acquire numerous buildings for the accommodation of visitors; was, toward the end of the reign of Charles II., a resort of Queen Catherine of Braganza, and of other distinguished persons; was visited also by Queen Anne; rose to preeminent celebrity in connexion with visits by Cibber, Johnson, Garrick, Richardson, and other leaders of the literary world; was visited in 1834 by the Princess Victoria and the Duchess of Kent, and in 1849 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; assumed, after the commencement of the present century, the proportions of a town; was materially improved in 1847, by the erection of a portico or piazza in front of its chief spring, and by the formation there of a broad and handsome parade; contributes health to its visitors by at once the chaly-beate quality of its waters, the purity of its climate, the picturesqueness of its environs, and a wide command of interesting walks; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place; publishes three weekly newspapers; carries on a manufacture of "Tunbridge ware;" includes fine ranges of private dwellings, several extensive parks, and numerous mansions and villas; contains a house in which Lord North resided after his retirement, another in which Richard Cumberland lived more than 20 years, another in which Pope's Duke of Chandos died; and has a head post-office,‡ a r. station with telegraph, three banking offices, seven chief hotels, a town hall, a handsome and lofty assembly-room, a neat corn exchange, a police station, a literary and scientific institution with two reading rooms and a good library, a mechanic' institute, six churches, six dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a cemetery, eleven public schools, an infirmary and dispensary, a weekly market on Friday, and races in Aug. Pop. in 1851, 10,587; in 1861, 13,807. Houses, 2,493.

The chapelries are Chapel of Ease, Trinity, St. James, St. John, Christchurch, and St. Mark. The livings are p. curacies in the diocese of Canterbury. Value of St. John, £130;* of the others not reported. Patrons of Chapel of Ease and St. John, Trustees; of Trinity, Mrs. Deacon; of St. James, the Incumbent of Trinity; of Christchurch, the Rev. T. W. Franklyn. The Chapel of Ease is ancient. Trinity church was built in 1827, at a cost of £12,000; and is in the early English style. St. James' also is modern; St. John 's was built in 1858; Christchurch, in 1841; St. Mark's, in 1866.—The sub-district contains Speldhurst, Ashurst, and Bidborough parishes, and part of Tunbridge. Pop. in 1851, 13,709; in 1861, 17,656. Houses, 3,285.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, six chapelries, and a sub-district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Tunbridge Wells CP       Tonbridge PLU/RegD       Kent AncC
Place: Tunbridge Wells

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