Peter Jenner, Jewellery Maker Designer  

The Pantiles
Introduction | History | Today

Royal Tunbridge Wells was founded in 1606 when a courtier, Dudley, Lord North, on his way back to London from convalescing at the home of his friend Lord Abergavenny, discovered the Chalybeate Spring. He drank of its waters which, having made good the damage to his health from dissolute living, he claimed to contain special health-giving properties. This view was confirmed by medical opinion and within a few years of its discovery the word had spread and the 'Wells' were being visited by many of the great and the good from all corners of the country.

In 1630 the town entertained the first in a long line of royal visitors, Henrietta Maria, the Queen of King Charles I. The Pantiles soon gained accommodation, coffee houses, gaming rooms and shops for which it also became famous, and an elegant colonnade was added. The Earl of Abergavenny developed the town - centred around The Pantiles - into what was one of the most fashionable and popular Spas of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

It became a playground of the visiting royalty and gentry who came to take the restorative waters whilst enjoying the many delights of the town. The court of King Charles II resided at the Wells successively. Princess (later Queen) Anne was a frequent patron. "The Pantiles" owes its name to its pavement of square clay tiles which once graced the walks of the promenade, laid in 1698 as the gift of Princess Anne after her son, the Duke of Gloucester, slipped and fell on rough ground. Queen Victoria also made frequent visits as a young princess. Daniel Defoe, Samuel Pepys, William Pitt, Dr Johnson, David Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds were regular visitors. Famous residents included the author W M Thackeray, and Richard 'Beau' Nash the renowned dandy, who became Master of Ceremonies for the town, organising the vibrant social life of the high society visitors and residents.

It was Edward VII who, in 1909, granted the town its "Royal" prefix, conferring Tunbridge Wells the right to call itself "Royal Tunbridge Wells".


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