An elegant, prosperous, spa town, half an hour south of London , and in the middle of some of the most beautiful countryside in the south east. The spa waters were discovered back in the 1600's and soon helped the town grow to become a fashionable retreat.
Today you can still ‘take the waters' for a nominal fee, amid the splendour of the regency shopping arcade known as The Pantiles. Tunbridge Wells is a good base from which to tour the many attractions that lie within easy reach.
Hever Castle is the childhood home of Ann Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, and more recently has been owned and restored by the Astor family of Waldorf Astoria fame. Nearby is Penshurst Place , an imposing stately home inhabited by the same family since the 14 th century.
Half an hour to the south is the pretty town of Battle . Named after the site of the Battle of Hastings, you can still walk around the battlefield where the Normans defeated King Harold's army, and see the ruins of the abbey built by William to atone for killing the king on this site.
Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery, Civic Centre, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1JN (01892) 554171
Opened in 1954, Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery was the brainchild of Dr George Abbott, as far back as 1885. His enthusiasm led to the formation of a history society that still exists today.
Now displaying a fine collection of costumes, dinosaur bones and intricate wooden souvenirs known as ‘Tunbridge ware’; this fascinating museum caters for all ages and interests.
Groombridge Place Gardens, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9QG (01892) 861444
Groombridge Place Gardens and the Enchanted Forest are situated in a 200-acre site comprising a 17th Century moated manor, magnificent walled gardens and an ‘Enchanted Forest’.
Through history, the owners of Groombridge have been embroiled in the battle of Agincourt, had a part in the signing of the Magna Carta and played a role in the beheading of Charles I.
Thankfully, Groombridge is now a much more peaceful place.