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Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada

Date: February 16,2015


The building at 75 High Street has a long history, dating back to at least the early 1870’s as an establishment where beer and wine was sold. Called “The Eclipse” it never appears in any trade directories as a public house, and in fact,surprisingly, there have been no pubs in the County of Kent throughout the 18th and 19th century by that name. However ,it is known ,based on census records that there were licensed victuallers running the place and that they had at times a staff of barmaids, and so clearly beverages were being sold on the premises.  In the years before about 1911 the premises was usually described as a beer and wind store, but from 1911 onwards it started to be described ,loosely,as a public house,suggesting that it did not become a “pub” as such until the early 20th century.

From at least 1871 No. 75 High Street was the premises of one of the members of the well- known, and historically significant, Delves family, in the form of one Thomas Hilder Delves (1830-1891) who died on the premises in 1891. Thomas was one of nine known children of Joseph Delves (1806-1871), a local butcher, and Jane Delves, nee Strange (1806-1859).

With the death of Mr Delves, the premises were taken over by Henry Watts, who described himself as a licensed victualler. He and his family were still on the premises in 1903, but gone by 1911.Henry had been born in 1842, was married twice and had children.All traces of Henry disappear in Tunbridge Wells after 1903.

After Henry Watts came a lady by the name of Mrs Ann Frances Sharp (1845-1923), the widow of William Henry Sharp who in 1891 was the hotel keeper of the King’s Arms Hotel in Hampton Wock,Middlesex and where his wife was a tavern keeper. Ann died at 75 High Street in 1923 and described herself in the census records as a licensed victualler and she employed bar staff on the premises.

After Mrs Sharp came a gentleman by the name of G.B. Lock who’s full name was most likely George Bernard Lock. He arrived at 75 High Street by at least 1930 and he was still there in 1946, the last year of my study. Mr Lock described himself in local directories variously as a beer retailer and as proprietor  and licensed victualler of the Eclipse public house.

When the Eclipse closed is not known by the researcher but it was still there after WW II. It of course has been occupied by a variety of shop types since then and at one time was a kitchen shop. The original building was either demolished to make way for a new building on the site,sometime before 1975, or significantly altered by that time . The building is currently occupied by “Sahara” a ladies clothing and accessory shop, in what appear to be a modern structure, which you can find next door to the Grade II listed building, formerly a bank, but now ,and for quite some time, the “Pizza Express”.

This article traces the history of the premises from 1871 to 1946 with a few comments about its usage later in the 20th and 21st centuries.


Due to a lack of local directories in which street addresses are given the earliest back in time that a definite record of occupancy for 75 High Street is from the 1871 census. In that year the building was occupied by Thomas Hilder Delves of the well-known and historically significant Delves family who settled in Tunbridge Wells in the early part of the 18th century. Shown opposite is a 20th century image of 75-77 High Street, a two shop building with retail premises on the main floor and apartments above. No. 75 is the left half of this building.

Thomas Hilder Delves was born February 2,1830 at Chapel Place, above the butcher shop of his father Joseph Delves (1806-1871). His mother was Jane Delves, nee Strange (1805-1859), and he was one of at least nine children born to the couple. Thomas was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on March 3,1830. At the time of the 1841 census, he was at the Tudor Hall School in Hawkhust, Kent.

The 1851 census, taken at Chapel Place, recorded Joseph Delves as a butcher and house agent. With him was his wife Jane; four of his children,including Thomas H.Delves, two visitors, four domestic servants, and three journeymen butchers.

The 1861 census, taken at Sion Cottage recorded Thomas as single and working as a butcher. With him was one visitor and one domestic servant.Sometime between 1861 and 1871 he gave up being a butcher and moved to 75 High Street where he became a seller of wine and beer.

The 1871 census, taken at 75 High Street, gave Thomas as a wine and beer store proprietor. With him was a domestic servant. I should point out that Thomas never married. The 1874 Kelly directory gave the listing William Hilder Delves, 75 High Street, wine store, but this listing should have read “Thomas Hilder Delves”.

The 1881 census, taken at 75 High Street gave Thomas as a” wine and beer retailer”.With him was one general servant. The 1882 Kelly directory gave the listing “Thomas Hilder Delves, 75 High Street, wine stores”. The 1891 census, taken at the same place gave Thomas as a “draft bottle wine and beer merchant”.

Probate records gave Thomas Hilder Delves late of 75 High Street,Tunbridge Wells, bachelor, died May 1,1891 in Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his 909 pound estate were Emily Boot (wife of Charles Louis Boot), of 51 Stockwell Park Road,Clapham,Surrey, sister. Thomas was buried at St Albans Church in Frant on May 3,1891.


I lead of my coverage of Henry Watts with the following text that appeared in the 1892 publication “Illustrated History of Tunbridge Wells and District’. Although this publication gave images of shop fronts throughout it, for some unknown reason no photo of Mr Watts show was provided. Shown opposite, to be compared with the other image presented for 75 High Street, is a postcard view of High Street showing No. 75 on the right hand side.This image is dated circa 1903.

“Mr Henry Watts, “The Eclipse”, High Street…Owing to the reputation which the “Eclipse” has gained for its excellence of supplies, as well as exceptional moderation in charges, it has become during the past twenty-two years, a recognised centre for residents and travellers visiting out town. Mrs Watts taking part in the management has, no doubt, conduced towards the excellent manner in which all matters relating to the latter department are carried out. A large stock is carried, including British and foreign wines of every description. Amongst them may be mentioned splendid old vintage ports and sherries of the choicest brands, which for tone and flavour cannot be rivalled. An extensive business is also done in stourts,ales, porter, etc. of the best qualities: and we can personally testify to the superior quality of the cigars, which, we unhesitantly assert, cannot be equalled at the price in the town. The former proprietor, Mr Delves, was a recognised connoisseur, having accumulated a large stock of the very finest brands, regardless of price”.

It is clear from the above account that at this time the Eclipse is a wine and beer retail shop and not a public house, where beverages are consumed on the premises. Also of note is the reference to the business dating back 20 years (1872) which would indicate that Thomas Hilder Delves was the one who started the business and that it began in 1871 as per the census record. Obviously the building itself dates back before 1871 but who occupied it and what it was used for was not determined.Also of note from the 12892 account is that this is the earliest record located for the name “The Eclipse” indicating that the image of the pub sign I gave earlier dates back to this time.

Henry Watts has an interesting background, although a complete history of him and his family details were not established. Henry was born variously from 1842 to 1844 as either Ashling,Sussex or Stoke Chichester,Sussex. Details about his parents and siblings are unknown as is his life before 1881.

The 1881 census, taken at Denny Bottom in Speldhurst gave Henry as a coachman.Living with him was his wife Rosa, born in 1842.also present was his niece Annie Frewin, age 10, born 1871 at Marbury,Sussex. Rosa was his first wife, and marriage records show that Henry married Rosa Bassam on January 21,1866 and that at the time of the marriage Henry was a groom living in St Marylebone,Middlsex, and that his father was George Watts, a gardener. His wife Rosa was a spinster of St Marylebone and her father was Thomas Bassam,a tailor. Witnesses to the marriage included Rosa’s father Thomas and her sister Lucy. Rosa had been born in London and was one of five children born to Thomas Bassam (1817-1896) and Ann Bassam, nee Probert (1816-1866). The 1851 census, taken at 2 Violet Hill in St Marylebone recorded Thomas Bassam as a master tailor.With him was his wife Ann and their four children, including Rosa, and an aunt by the name of Jane Bassam, age 60.Rosa had a short life for she died in Tunbridge Wells in the summer of 1883, when she was only about 42 years of age. It is not known by the researcher if Henry and Rosa had any children.

In the 2nd qtr of 1884 Henry married again, this time to Caroline Bassett in Tunbridge Wells. Caroline was born 1861 in Groombridge,Sussex. Details about her family background were not determined.

The 1891 census, taken at 1 Lower Street, Rusthall New Town, recorded Henry as a groom and coachman worker. With him was his wife Caroline ; their son Harry George Barry Wattes, born 1886 at Brenchley,Kent, and one boarder.

In 1891 Henry Watts took occupancy of 75 High Street following the disposition of the estate of Thomas Hilder Delves in the last half of 1891.The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Henry Watts, beer & wine retailer, 75 High Street”.

The 1901 census, taken at 75 High Street recorded Henry as a licenced victualler on own means, and written over this entry by the census taker was “Pub”, suggesting that Henry was running a pub, instead of a wine and beer retail shop. Living with Henry at this time was his wife Caroline and their son, given this time as “Barry”, born 1886 in Mayfield,Kent, instead of Henry George Barry Watts, born 1886 at Brenchley,Kent in the 1891 census, Clearly both entries apply to the same son and it would appear that Henry George Barry Watts was the only child born to the couple.

The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “Henry Watts, beer & wine retailer, 75 High Street. Interestingly there is no mention of the name “The Eclipse” not any mention of his establishment being a pub. In this year at 77 High Street was Allen Parsons coal office and also Miss Louise Godwin’s milliners shop. At 73 High Street was Gilbert & Co (no relation) the ironmongers,and at No. 79 was W.S. Parkers & Hammick Ltd who also had premises elsewhere in the town.

Sometime after 1903 but before 1911 Henry vacated the premises . the 1911 census, taken at 56 Calverley Road gave Henry Watts, age 66, plus his wife Caroline,age 50, both as visitors with Walter Edward Cunningham. Henry is given as “unemployed” and his wife Caroline as “housekeeper”. The group are living in 9 rooms and the census indicates that Henry had been married 25 years (since 1886) and that their only child was still living. The dates and places of birth for Henry and Caroline coincide with previous records.


The  1911 census, taken at 75 High Street recorded a widow by the name of Ann Frances Sharp, who had been born 1846 in Hastings,Sussex. Her occupation was given as “licensed victualler employer”. With her was her married daughter Florence Louisa Bolton, born 1873 at St Leonard,Sussex, with the occupation of “barmaid licensed victualler”. Also present was Ann’s single daughter Eleanor Kate Sharp, born 1875 at St Leonad of no occupation, and Ann’s single son Alec George Sharp, born 1885 Hampton,Middlesex, a “barman licensed victualler”. Also present was Ann’s granddaughter Gwendolin Frances Mary Bolton, age 14. The census also records that the premises was of 5 rooms; that Ann had been married 9 years (1902) and that of the five children she had, only four were still living. Shown opposite is Valentines postcard  view of the pub (2nd building on the right) looking north up the High Street. Below is a black and view dated 1920.

Going back in time to the 1891 census, taken at the King’s Arms Hotel at Hampton Wock, Middlesex, one finds William Henry Sharp, born 1842 in Eastbourne,Sussex as the hotel keeper. With him was his wife Ann, a “tavern stable keeper”, as well as five of his children; three domestic servants, and four hotel staff. The census records of 1881 finds the family at Swindon,Middlesex, and in 1871 they were at St Leonard,Sussex.

Moving ahead in time Ann Frances Sharp is found in the 1913 Kelly directory as “Mrs Ann Frances Sharp, beer retailer, 75 High Street. Miss Louisa Goodman still had her milliners shop at No. 77 and Gilbert & Co, Ironmongers were still at No, 73 High Street.

The 1922 Kelly directory listed Mrs Ann Frances Sharp as a beer retailer of 75 High Street. Death records show that Ann died at 75 High Street in January  1923 and she was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on  January 23rd, indicating that she most likely died January 20,1923.

Shown at the top of this section is another early 20th century postcard view of High Street on which one can see the building at 75 High Street on the right hand side just up from the intersection.


No clues other than his initials give an indication if his full name but it is believed that he was George Bernard Lock.  The researcher was not able to determine any reliable information about him or his family.

He is found listed as beer retailer from 1930 to 1934 at 75 High Street. Directories of 1938 to 1942 give him as “Eclipse public house, G.B. Lock, 75 High Street”. The 1946 directory gave him  as “G.B. Lock, licensed victualler, The Eclipse, 73 (obviously an error) High Street”. The last directory for him was that of 1944 where he is given as “ G.B. Lock, licensed victualler, The Eclipse, 75 High Street.  Shown opposite is a view of the pub dated 1950 in which the Eclipse sign can be seen.


The text given with the image of 75 and 77 High Street with “the Eclipse” pub sign stated that at the time the image was posted to the internet that this building was the premises of a kitchen shop.The  date of its posting was not given.

Over the years of course this shop has been the business premises of various types of shops.

A review of Planning Authority application from 1975 to 2014 did not indicate much activity with the building. In 1971 approval was given for a new shop front and interior to the ground floor and basement. The appearance of the building today is considerably different to how it appeared in the early 20th century. Modern images of the current building on the site might suggest that the old building was demolished and replaced with a new structure. Shown in this section are a few modern photographs showing what the building looks like now.

Shown above is a colour photo of the “Sahara’ ladies wear and accessory shop at No. 75 High Street. This companies website states that this is one of twelve shops the company operates and that the business was established in 2008.

The  photo below it is of the Pizza Express building which today has an address of 82 High Street, is Grade II listed by English Heritage, and was formerly a bank. There was approval given in 1994 by the Planning Authority for conversion of the building at 81 High Street for use as a Pizza Express restaurant.

In 2005 Planning Authority approval was obtained for alterations to office space at 75-77 High Street, including a new entrance canopy. Approval was given in 2011 for a glass canopy over the door of 75-77 High Street, In 2013 approval was given to change the use from office space to three residential units, and this would have pertained to the space above the shop(s).



Written By; Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario

Date: February 14,2015


This article reports on the occupancy ,business and family history of those who conducted business from the little shop at 6 Chapel Place over the period of 1874 to 2015. Tucked away in a narrow lane in Mount Sion, a stone’s throw from King Charles the Martyr Church, it is one of several similar shops in one of the oldest and historically significant parts of Tunbridge Wells. The building dates back to the Victorian era when its first customers arrived on foot or by horse and carriage. Today it is part of a vibrant retail community, not far from the famous Halls bookshop and accessed by pedestrian traffic only. Shown opposite right is a view of Chapel place from the 1860-1880 era looking north toward King Charles the Martyr Church (shown in the background). Shown opposite left is a photo of the same scene taken in 1979.

Often visited by locals and tourists this old shop has seen many occupants and customers  over the years. In the  1870’s and early 1880’s it was a hosiers shop run by Charles Harwood. In the 1890’s it had become the boot and shoe shop of John Marsh initially and then that of boot and shoe makers Henry William Bennett & Co. Bennett was followed by bootmaker Thomas Lee at the start of the 20th century who was still there in 1911. After Mr Lee came bootmaker John Francis Allan  by 1913 who later expanded his business  and moved to premises at 31 Calverley Road, where he continued business as a leather dealer until the start of WW II.

By 1922 No. 6 Chapel Place had become a restaurant, run by Frederick C. Wells and by 1930 the restaurant was being run by Frederick Carter. A Mr and Mrs E.M.M. Dennis took over the premises by 1934 and were still there in 1938, where they had their refreshment rooms. Today, and since at least 2008 No. 6 Chapel Place has been the Oxfam Bookshop where donated books are sold. Described today as a small shop, it is bright and airy due to its large windows and customers of the book shop are always  pleased to see a fine selection of books, Shown above is a modern view of the shop and its neighbours, taken in 2010.An older view from 1892 is given later in this article. The general location of the shop is enerally given in the 1909 OS map opposite ,which has been highlighted in red

Shown below are four recent photographs of Chapel Place.The one shown top left is dated 1943, the rest are circa 2015.


Charles shop is found in local directories for 1874 and 1882. The 1874 and 1882 Kelly directories   gave the listing “ Charles Harwood, hosier, 6 Chapel Place”.He is not found there in directories of 1862 or 1899. As directories before 1874 tend not to give the shops full address the researcher was unable to establish the earlier occupants of this shop. Charles  unfortunately was missed in the 1881 census and for that reason no definitive information can be offered for him and his family. By definition a hosier is a person who makes or deals in hose or stockings or goods knitted or woven like hose. Hosiery shops sold items for both  men and women.

Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, describes garments worn directly on the feet and legs. The term originated as the collective term for products of which a maker or seller is termed a hosier; and those products are also known generically as hose. The term is also used for all types of knitted fabric.

The first references to hosiery can be found in works of Hesiod, where Romans are said to have used leather or cloth in forms of strips to cover their lower body parts. Even the Egyptians are speculated to have used hosiery as socks have been found in certain tombs.

Most hosiery garments are made by knitting methods. Modern hosiery is usually tight-fitting by virtue of stretchy fabrics and meshes. Older forms include binding to achieve a tight fit. Due to its close fit, most hosiery can be worn as an undergarment, but it is more commonly worn as a combined under/outer garment.

Domestic hand knitting of hosiery dominated the trade until the end of the 17th century. Progress was made in the industry when  the circular knitting frame was invented in England in 1816. Initially items were made of wool but by the second half of the 18th century cotton began to be used widely. Centres such as Leicester and Nottingham became big producers of hosiery. In 1857 there was a patent in England for a full-fashioned machine. The production of hosiery by machine in large factories replaced hand knitting, although many women continued to knit at home, and most people bought their hosiery at the shop instead of making it themselves when there was a broader and cheaper selection of products available. By the first decade of the 19th century here were about 30,000 knitting frames in England. In the 19th century very fashionable ladies and mens hosiery was made.By 1929 womens stockings were made of silk. By 1927 Dupont invented nylon which brought about nylon stockings.The history of the knitting/hosiery industry is a long and interesting one and there are many websites one can consult for a more detailed account of this industry.


Mr Marsh turned out to be a rather elusive gentlemen for he is not found in any census records of Tunbridge Wells. The best record of him is from the 1892 publication ‘Pictorial Illustrations of Tunbridge Wells and District’ from which the photo shown opposite was obtained along with the following text,

“ Mr. R. Marsh, boot and shoe maker, 6 Chapel Place- In the matter of boots and shoes, Mr R. Marsh, of 6 Chapel Place,Tunbridge Wells, holds a leading position. The premises occupied are a notable street feature, and the handsome frontage, with its attractive windows, presents an aspect in every respect appropriate to its surroundings as a busy centre of the modern “Wells”. The interior is well fitted and arranged, displaying the various goods to advantage,while the utmost care is taken for the comfort of lady patrons. From its commencement there has been a consistent regard for the interest of customers and in consequence of the ability and energy manifested in the proprietorship, the career of the business has always been progressive. Mr Marsh makes a specialty of the ready-made department, besides which, a large trade is done in bespoke goods. He is sole agent for the “K””Adapted” “Queen” and “Bective” boots and shoes, also for the “Dr. Jagers” brands. All measurements are taken with care and precision and a large stock of every description of boots and shoes is always on hand. Owing to the gentlemanly courtesy and ability, which has so long been a leading feature in Mr Marsh’s management, he still retains the confidence and appreciation of a widespread connection”.


The 1899 Kelly directory gave the listing “ Henry William Bennett & Co., boot and shoe makers, 21 High Street and 6 Chapel Place. Shown opposite is a postcard view of shops on the High Street.

Henry was born in the 2nd qtr of 1848 at Oxford,Oxfordshire. In 1881 he married Ellen, who had been born 1861 at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, and with her had six children  between 1882 and 1900. The 1881 census, taken at 65 and 66 St Clement Street in Oxford recorded Henry as a grocer. Living with him was just his wife Ellen. While living in Oxford Henry and his wife had two children and added a third child in 1887 that was born in Croydon,Surrey. Sometime after 1887 and before 1881 the Bennett family moved to Tunbridge Wells, and it is speculated that upon his arrival Henry took over the shop at 21 High Street.

The 1891 census, taken at 21 High Street recorded Henry as a boot factor employer. Meaning that he was a maker of boots. With him was his wife Ellen ; four of his children, one of which was  Freda Rose Bennett, the youngest, who had been born in Tunbridge Wells in 1891. She was followed by the birth of Herbert Charles Bennett in Tunbridge Wells in 1900. Also present at the time of this census were three others, being a mixture of domestic servants and shop workers.

As noted by the 1899 Kelly directory, by 1899 Henry had expanded his business to include shops at both 21 High Street and 6 Chapel Place but he retired from business by 1901. He had taken over the boot and shoe shop of R. Marsh at 6 Chapel Place sometime after 1892.The 1901 census, taken at  165 Upper Grosvenor Road recorded Henry as a retired boot factor. Living with him was his wife Ellen and his five children. His son Frederick was working at that time as an articled clerk.

Sometime before 1911 the Bennett family left Tunbridge Wells. They are found in the 1911 census living at 152 Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington,London. Henry at that time was out of retirement and gave his occupation as “boot factor employer”. Living with him was his wife Ellen and his two youngest children Freda Rose Bennett,age 20, who was working as an assistant in her father’s shop, and Herbert Campton Bennett,age 11 who was attending school. The census recorded that the couple had been married 30 years and all six of their children were still living. It also noted that the families residence had 10 rooms.

Probate records show that Henry William Bennett was of 29 Chesterton Road in North Kensington, when he died on July 4,1935 at 28 Marlses Road,Kensington. The executor of his 924 pound estate was his wife Ellen.

Shown above is a typical shop sign for a boot and shoe maker. When Illiteracy was common shopkeepers often displayed the kind of product they sold in their shop so that those passing the shop would know what to expect inside.


Thomas  Lee is found at 6 Chapel Place in the 1901 and 1911 census. He took over this shop from Mr Bennett and by 1913 the shop was the premises of John Francis Allen.Thomas was the third and last boot and shoe maker at this location. The 1903 Kelly directory gave the listing “Thomas Lee, book maker, 6 Chapel Place”.  Although a photo of him was not found, shown opposite is a photo of his brother James Thomas Lee (1831-1901) who was an engine driver.

Thomas was born 1848 in Buckfastleigh,Devon and was one of five children born to Edward Lee, a shoemaker, born 1811 in Denbury,Devon , and Susan Lee, born 1812 in Broadhempston,Devon.

The 1851 census, taken at Fore Street in Buckfastleigh, recorded Edward Lee as a shoemaker employing four labourers. With him was his wife Susan and their five children who had been born between 1837 and 1848, all at Buckfastleigh (image below), with Thomas being the youngest. Also present was two shoemakers and one domestic servant. The 1861 census, taken at the same place, recorded Edward as a shoemaker and with him was his wife Susan; four of his children, and one visitor. Edwards daughter Caroline, age 21 was a dressmaker; his daughter Emma, age 19, a boot maker working for her father with his two sons John Edwin Balley Lee,age 16 and Thomas, age 13, both working for their father as shoemakers.

The 1871 census, also taken at Fore Street,Buckfastleigh have Edward as a cordqainer employing two men and one boy. With him was his wife Susan , his daughter Emma, and son Thomas, a cordwainer. A cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes fine soft leather shoes and other luxury footwear articles. The word is derived from "cordwain", or "cordovan", the leather produced in Córdoba, Spain.

The 1881 census, taken at Fore Street,Buckfastleigh recorded Thomas Lee as the head of the household with the occupation of cordwainer master employing one man and two boys. Living with him was his wife Grace Annie Lee, born 1856 at Stoke Climstand,Cornwall. Thomas had married Grace in 1879. Also present was their son John Edwin B. Lee, born 1880 at Buckfastleigh. Also present were two apprentices working for Thomas.

By 1888 the Lee family moved to Torquay,Devon. The 1891 census taken there gave Tomas as a bootmaker employer. With him was his wife Grace Annie Lee and their three children. Thomas and his wife had a total of four children between 1880 and 1890. His daughter Winnifred and son Harold Edward Lee had been born in Torquay in 1888 and 1890 respectively. Sometime after 1890 and before 1901 the Lee family moved to Tunbridge Wells where Thomas took over the boot and shoe shop at 6 Chapel Place.

The 1901 census,taken at 6 Chapel Place gave Thomas as the manager of the boot shop. With him was his wife Grace and three of his children. The 1911 census,taken at the same place gave Thomas as a bootmaker dealer.With him was his wife Grace and his two youngest children Winifred and Harold. His son Harolkd was working as a hosier. The census reported that they were living in 7 rooms; that they had been married 32 years (1879) and of the four children born only three were still living. There was also one boarder living with the Lee family.

Thomas vacated the shop sometime before 1913 as the 1913 Kelly directory gave the listing “John Francis Allen, bootmaker, 6 Chapel Place.


As  noted above John was at 6 Chapel Place and was a bootmaker, continuing the business from a long line of boot and shoemakers before him. He would have taken over the shop  from Mr Lee sometime after the 1911 census, when Lee was still there.

John was born in the 3rd qtr of 1859 at Bingham,Warwickshire (image opposite)and was one of at least six children born to John Allen, a clerk with the Church of England, born 1822 in Chichester,Sussex, and Martha Allen, born 1929 in Walton,Norfolk.

The 1871 census, taken at 7 Mortimer Terrace in Kensington,London recorded John Allen as the curate of St Andrews Holborne Church. With him was his wife Martha, servant and five children, including their son John Francis Allan who was attending school.

The 1881 census, taken at 2 Rodney Place East, in Newington,London gave John Allen as a clerk C of E. With him was his wife Martha and six of their children. The oldest daughter Martha, age 29 was an assistant to a hairdresser. Their daughter Kathleen, age 21 was a dressmaker. Tehir son John Francis Allan was a commercial clerk and daughter Edith,age 19 was a stationers assistant.

On December 26,1885 John Francis Allen, a clerk, married Amelia Heathcote Irene High at St Michael, Wood Green. His father was given as John Allen ,deceased and Amelias father was William High, a watchmaker.

The 1891 census, taken at 51 Knowle Road in Lambeth,London recorded  John Francis Allen as a clerk worker. With him was his wife Amelia, who had been b orn 1862 in Newington,Surrey. Also present was their two children Frank James Allen, born 1887 in Middlesex, and Leonard Horace Allen born 1890 in Surrey. Also present was one boarder.

The 1901 census, taken at Lambeth,London gave John Francis Allen as a merchant clerk.With him was his wife Amelia; their five children and one servant. Sometme after this census and before 1911 the Allen family moved to Tunbridge Wells.

The 1911 census, taken at 14 Calverley Park Crescent recorded John as a mercantile clerk worker. With him was his wife Amelia, his son Frank James Allen,age 24, an insurance clerk; his son Leonard Horace Allen a shop assistant worker; and his two daughters Lilian Florence Allen, age 14 and Viloet Miriam Allen,age 13. None of his children were born in Tunbridge Wells. Also present in this 6 room residence was one domestic servant. The census recorded that John had been married 25 years (1886) and all five of their children were still living. Shown opposite is a view of Chapel Place looking toward the High Street

While he was at No. 6 Chapel Place in 1913 it appears he did not remain there for too many years for he was gone by 1921 at the latest. With Johns departure from 6 Chapel Place, he did not however leave Tunbridge Wells. The 1918 Kelly directory gave the listing ‘John Francis Allen, 7 Mount Ephraim Road and he was also listed there in the 1918 and 1922 Kelly directories. The 1922 Kelly also gave “John Francis Allen, leather dealer, 31 Calverley Road and he is still at that location with the same occupation in the directories of 1930 ,1934 and 1938.

Probate records gave John Francis Allen of 82 Upper Grosvenor Road who died March 21,1938. The executors of his 9,025 pound estate were Frank James Allen, clerkl in Peruvian legation, Leonard Horace Allen, shoe retailer and John Bayfield Allen, accountant. All of the executors were Johns sons. Johmn was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on March 7th. Probate records also gave information about his wife when it reported that she was also of 82 Upper Grosvenor Road, but died as widow on July 1,1940. The executors of her 1,025 estate were the same as those given for her husband. She was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on July 4th.


Frederick is listed at 6 Chapel Place in the 1922 directory when in that year the premises were in use as a restaurant. He was gone from there by 1930.


Frederick took over the restaurant of Frederick Charles Wells sometime after 1922 but before 1930.Frederick was gone from 6 Chapel Place by 1934.


The directory of 1934 gave “E.M.M,. Dennis, refreshment rooms, 6 Chapel Place” and the 1938 directory gave “Mrs E,M.M. Dennis, refreshment rooms, 6 Chapel Place. With this I end my coverage of this topic.


Although no investigation was undertaken by the research beyond 1938 it was noted that No. 6 Chapel place was occupied in 1982 by A.E. Collins but there was no indication as to what type of business it was.

Since at least 2008 the premises have been home to the Oxfam shop(photo above), where they sell second hand books, to raise money for charitable work. A recent photo of the shop front is given opposite. A recent customer of the shop stated “ The first thing you notice is that it is tiny. It is bright and airy thanks to the big windows and the high ceiling. Despite its size it is well stocked”. 


Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada

Date: February 8,2015


The central focus of this article is the history of the shop at No. 7 Pantiles, a building that dates back to the 17th century, reportedly a private house that was converted into a shop in 1765. Evidence of the early existence of the building is by way of Kipps engraving of 1718 and Bowras map of 1738 and a series of artists sketches and photographs throughout the following centuries

The building, which exists today, has had a long and interesting history. In the early 18th century this building was part of “Butchers Row” , and during that time No. 7 was a butchers shop. In the early to mid 19th century members of the historically significant Delves family ran their butchers,grocers and house agents businesses there.

In the mid 1850’s Delves & Jull had their grocers shop there and branched out into being house and estate agents. By the 1860’s Edward Durrant took over No. 7 and opened a grocers and wine & spirits business.  In 1906 Edward Durrant died in Tunbridge Wells and no member of his family continued the business, and as a result the business was sold. The name of Edward Durrant however continued in use for No. 7 Pantiles well into the 1940’s, when the business changed hands.

Due to a lack of directories during the war years, who occupied the shop has not been determined. Throughout the 1950’s No. 7 was occupied by George Prentice , who’s son later joined his father and the wine merchants business became George Prentice & Son Ltd. This business was still there in 1963.

By about 1980 No. 7 became a wine shop operating as The Pantiles Vintry, a business that remained at this location until by 2012 it became an Italian cuisine restaurant called ‘Gastronomia G.’ which is still in business at this location in 2015.

Although there are invariably some gaps in my account of this building and its occupants, you will no doubt find this account informative and interesting. Shown above is a photograph of the shop front from the 19th century  from which can be seen a display of fine wines. This image from the 1990 book ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ by Roger Farthing has the following caption “ A painted legend on this shop, No. 7 The Pantiles, now The Vintry, claims that it was built as a private house in 1660 and converted into a shop in 1768: but the only evidence seems to be that it has always been painted thus. This photograph of Durrants’ Wineshop and staff shows how little has changed since 1887, Queen Victoria’s jubilee year”.


Most of the information about the early history of this building is by way of maps, sketches and photographs produced at intervals throughout the period of 1718 to 2015. The first image I present is a birds eye view of the Pantiles by Kipps dated 1718 the 18th century, taken before The Bath House was built at the far end, where the label “The Wells” is given. The location of what became No. 7 Pantiles is in the range of buidlings beyond the building labelled “ Mr Hunts” and the building in front of it ,where the horse drawn carriage is shown was the Gloster or Glouster Tavern. Although little detail about No 7 can be seen what can be seen is that the building had a sloped room, called a “Cat Slide Roof” which I refer to again later. Behind this row of buildings is “Pink Lane”, and on Pink Lane today can be found a building with the following sign painted on the front “ Erected in 1660 as a private house, this building was converted into a shop in 1768”, a similar account to that on the sign at No. 7 Pantiles.

Shown opposite is a plan of the Pantiles by Bowra dated 1738 on which I have highlighted in red the location of No. 7 Pantiles. The label on this plan ,where No. 7 is located is not clearly visible but on a better copy is printed “Butchers Row” indicating that at that time No. 7 was a butcher  shop. As you will read later the Delves and Richardson families were butchers in the Pantiles and for a time occupied No. 7. Further information about these families and their occupancy there is given in subsequent sections of this article.

Shown below are two other 18th century views of No. 7 Pantiles. The image on the left is from the front cover of Roger Farthings book stated to be an illustration by Thomas Loggan dated 1740. The decorative arch in the middle is “Lord Muskerry’s Arch” and is also shown on the Kipps 1817 view I presented above. Shown on the right here is a second image, this one being a 1793 painting by J. Green. In both of these images No. 7 Pantiles is the building in the foreground on the immediate right on which can be seen two large multi-planed windows with the roof on the building being a ‘Cats Slide Roof” with dorners in the attic area. In 1802 the elegant “Bath House” building was constructed on the site of Lord Muskerry’s Arch.The building shown to the left of No. 7 was separated by a walk leading down to Pink Lane, making No. 7 the right end unit in Butchers Row. The 1740 image clearly shows that No. 7 was a butchers shop for hanging out front in the ‘Open Butcher Shop Front’, typical of the times is some meat with the shop man standing and waiting for customers to the left.

Shown opposite is a photograph taken in 1897 on the occasion of Queens Victoria’s Jubilee, when the shops in the Pantiles were decorated for the occasion with bunting ,flags,etc. Shown on the right is Holyer’s butcher shop and to its left is Edward Durrants grocery, wine and spirits shop. This image has appeared in many publications,sometimes with incorrect information. The book by Jean Mauldon entitled ‘Tunbridge Wells As It Was ,published initially in 1977 but which has gone through five editions, gave a caption with this image that in part stated “ Durrants was built on the Pantiles as a private house in 1660, and became Durrant’s Grocery and Wind shop in 1768, It continued in business until the early 1950’s, the premises are still a wine merchants. The frontage is still the original structure. Durrants’ however was not there in 1768 and it is obvious that the building appears quite different than it does in the maps etc from the 18th century, for gone is the Cats slide roof, and the building has been extended upwards by two floors, in which have been incorporated two bay windows on the second floor and two 12 pane windows on the third floor. A pitched roof with tiles was then installed. Also, the front at street level has been changed. The researcher found no proof that the original building was demolished and a new building constructed in 1768 or in any other year but it is possible the original building , or at least parts of it, still exist, after the building underwent significant alteration. The 2nd and 3rd floors were added to provide accommodation for the shop owner and his family, but today this space has become flats that are rented out, as noted in recent estate agents advertisments.  In this image can be seen the sign “Durrants” over the front door and a larger sign bearing the shop name and the products sold along the entire width of the shop over the two large, and curved front windows with a central door. A fine looking building at the time, giving every indication that Edward Durrant had a prosperous business.

Shown opposite is a photo of Tolson’s Butcher shop in the Pantiles, which for a time was located in the Fish market building of the Pantiles  , now a restaurant, but formerly the Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information building. This image is presented to give a view of that butcher shops looked like well into the early 1900’s. The butchers shops at No. 7 and others in Butchers Row up to the early 1900’s, particularly when electricity and refrigeration became available were all of the open front type. Later the fronts were closed  with the meats displayed on ice in the shop with the rest kept in the refrigerator /freezer. For information about the general history of butcher shops and their operation see my article ‘The Butcher shop-A Cut Above the Rest’ dated September 9,2011.

In 2014 the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society published a booklet entitled “The Pantiles Royal Tunbridge Well’ written by Philip Whitbourn. This booklet gives a fascinating account of the history of the Pantiles as well as the map shown opposite, on which is shown the location of No. 7 Pantiles and labelled as “ No. 7, The Vintry Georgian Front” and a second map showing the same image but labelled as “No. 7 Gastronomia G, Italian Café-bar”. The reference to the Italian restaurant is correct for they were at the location since at least 2012 and are still there. Before them and in operation for many years was “The Vintry” wine shop.This map clearly labels “Pink Alley” that I referred to earlier and clearly shiows the separation by a walk between No,. 7 and No. 5. It is also worth noting that another historically significant butcher  (Reginald Adam Aslby)had his business next door at No. 9 Pantiles. For details about Ashby’s shop and also Holyer’s shop, see my “Cut Above the Rest” article referred to above.

Shown below left is an image of the Pantiles in 1827 and on the right is a similar image dated 1880. Shown in the middle at the rear is The Bath House, with a partial view of No. 7 Pantiles in front of it to the right. Although little detail of No. 7 is shown they provide a good indication of what the Pantiles looked like at that time. The Bath House became the china and glass works business later in its history, as shown in an advertisement dated 1888 for J. Luck & son. As Whitbourn notes in his book buildings sprang up in the Pantiles, or The Parade, as it was earlier referred to as, in the 1630’s due in large measure to the presence of the towns famous spring waters, claimed to have medicinal benefits for those who drank it, and so it is known that buildings were being built in the Pantiles in the 17th century, and perhaps No. 7 was one of them. The Gloster tavern I referred to earlier in Kipps drawing was not built until about 1700. Also in Whitbourns booket is the following reference to No. 7 and 9 Pantiles “ Eighteenth century views show a building there with a cat slide roof, as distinct from the present Georgian façade of The Vintry and excellent Georgian shop-front.”.

Shown later in this article are 20th and 21st century photos of No. 7 Pantiles when it was the premises of The Vintry and later of the Gastronomia G Italian restaurant. The building still retains the curved front windows and entrance door shown in the photo of 1897.

English Heritage gave this building a Grade II listing on May 20,1952. The listing details read “Erected in 1660 as a private house and converted into a shop in 1768. 3 storeys, fronted with painted wood. The 2nd floor has 2 sashes with glazing bars intact.The lst floor has 2 curved bays with tripartite glazing. 2 large curved shop windows below, also with the glazing bars intact. Over these shop windows a wide continuous hood or entablature has been added. Good shop interior with cast iron columns. On the north east front of the house, in Pink Alley, is a doorway with a curved flight of 4 steps with an unusual early Cl9 carved trellised wooden porch. Nos 1 to 7 (odd) and 11 to 19 (odd) form a group.”


Unfortunately ,details about the occupants of No. 7 Pantiles before 1824 are not known and about all that is known is that this shop was one of a few butchers shops in Butchers Row as shown on John Bowra’s 1738 map. All indications are that it remained a butchers shop throughout the 18th century and into the early 19th century.


The 1824 Pigots directory gave a listing for “Richard Delves,house agent & coal dealer”, the only listing for the family in the trade directory for that year. The 1840 Pigots listed “Mr Henry Delves, Parade” in the list of “Nobility, Gentry and Clergy”. In the same directory under the heading of Auctioneers and Appraisers was “Richard Delves, Pelham House”. Under the heading of butchers was “Joseph Delves, Chapel Place”, “William Delves, Market Place” Under the heading of Grocers and Tea Dealers was “ Joseph Delves, Bath Square (which was the Pantiles). Under the heading of House Agents was “ Joseph Delves (& grocer), Bath Square”, “Joseph Delves, Chapel Place”, “Richard Delves,Pelham House”.

As one can see the Delves family were very active in the town and since the 18th century have played an important role in various trades and professions in the town’s history. They are all related in some way if one traces the family back in time, but the most predominate branch of the Delves clan in Tunbridge Wells have their ancestral roots in Sussex, particulary Wadhurst ,Waldron and Frant. As noted by Roger Farthing, it was Richard Delves (1726-1804), born in Waldron,Sussex, who was a butcher in Tunbridge Wells in 1754 and who, when he died, had an estate that included eleven farms totally some 600 acres. It is believed by the research that Richard Delves once occupied No. 7 Pantiles where he had a butchers shop, although the proof of this assertion is lacking. What is known from the directory listings I gave above is that there was a grocer and tea dealer in the Pantiles in 1840 by the name of Joseph Delves who had been born 1805 in Tunbridge Wells, who married Sarah Turley, born 1817 in Hawkhurst,Kent on December 6,1837 at Hawkhurst, with whom he had six children , all born in Tunbridge Wells. The 1841 census, taken at Bath Square, Pantiles recorded Joseph as a grocer. Living with him was his wife Sarah and two of their childen. The same Joseph Delves appears in the 1851 census as a house agent, and living with him was his wife Sarah, five of their children, one visitor, three servants and mother in law Ann Turley, a widow born 1789 in Hastings,Sussex. At the time of the 1861 census, taken at Clarence Road,Tunbridge Wells, Joseph was given as a house agent. Living with him was his wife Sarah and four of his children. Joseph was baptised November 15,1805 in Tunbridge Wells at the Chapel, and had been born July 3,1805, to parents Richard and Eleanor Delves, who were Richard Delves (1777-1842) and Eleanor Buckland (1776-1836). Richard Delves (1777-1842) was one of 12 children born to Joseph Delves (1753-1827) and Susannah Fry (1752-1832) with Joseph Delves being one of eleven children born to Richard Delves (1726-1804) and Dorothea Mercer (1735-1779) where this Richard Delves is the same one Roger Farthing referred to as the founder of the Delves Dynasty.

Another reference to Delves in the Pantiles is in the 1858 Melville directory which gave “Delves and Jull, grocers, Parade”. A listing for 1851 gave “Delves & Jull, house and estate agents, Parade”. The Delves referred to here is believed by the researcher to be Joseph Delves (born 1806) that I referred to above. The 1861 census, taken at Abergavenny Villa,Tunbridge Wells gave Robert Jull, a house and estate agent, born 1820 in Wrotham,Kent. Robert Jull was one of 10 children born to Thomas Jull (1774-1857) and Ann Fry (1784-1862).Living with him was his wife Kate Knight Jull ; four children and two servants. He had married Elizabeth Knight in 1846 and had seven children with her. He died in Tunbridge Wells June 27,1869 and was given in the probate records as a house agent who left an estate valued at under 7,000 pounds to his wife Elizabeth.It is believed by the researcher that he was related to John Jull of Staplehurst who in the period of 1858 to 1903 at least was a grocer and draper. Obviously Joseph Delves and Robert Jull were both experienced in the grocers trade and in the house and estate agents business.

One other member of the Delves clan with a connection to the Pantiles was Henry Delves(1787-1869) born March 22,1787 in Tunbridge Wells and died January 19,1869 in Frant. He was one of 13 children born to Joseph Delves (1753-1827) and Susannah Fray(1752-1832) who I referred to above. Henry was baptised march 30,1787 in Tunbridge Wells. The 1841 census, taken at the Parade (Pantiles) recorded him as”independent”. Living with him was his wife Anmn Delves, nee Parman (1785-1863).Although they were married in Tunbridge Wells on April 6,1808 the couple appear not to have had any children. From 1831 to 1835 he was a church warden. He is listed under the nobility and gentry section of the 1840 Pigots as “ Mr Henry Delves,Parade”. The 1851 census, taken at the Parade, gave Henry as a retired butcher. Living with him was his wife Ann, a house servant and a boarder. The 1861 census, taken at The Parade listed him as a retired butcher. Living with him was his wife Ann and two servants. Probate records gave Henry Delves of Tunbridge Wells, gentleman, who died January 19,1869 in Tunbridge Wells. The executors of his under 2,000 pound estate was William Delves of Tunbridge Wells, gentlelan, and Rev James Fry of Redhill, clerk, the nephews.


I  lead off my coverage of Edward Durrant with the image opposite and text below from the 1892 publication ‘Pictorial History of Tunbridge Wells’.Mr E., Durrant, Grocer, wine,spirit & beer merchant, 7 The Pantiles-On the Pantiles, directly opposite the General Post Office, will be noticed the establishment of Mr E. Durrant, which is quite unique in its style, and dates back to the year 1768, only a decade after the era when Beau Nash ruled Society, flirted with Miss Cidleigh (afterwards Duchess of Kingston), and the walks were frequented by Colley Cibber, Dr. Johnson, Mrs Pitt, and Mr Richardson, the historian of the day. The grocery business was in the hands of one Delves, a member of the old Sussex family of that name, Delve signifying ‘delve” to dig. Thirty years ago Mr Durrant added the wine, spirit and beer trades, and has built up one of the most representative businesses in this line on the south coast. The extensive vaults in the Market Street and the Frant Road hold some thousands of dozens-the proprietor being his own importer and bottler. His specialties in blends of Scotch Whiskley, “the Nevill”, “the Glenlivit” and “The golden Drop”, are well known all round the country. But it must not be thought,although the buildings remain with their old world flavour, so refreshing in appearance after the glare of red bricks and patent glass of modern structures, that Mr Durrant has not gone with the times in modernizing prices, his voluminous priced catalogue testifying that he will not be beaten by London stores, or any of the numerous little country imitators, and still upholding that quality which is so essential to secure a large connexion. A curiosu circumstance is that half the premises are in Kent and half in Sussex. Though personally  conducting his business, Mr Durrant finds time to help various institutions in the town, and holds many public appointments”.

Edward Durrant was born 1835 in Bocking,Essex, one of several children born to Thomas Durrant, born 1811 in Essex and Sophia Durrant, born 1811, Essex. He was baptised September 14,1835 at Chelmsford,Essex. At the time of the 1841 census, taken at Bocking,Essex, Edward was living with his parents and sister Siohia, age 3. His father at that time was an innkeeper. At the time of the 1851 census, taken at 45/47 London Road in Norwich, Edward was working as an apprentice in the grocers business of John H. Wootten. Edward took over this business sometime afterwards and is found in charge of this shop at the time of the 1861 census. In that census Edward is still single, with the occupation of grocer  and was employing 8 assistants.With him was three grocers assistants and three domestic servants.

Sometime between 1861 and 1871 Edward  moved to Tunbridge Wells and in the 1871 census is found at No. 7 The Parade where he was a grocer and wine maker. He was still single and living with him was seven grocers assistants and three domestic servants. In 1875 he married Ellen (maiden name unknown), who had been born 1844 in Tunbridge Wells. With her he had five children in Tunbridge Wells between 1876 and 1887. Shown above is an advertisement for his business that appeared in the 1863 Bragshaw directory.

Shown above are two postcard views of the Pantiles in which Durrant's shop is shown on the left in the foreground with only the last letters "RANT" on his shop sign being visible.

The 1881 census, taken at No. 7 The Parade recorded Edward as a grocer and wine merchant. With him was his wife Ellen (given incorrectly as Eden), four of his children and three domestic servants. Directories of 1874. 1882 , and 1899 gave the listing “ Edward Durrant, 7 Parade, grocer and wine and spirit merchant”. The 1891 census, taken at No. 7 The Parade gave Edward as a grocer and wine merchant employer. With him was his wife Ellen ; four of his children, including his only son Edward, born 1887, the youngest child. Also present were three domestic servants.

Probate records show that Edward was of Tunbridge Wells when he died on June 5,1906. The executors of his 24,144 pound estate was his wife Ellen Durrant, widow, gilbert Mason, gentleman, and Alfred Ralph the younger, grocer. Edwards son Edward junior did not take over his father’s business and the executors of his estate sold it to an undisclosed party.  The probate record for his wife Ellen had her of 8 Linden Park, Tunbridge Wells, widow, when she died February 18,1940, some 34 years after her husband!. The executos of her estate were Alfred Ralph, grocer, and her daughter Amy Caroline Sophia Fowles, widow. Amy had been born 1875 in Tunbridge Wells and married Edwin Derbyshire Fowles (1876-1912) on September 5,1908 and after the marriage lived in Finsbury and Fulham. She died July 28,1953. Edward was buried in the Tunbridge Wells borough cemetery on June 7,1906 and his wife was buried there February 21,1940.

The Kent & Sussex newspaper carried a large number of advertisments for the business throughout the period of 1884 to 1903. The Courier of February 6,1884 for example contained an advertisement for his brandy “Feltoes special line 1/6 bottle; special port 30/doz., special sherry 30/doz., and Dubonnets Epernary Champagne 48/doz.” 

From the archives is a record regarding a lease of premises by Col Weller to Edward Durrant date 1885. Weller owned property in the Parade and in Bishops Down and died in 1890.

Edward Durrant junior is found in the 1901 census as a boarder with a large group of other student at the Highbury House School at 20 Church Road in St Marylebone,Middlesex. In the 1911 census, he was living at 3 Kent Terrace, Regents Park, London living as a boarder of private means. What became of him after 1911 was not investigated.

Although Edward Durrant had died in 1906 and no member of his family to carry on the business it is found that the name of Edward Durrant, as the name of the shop continued well after his death until the 1950’s. Directories of 1913 to 1938 for example give the listing “ Edward Durrant, grocer , wine and spirit merchant, 7 The Pantiles”. Who ran the business during this time was not determined. By 1954 No. 7 The Pantiles became the wine merchants shop of George Prentis, details of which are given below.


When the wine and spirit shop , operating as” Edward Furrant”, closed in the early 1950’s it was taken over by George Prentis. A 1950 directory gave “George Prentis & Son Ltd., 7 the Pantiles”. Directories of 1954 to 1958 gave “ George Prentis, wine merchant, 7 the Pantiles”. The 1959 directory gave “G. Prentis & Son Ltd, wine merchants, 7 the Pantiles”. A 1963 directory, the last one found for this business, gave “George Prentis & Son, wine merchants, 7 The Pantiles and 9a High Street, Tonbridge. When this business. It is not known by the researcher who took over this business but the next business of note was “The Vintry”, a food and wine establishment. Family details about George Prentis and his son were not determined but it is believed he was related (the son? ) of George Prentis, a wine merchant, with a business in Maidstone.


This business is found in a  1979 to 1982 directory as Todd Vintners Ltd,The Pantiles Vintry, 7 the Pantiles. Another 1982 directory gave “Pantiles Vintry, 7 the Pantiles”. Shown opposite is a 1986 photo of the shop front. This photo shows that the business offered wine and food.  It was not established who Mr Todd was. By 2006 No. 7 became the premises of an Italian café and bar called Gastronomia G.

The date of 2006 is based on the following posting to the internet in 2006.  “ Sadly Todds Vinvtry is no longer open, which is a great loss as it contained so many unusual food items from all over the world and just the smell of the cheese and cured meats used to get me reaching into my wallet.They also stocked some very fine wines”.  In addition to wine and spirits they also sold beer and also offered delivery of same.


This establishment is a café and bar that offers Italian Cuisine. The earliest records for this business date back to 2006 and it is still in business in 2015. Most of the customer reviews of this business date from 2012 onwards. Due to space limitations, two images of this restaurant are given above in the section  about  Edward Durrant. Next door at No. 9, the one- time shop of Reginald Ashby the butcher is, or was, a dog shop called “Collared”. With this I end my coverage of this topic.





By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay,Ontario,Canada

Date: September 11,2014


This development  took place in the mid 19th century on land owned by the Nevill family. The development called for the initial construction of eleven fine large homes, some detached , some semi-detached on a tract of land perched on a ridge overlooking the countryside. It followed in many ways the similar development of Nevill Park and both overlooked one another.Shown opposite is a map of Hungershall Park as given in the 1909 OS map. All of the homes faced north and were constructed on large nicely landscaped grounds. While many were constructed from local sandstone, other materials were also used. All of the homes were 2 sty with tile roofs, and included bay windows and other architectural features typical of the Victorian architectural style, popular at the time, and found extensively throughout the town. House No. 4 is shown on the plan as parcel No. 746.

Construction of homes in the development began in 1858 at the east end, and by 1861 four homes  (no. 1-4) had been completed. By 1867 all eleven homes were finished and occupied.

A recent Conservation Area Report states that Hungershall Park was undertaken some 25 years after Nevill Park  and that it “is an impressive sequence of Italianate villas, often with deep projecting eaves.Although there are different elements within the detailing of the elevations all are classically derived and form a harmonious group”. For further information about this park and others in the town see the book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’ by the Civic Society published in 2004.


Shown opposite is a site map of part of the development dated 2002, showing No. 4 highlighted in red. Just to the west of it is shown a second residence named “Little Aulderwood”, which also is shown on the 1909 map. The site of No.4 was on the largest plot of land in all the development, and  when the home was constructed ,in the period just before 1861, the only house on the lot was the large main house. Little Aulderwood came later and was carved out of the north- west corner of the original lot. As can be seen from both plans the house was set well back off the road and access to it was by way of a circular drive. Also associated with the original house was a coachmans/stables block in which the estates coachman/groom lived with his family, and in which the owner of No. 4 kept his horse and carriage. Later, when the age of the motor car arrived the horse was put out to pasture and carriage replaced by a motor car which was kept in the coachman/stable building. In the 20th century this building appears to have been removed from the site and was replaced by a new garage.

The houses in this development, like most others,  were built by the Nevill family, who retained ownership of them and rented them out to tenants. This practice continued until about the first quarter of the 20th century when they were sold off and offered to those wishing to take a freehold interest in the home and grounds. Such was the case with No. 4 ,when  on March 19,1924 No. 4 was sold outright to Robert Bruce Aitken who was a resident there since at least the time of the 1911 census.

Who designed and built the home is not known, but as can be seen from the photo opposite it was a large 2 sty home constructed of local sandstone, which over the passage of time has taken on a rustic gray tone. The home features banks of bay windows with a central entrance with portico supported on a pair of columns.

Shown opposite is another view of the home, this one taken showing the rear elevation from the garden. Notable features in this photograph is the larger windows in the basement level, half of which appear above ground when viewed from a distance, over which is a deck with a decorative white railing. Also of significance is the large conservatory or “orange house” that was a popular addition to any grand home in the 19th century.

Initially No. 4 was constructed as a single family home, but in the 20th century it was converted into a total of eight flats,numbered 4A to 4F, each being somewhat different in size and layout .There was also “Flat 1 & 2” and “The Cottage”.Shown opposite is site map from a 2005 Planning Authority application pertaining to a new garage, and on this plan you can see more detail about how the home has been divided into a north and south half and the size of the ccnservatory had been increased. The plan also shows the location of a garage to the east of the main house to which the proposed garage was to be attached. The part of the house, on the south-west side is believed to be a 20th century addition, constructed to provide an additional flat(3).

A review of Planning Applications show that most of the conversion of residence into flats took place in the years leading up to 1974. Apart from several applications pertaining to tree removal the only applications since that time are summarized below.

In 1974 an application by A. Morgan esq. (Mr R. Tupps, 50 Holmwood Road, T. Wells) was made to obtain approval for 2 self- contained flats in the basement, which was approved.  The next application was in 2002 for the erection of two attached garages adjacent to the existing garage. The application makes reference to the building already in use as 8 flats “with an extensive garden setting with drive,courtyard and detached garage capable of housing up to 4 cars. The new garage was  to be used for the unit known as ‘The Cottage’, occupied by the applicant Mr T. Whillier.Although approval was given for this garage the work was not undertaken. The next and last application of note was for the demolition of a garage and the erection of a double garage. The applicant was Dr. A Enyel of Flat A, 4 Hungershall. This work was approved and it appears that the garage was constructed.

No. 4 Hungershall Park has been advertised on the market as the flats have come available and it is from these listings that the following information has been obtained. Prices of the flats are quite high, with 4e selling in 1998 for 85,000 pounds but in 2002 for 210,000 pounds and then again in 2008 for 240,000 pounds. The prices of the other flats have risen in the same way and for about the same price.

Recently Savills offered two apartments in the building as one lot for a price of over one million pounds. These flats were located  on the ground floor and on the lower ground floor being “Lawnside” of 2399 sf ; “Garden Flat” of 1233 sf; and a garage of 344 sf. The floor plans for these flats are shown below.


Given here is a chronological record of the occupants of this home, covering the period of 1861 to 1924, while it was still in single family use. This account is based on only those census and directory records available to the researcher and the list may not be complete, particularly if the occupants were only there for a short time.

1861-1861………….. Ann Jeffrey (widow, private means).Ann was born 1792 at Speldhurst and in 1861 living with her was her nephew George Wheeler,age 24  and his son and four servants.

1862-1881………….. Mrs Ann Earle (widow,private means).Ann was  born 1803 at Pattiningham,Staffordshire and lived at the residence in 1871 with her two spinster daughters Clara,ae 35, and Gertrude,age 26. Plus four servants. In 1881 living at the residence was Ann, her daughter Clara, and five servants. Her husband was William Earle, who in 1861 was a retired merchant living in Speldhurst with his wife Ann; their foru children; two cousins and six servants. In 1851 Ann and William and six of their children plus five servants were living in Camberwell,Surrey. Probate records show that Ann died October 19,1883 at 4 Hungershall Park, leaving an estate valued at 57,518 pounds.

1882-1889……………Mr & Mrs R. Harrild . The Haileybury School register of 1882 and 1888 gave Walter Carless Harrild born April 22,1869, the son of Mrs Harrild, 4 Hungershall Park is referred to and also mention of a son of the late R. Harrild,esq of Hungershall Park in 1887. Mr & Mrs Harrild were Robert Harrild(1808-1871), a printing materials manufacturer who died in 1871 at Lewisham,Kent, leaving  an estate of 90,000 pounds to his wife Mary Ann Harrild,nee Oliver (1832-1889). Robert and Mary Ann had four children including Walter Carless Harrild (1869-1947). Robert had first married Mary Baxter (1813-1839) and with her had one child. Mary Ann Harrild was one of three children born to George and Mary Ann Baxter. She had been born 1832 in Darrington,Sussex and died in Tunbridge Wells (most likely at No. 4 Hungershall, on March 31,1889 leaving an estate valued at 13,801 pounds.

1890-1899………….. William Brown (retired merchant & wholesale stationer). William was born 1812 in London. In 1891 living with him was his wife Mary F, born 1820 London ; three of their children and five servants. Living in the stables was Henry Weller, the coachman and groom along with his wife and daughter.In 1881 William was a merchant and wholesale stationer, living with his wife Mary Freshpole Brown ; three of their children; three grandchildren and six servants, at Wuarry Hill House,Tunbridge Wells. In 1851 to 1871 the family was living at Clapham,Surrey .William Brown died in Tunbridge Wells May 29,1900 leaving an estate valued at 95,600 pounds.

 1900-1910…………… unknown. House vacant at time of 1901 census.

1911-1924…………… Robert Bruce Aitken (solicitor). Robert was born 1866 at Whittle, Lancashire and in 1911 living with him was his wife Harriettt, born 1863 at Bromley,Kent, and four servants.The couple had been married in 1895 and had two children. On March 19,1924 Robert purchased a freehold interest in No. 4 Hungershall Park from the Nevill family. Robert was one of six children born to Robert Atkin,born 1823 in Scotland, a Galic printer and landowner, and Mary Elizabeth Aitkin, born 1840 in Preston,Lancashire. Robert and his wife were married on June 12,1894 at Bromley,Kent. In 1871 Robert was living with his parents in Crow Croft House, Manchester and Newton,Lancashire. In 1881 Robert was a student attending Rugby School in Warwickshire. Robert died in Berkshire November 21,1942 leaving an estate to his wife Harriet valued at 20,937 pounds.


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