ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 5

 

AT THE MARKET

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

Date: September 12,2018

INTRODUCTION 

Since the community of Tunbridge Wells sprang up in the early 17th century when ‘taking the waters ‘ became popular, those in and around the growing community gathered in the Pantiles and set up their stalls at a market. The Tunbridge Wells Improvement Act was passed in 1835 empowering Tunbridge Wells to hold fairs and markets of its own.

In these early times, before the arrival of refrigeration and canning, daily shopping by the housewife was the norm, where she bought the day’s groceries from shops and street vendors while they were fresh.

Although local fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat products made up the bulk of items to be found at the market it was not long before locally made products such as honey, preserves, ciders and an assortment of hand-made craft items began to be offered to residents and visitors alike.

Kent, known as “The Garden of England “naturally has some of the best locally sourced food and drink around. With the abundance of Wealden countryside in our borough it is not surprising that shopping for local produce in Tunbridge Wells was a popular if not necessary event.

Virtually year round supplies of locally grown organic and non-organic fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and beverages mean that local people and visitors alike take advantage of the best in food and drink.

The area is particularly known for its soft fruits, such as cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and plums; also for apples and pears, honey, asparagus, hops (used for making beer and decoration), and locally produced wines and juices. Local specialities also include cob nuts, cider and quince.

Towns and villages throughout the borough of Tunbridge Wells enjoy the benefit of Mother Nature’s bounty at a number of regular farmers’ markets.

Not only that, there are small family concerns which make artisanal food like chocolate, ice-cream, chutney, ale and gin!

Naturally the seasons rule the stalls so the suppliers and displays are wonderfully representative of our local harvest encouraging an exciting adventure for the palate!

Throughout the 17th,18th and 19th century local guides of the town report on a weekly market held at the Pantiles on Friday.

Although farmers markets are still popular today, shopping for groceries has largely shifted away from daily to weekly shopping, due to improvements in the preservation of food stuffs and the fact that most women work out of the home. The desire for fresh fruits and vegetables has of course not waned and are sought after at local markets. The types of items found at the market has also mushroomed with many non-food products being made available.

In Tunbridge Wells there are two main markets, one held at the Pantiles and the other at the Civic Centre. In this article I provide information about them , and others, and provide some references to local markets dating back to the 17th century.

THE MARKET IN THE 17TH CENTURY

From Grammot in his Memoirs it was reported for the year 1664 that “ On the other side of the shops in the Parade (Pantiles) is a market and it is the custom here for every person to buy their own provisions. Care is taken that nothing appears offensive upon the stalls. Here young fair fresh-coloured country girls with clean linen, small straw hats, and neat shoes and stockings, sell game, vegetables, flowers and fruit”.

The book ‘ Tunbridge Wells As It Was” by Jean Mauldon reported “ By the end of the 17th century the hamlet in the parish of Speldhurst as ti was described , existed only for the pleasure of visitors during the season from June to September. The resident population was minimal. From the 1680’s onward some quite large houses were built on Mount Sion and Mount Ephraim to be let out in apartments….A chapel (King Charles the Martyr) and permanent shops had been built on the Walks (Parade/Pantiles) by the well and these were augmented by market stalls set up under the trees to sell produce fresh from the country”.

Roger Farthing in his book ‘ Royal Tunbridge Wells’ reported “ In 1636 two little houses were put up  for coffee-drinking and pipe-smoking and other conveniences of the ladies and gentlemen; and two years later a walk was formed from a grassy bank and an avenue of trees was planted, while tradesmen began to display their wares for the peripatetic water-drinkers”. It is to be expected that stall were also set up in the Pantiles around that time for the sale of local farm goods.

THE MARKET IN THE 18TH CENTURY

Throughout the 18th century the weekly market was held at the Pantiles.  In 1810 the town’s population was about 1,600 but surrounded by farmland where fruits and vegetables were grown in abundance and taken to market.

A guide of 1771 gave “ There is a good fish market (in the Pantiles) supplied with a variety of sea, pond and river fish; and a country market abundantly stocked with butter, eggs, garden stuffs and very fine poultry; and the butchers here are remarkable for the excellent good meat”.

THE MARKET IN THE 19TH CENTURY

The Tunbridge Wells Guide by J. Sprange of 1801 reported that a market day was Friday and held in the Pantiles.

A local guide of 1807 reported “ A plentiful market is held in the town and its shops are noted for their elegant turnery ware” (Tunbridge Ware).

A guide of 1817 reported “ About the centre of town is the large ancient market-place in which the market is held weekly on a Saturday”.

In my article ‘ The Corn Exchange’ dated May 17,2012 I reported on the history of this building which began as Sarah Baker’s theatre built around the end of the 18th century (sometimes given as 1799 ,1801 or 1802). In 1843 the theatre closed and the building was converted into the Corn Exchange.  Today the Corn Exchange, at 49 Pantiles, is currently or at least recently in use as a shopping arcade. Shown opposite and below is an image of the Corn Exchange building.

Historical accounts report that the old theatre became the Corn Exchange in 1843 when it was forced to close,some 27 years after the death of Sarah Brown.

A directory of 1847  stated "The Theatre has been converted into a Corn Exchange, and an elegant Market-house erected at Calverley Place".

Having a Corn Exchange was an important attribute to the town especially since the population was growing and the production of corn,cereal grains and vegetables were on the rise.The Corn Exchange was a building where farmers and merchants traded corn and other cereal grains,something which was common in Britain during the 18th century. Peltons Guide adds; "The Corn Exchange is situated on the east of the Pantiles,adjoining the late Sussex Hotel. A corn-market is held every Friday afternoon. The hall is used principally by the farmers and dealers,who have stands and other conveniences for conducting their business". Later all manner of agricultural products were sold or exchanged there. Farmers would seal bargains by slapping wrists. In Tunbridge Wells the Corn Exchange was only used for this purpose on Fridays' and for the rest of the time the building was used as a public hall.

The 1851 directory mentions as it did in 1847 that the old theatre had become the Corn Exchange with the market held on Friday but adds that "the original corn market is still held at the Kentish Hotel,on the same day".The 1862 directory gives the same information as 1851 but describes the Corn Exchange as "a neat building".By 1867 the directory simply lists "The Corn Exchange, Parade with no mention of the market at the Kentish Hotel.

In 1874 the directory refers to the Corn Exchange holding its market on Friday but adds that "There is also a small vegetable market there on Tuesday" and the same listing appears for 1882.

The use of the Corn Exchange declined as the years passed and during the First World War the building was used as a drill hall by the West Kent Yeomanry,and it was there that they paraded before marching through the town on their way to fight in France. In 1952 the Corn Exchange building was given a Grade II listing.

Pigots 1840 guide reported “ The Tunbridge Market day is on Friday. A new and elegant Market House has been erected at Calverley Place. An image of this Market House is shown opposite.

From my article ‘The Old Town Hall’ dated May 18, 2014 I gave the following information about the Market House (later the Town Hall). “Discussions began in the early 1830’s about the construction of a building on Calverley Road for use as an indoor market. These discussions came to fruition in 1835 when a grand  2 sty sandstone building with columns was constructed in the north east side of Calverley Road  between the Camden Inn(Camden Hotel) on the left and the recently constructed Calverley Place on the right. This project was the collaborative work of the  Ward family who owned the land and Decimus Burton who designed and built it. The main floor of the building became the place where vendors would display their goods in stalls rented from Mr Ward with the upstairs used a place where the Town Commissioners held their meetings.Shown opposite is an artist’s sketch of the buildings as given in Colbrans 1840 Guide.If you compare this image to later images note that the wings on both sides of the building have had an extension on the second floor to bring the building on the left side up against the Camden Inn.

The market was intended to be the answer to the need for shopping facilities in the fast-developing upper part of the town, but its life was short-though it probably gave rise to the open-air market in Calverley Road which continued well into the 1940’s, when traffic congestion forced the Council to move the stalls into Goods Station Road, where in 1951 one or two still gathered on Saturday afternoons. Shown opposite is an image of the Calverley Road Street Market circa 1910.

The market building itself was completely taken over by the Town Commissioners and called the Town Hall in 1858-and remained the Town Hall after the town became a borough in 1889 and until the completion of the new Civic Centre in 1941. A booked entitled ‘Tunbridge Wells 1951’ stated “ Now the building, commonly known as The Old Town hall, is part of the premises of the Tunbridge Wells School of Art.

The Tunbridge Wells School of Art ,sometimes referred to as the School of Arts and Crafts, had operated from the 3rd floor of the Technical Institute, but relocated to The Old Town Hall soon after 1941 when the building became vacant. They remained there until 1959 when the grand old building was demolished. A new building was constructed on the site, which in 1977 was the home of the National Provident Building.

Guides and directories throughout the period of 1877 to 1891 records that market day is held on Friday at the Pantiles. Peltons 1876 guide however gave “ Though there is strickly speaking no market in Tunbridge Wells there are many shops……….”

THE VICTORIA MARKET 

This market was active before the construction and opening of Royal Victoria Place in 1992 and as can be seen from the photo opposite a large assortment of clothing items were on offer there.








THE CAMDEN ROAD MARKET

Camden Road, one of the main commercial districts in the town, has over the years declined but is now being reinvigorated. Shown opposite is a photo from the 1960’s of a market being held there.








THE CALVERLEY ROAD MARKET

Calverley Road dates back to the early history of the town and became one of the town’s main commercial districts, lined with shops of all types.

Early postcard views of Calverley Road ,like the one opposite circa 1910,show rows of stalls and street vendors carts at various points right up to 5 Ways.




THE MARKETS TODAY

[1] CIVIC CENTRE 

Royal Tunbridge Wells has a Farmers’ Market outside the Town Hall, Mount Pleasant Road, every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 9am to 2pm. This market, established in 1999, has many a colourful characters to enthusiastically and proudly regale you about their wares. Shown below are two recent photos of this market.














[2] THE PANTILES
 

A second town market is also held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month in the Pantiles from 10am to 4pm.  Speciality goodies include bread, cakes, homemade deli nibbles and fish as well as the usual farm produce.  Also to be found there is a large selection of craft items and an assortment of other interesting and useful products.

This market revives the tradition of an open-air market staged at this venue several centuries ago. Shown here are two modern phtographs of this market.

A recent article gave the following “The Pantiles Markets in Tunbridge Wells recommence on Saturday 7 March under the management of Market Square Group, a professional market operator appointed by the Pantiles Events Company (PEC). PEC will continue to organise Jazz on the Pantiles, Pantiles Proms and other special events throughout the year.Market Square Group will build on the success of the already thriving markets, increase awareness of the market through publicity, invest in the market infrastructure and develop the market provision further for the benefit of all traders and stakeholders. Their intention is to keep the market local with existing stallholders continuing to trade and new traders joining them to enhance what is offered. Market Square Group will also offer specialist and seasonal markets in addition to the regular markets.This is a fantastic move forward which will further attract people into The Pantiles and Tunbridge Wells.”

[3] THE CHRISTMAS MARKET AT THE PANTILES

 

 

 

A special Christmas Market is held on a week day a few days before the December 25TH so you can pick up your turkeys, vegetables and festive goodies so all is fresh for the table.  Shown here is a poster for this market and a modern photograph.








THE MAJESTIC LIME TREE-A CHANGING STREET SCENE

 

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

Date: December 9,2016

INTRODUCTION 

A comparision of early 20th century postcard views of Tunbridge Wells to current images shows just how much the street scene throughout the town has changed over the years.

On my visit to Tunbridge Wells in 2015 I was impressed by many things about the town but one thing that caught my eye was the proliferation of trees and shrubs throughout the landscape and more particularly how dense the vegetation was along the town’s residential streets. On my daily travels I was often required to duck below overhanging branches and crowded towards the curb by untrimmed shrubs reaching out beyond the property line. Many attempts to obtain a clear photograph of an interesting  building from the road were thwarted by a dense screening of vegetation. While I was impressed by the beautiful greenery and flowers and appreciated the need for privacy by the home’s owner I came away somewhat frustrated without the photo I was after. I must applaud however the efforts of property owners to landscape their property and to the town’s tree planting program as well as the Planning Authorities obvious activities in controlling the removal or trimming of trees in the Conservation Area.

Since the town was first settled in the early 1600’s the planting of Linden (Lime) trees , oaks and other species of trees in the Pantiles; along its main thoroughfares and residential streets; in the Commons and in its parks and cemeteries, did much to enhance the character of the town. Sadly, through storm damage, disease, roadwork, improper trimming, and redevelopment many of the fine trees planted out since Victorian times in the towns commercial districts have been lost and not replaced, although proposals have in recent times been made to rectify this.

This article provides a historical account of tree planting in the town, with a particular emphasis on the Linden (Lime) tree ,which was in great favour over other species ,for its many qualities and planted out in rows and groves throughout the town. The evolution of the town’s street scene is demonstrated by a series of “before and after” views of parts of the town where trees were once in abundance but now almost absent.

THE LINDEN TREE-DESCRIPTION AND USE IN THE TOWN

The Linden tree, often referred to in current and historic accounts of the town as the “Lime tree” is not related in any way to the tree that produces the citrus lime fruit. Although the citrus lime tree does not grow in England, due to the climate, it is interesting to note that some Americans and some others refer to people from England as “Limeys”, a name that originated from the addition of lime juice to drinking water by British sailors to avoid scurvy.

The Linden is a common tree found throughout England, Europe and North America and is of the genus “Tilia”. Richard Deakin, in his 1871 book ‘The Flowering Plants of Tunbridge Wells and Neighbourhood’ lists on page 9 three species of the Tilia genus that were found in Tunbridge Wells. From my article ‘The Life and Times of Richard Deakin-M.D. and Botanist’ dated December 8,2013 is the following overview “Richard Deakin was born 1809 at Nottingham,Nottinghamshire. He began his career as a physician but gained notoriety as an amateur Botanist. In the field of Botany he is credited as being the author of a series of well- illustrated and informative books on the topic of plants. His publications were major works and are often given as references by other authors. His first publication dates back to 1855 when he reported on the Flora of the Collosseum described as “a magnificently illustrated compendium of 420 different species of plants”. This was followed in 1857 with a four volume “Florigraphia Britannia” describing the flowing plants of Britain. Of most interest for the purpose of this article is a book he wrote while a resident of Tunbridge Wells, when he lived at #5 Hungershall Park, entitled “The Flowering Plants of Tunbridge Wells and Neighbourhood, a wonderful book containing a detailed description of plants he found in the area and well- illustrated with upwards of 800 engravings of plants, shown in black and white. This book was printed by the firm of Stidolph & Bellamy of Tunbridge Wells in 1870/71 and published by Groombridge and Sons in London.Richard had an interesting life and this article gives a description of his life with a particular emphasis on his time in Tunbridge Wells. Richard died in Tunbridge Wells at his home in Hungershall Park in 1873.”

Richard Deakin was of course not the only Botanist or casual visitor to the town to observe and comment on the towns beautiful scenery and its many trees.

Regarding the tree itself, the genus Tilia has some 30 species of trees native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. It is as deciduous tree that typically reaches a height of 65-130 feet. The Linden is a decorative tree valued for its pleasing shape and shade giving qualities. They have large Heat-shaped dark green leaves. The tree produces small, sweetly smelling, white flowers in June and July. The scent from the blossoms is so strong you can smell it hundreds of yards away. Bees are especially drawn to them and find the nectar so intoxicating that they can fall to the ground stunned. Apparently honey from the nectar has a very distinctive and pleasing flavour. Aphids are also very attracted to the nectar of the blossom but unfortunately for owners of vehicles who park beneath the tree, the aphids produce a sticky honey-dew that drops and sticks to the vehicle. Ants, which seek out the aphids, help to keep them under control. Shown above is a lovely lime tree in the autumn.

Since the beginning of time the value of the trees blossoms has been known, for when dried it is used to make a medicinal tea, noted for its ability to help you sleep and in aide of headaches and other ailments. Limes were planted by Royal Decree along many roads to ensure that the harvest of its flowers was plentiful.

 The Linden tree can live for hundreds of years. There is one tree for example in Gloucestershire that is estimated to be 2,000 years old. How many of them planted in Tunbridge Wells between the 17th and 19th century are still in existence is not known to the researcher but it’s likely that there are at least some of them still to be found.

After the blossom has faded and fallen, the nut-like fruit, about the size of a pea, is found on the tree in small clusters which are shed in October.

The wood from the tree is also valued. In Saxon times shields were made from the wood as it was very flexible and deflected blows rather than splitting. The wood is also used for intricate carving and detail work and also in the making of guitars because of its resonance qualities.

The bark of the tree is very fibrous and tenacious and in some parts of the country is made into ropes for rough and common purposes. When the bark is macerated in water it readily separates into thin tough layers and is used for making mats used by gardeners etc.

Although the Linden tree is but one of many species of trees and shrubs to be found throughout Tunbridge Wells, it certainly came into favour in the town as far back as the 1600’s, when at that time two rows of them were planted along the length of the Pantiles between the upper and lower walks. There are still Linden trees in the commons but some have been removed and not replaced. Shown opposite and below is a selection of a few old postcard views of the Pantiles. Also shown are images of the tragic storm damage to the trees during the hurricane of 1987.  Tourism websites and other accounts state “They (the trees)are particularly important for historic as well as visual reasons, since such trees were planted from the earliest years of the development of Tunbridge Wells, as an amenity for promenades”.

From the book ‘Recreation for the Young & Old’ published in 1821 by John Evans, is the following about the “Lime” trees in the Pantiles. “On each side of the Parade is a row of lofty lime trees, in whose branches the tuneful tribe warble their morning and evening song. The Lime or Linden, is one of the beauties among trees, says Dr. Aikin, and is rather cultivated on that account than for its utility. It grows straight and taper, with a smooth erect trunk, and a fine spreading head inclined to a conical form. Its leaf is large, and its bark smooth. In a good soil it arrives at a great height, and becomes a stately object. But it is seldom viewed single, and its chief glory arises from society. No tree is so much employed for avenues, as well as for bordering streets and roads. Some of the straight walks of ancient limes, which modern taste has hitherto spared, are beautiful specimens, of ‘the painted arch’ made by the intersection of branches which has been supposed to be imitated in the Gothic architecture of cathedrals. In the Pantiles birds hop from tree to tree chirping their native songs, creating a fascinating scenery. It is a grove, or rather an aviary!” Shown above is a photo of the “lime” trees in the Pantiles by an unidentified artist with a caption that states lime trees were “in the Pantiles before the fire of 1687 which swept through the buildings, requiring the buildings  to be reconstructed”. Show below is a photo from 1962 of a man using a vacuum sweeper to collect the leaves.

The use of the name “Linden” or “Lime” is found in common usage to describe for example Linden Park and Linden Park Road and Lime Hill Road in the town. In the 1950’s there was a company in Tunbridge Wells that manufactured cane fly fishing rods called Tunbridge Wells Rods Ltd (00506662) which produced rods bearing different product names including on called the “Linden”. Further afield in Groombridge and also Pembury  is a Lime Tree House. In Langton Green there is a Lime Tree Lodge. In Hawkshurst can be found ‘Lime Grove’ and in Lamberhurst is the Lime Tree Inn. These are but a few examples of many roads and places named after the tree.

Linden Park was named after the large number of Linden trees in that part of town. The book ‘The Residential Parks of Tunbridge Wells’ (2004) by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society provides a good account of the history of this residential development, which dates from 1886.

Broadwater Down is a mid 19th century residential development. When the road was first built it was lined on both sides by lime (Linden) trees which grew to a magnificent height and spread their branches over the road, creating a very pleasant perspective, as can be seen in the two early 19th century postcard views below.

Details about Broadwater Down can be found in my articles ‘The Broadwater Down Estate Development’ dated November 22,1013 and ‘Broadwater Down in Old Photographs’ dated July 14,2016. From the first article I wrote “The plan had called for the construction of one road ‘Broadwater’ Down to extend from Frant Road to Eridge road in a generally East-West orientation but on a gently sweeping curve, and on this road was to be constructed a continuous row of 45 grand Victorian style mansions set back of the road for some distance on large grounds and positioned on a lovely tree lined avenue. The tree lined avenue consisted of a double of row of lime trees which grew so large in size that their branches touched in the middle of the road. Unfortunately by 1909 their roots were causing problems and in December of that year Council had to spent some 2,000 pounds to renew the sewers”. In this article I provided the following quotations about the lime trees from Rev. John Hume Towsend who was the vicar of St Marks Church in Broadwater Down from 1881-1911, who recorded his observations in a booklet entitled ‘Where New and Old Meet’ published by A.T. Pelton. He said in part “The position of St Mark’s is at once beautiful and commanding.Situated almost exactly in the centre of an avenue of lime trees nearly a mile in length, its slender graceful spire is a well-known landmark for many miles around”….” This lovely avenue is seen to perfection in early spring. In the summer the air if filled with the frangrance of the blossoms and the sound of the bees seeking for honey is like the murmur of a distant waterfall.The trees on each side closely growing up to the limes have much spoiled the effect of the avenue itself. Their removal or diminution would be a great advantage to health and to the appearance of the place, but it is fervently hoped that no hands will be laid upon the avenue of limes itself. Anyone can cut down a tree, but no one can replace it”.

Since the time that the Broadwater Down development was created the homes along it, being on large plots of land, became targets for redevelopment. As a result many of the original homes were demolished  or their yards carved up into new sites for homes, accessed by new roads branching off Broadwater Down, all of which resulted in the loss of many of the lime trees. Fortunately there are many survivors.

In the Commons can be found a wide assortment of different types of trees and shrubs, among which can be found some Linden Trees. In the Commons was created the ‘Victoria Grove’, a double avenue of trees planted in 1835 to commemorate visits to the town by Princess Victoria with her mother the Duchess of Kent. Just to the north of it was ‘Queen’s Gove’ planted for the coronation of Queen Anne in 1702 and replanted in 1811. Unfortunately it never did well and died out in the early 1850’s. Victoria Grove was planted as three rows of sycamores, limes, and elms, but some trees had to be replaced in later years and often did not conform to the original plan. The elms succumbed to disease in 1971, and in 1992 a third row was replanted to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Elizabeth II’s assession. Shown opposite is photograph showing the Victoria Grove.

The Commons Conservators publish regular reports on work they have undertaken or plan to undertake in the Commons. Regarding Lime trees they stated on May 30,2014 that “We will be cutting the epidemic growth on the row of Lime trees on the other side of the road from Brighton Lake next week”. On June 24,2016 they reported “ The epidemic growth on the lime trees outside the houses opposite Brighton Lake will be removed in the next weeks. The Lime trees certainly have put on a large volume of growth now that we have Pollarded them”. Pollarding is a tree surgery procedure to trim back branches to confine their size and to reshape the tree which results in new growth. Shown opposite is a photo of the Lime trees referred to.

By the end of the 19th century a row of lime trees were planted up both sides of Mount Pleasant Hill from the SER station north to Crescent Road. The existence of these trees can be seen in the early 20th century postcard shown opposite. Mount Pleasant Hill, on Mount Pleasant Road was a main thoroughfare and busy commercial district of the town. On the east side of the road was a row of shops, often referred to as “The Broadway” in old accounts, which did a good trade both from local residents and visitors to the town arriving on the train. Shown below are two more modern views of Mount Pleasant Hill showing the existence of the Lime trees. The one on the left dates from the 1950’s and shows the trees were pollarded. The view to the right taken in more recent times shows the trees have branched out. Although not all of the trees have survived many of them can still be seen. When I visited Tunbridge Wells in 2015 my friend and travelling companion Mrs Susan Prince and I walked up and down Mount Pleasant Hill almost every day and noticed the trees, which improved the view on this busy road. These trees had been planted to shade the frontages of the shops and provide some shade for shoppers,who otherwise might be baked in the hot sun.

During WW I Tunbridge Wells was impacted by the war in many ways, as described in the book The Shock of War by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society. One of the effects of the war on local residents was the food rationing and the shortage of food, including tea. The Kent & Sussex Courier of Friday June 29,1917 published the following interesting article by Charles Trapp of St Augustine’s Church that he addressed “To the Editor………Dear Sir, Permit me, through your columns, to urge those who have lime trees in their gardens not to waste the flowers, which are now in full season. The flowers when picked should be well dried and stored away. In view of the possible shortage of tea the flowers of the limes may be useful to us. Those who have been abroad, and especially in France, will appreciate the value of the lime tree flowers as a substitute or tea. In these days, we should make use of everything . Yours truly…”

Another spot we visited in the town was ‘The Grove’ in Mount Sion and there could be seen various species of trees including some limes. Shown opposite is a early 20th century postcard view of The Grove. Information about The Grove can be found in my article ‘ The History of the Queen’s Grove’ dated March 9,2015. This plot of land dates back to 1703 when it was given to the town. In 1863 Rev William Law Pope spearheaded a development of the site and by 1863 some 100 trees had been planted of 31 species. In subsequent years, even up to today, alterations have taken place, particularly the removal and replacement of trees damaged or felled during a series of storms. Birch, oak and beech trees as well as limes and others can be seen there.

Both local cemeteries –Woodbury Park and the Borough Cemetery added later, contain trees of many species including limes, as I noted when I visited the later cemetery in 2015 in search of my ancestors headstones.

The Summer 2015 Newsletter of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society included an article by Sue Daniels entitled ‘On the Stump’. This article can be viewed in its entirety on the Societies website. In essence she commented on the sad loss of trees in the streetscape. “ Where have all the trees gone?” she asked. “ Tunbridge Wells owes much of its charm to its green and pleasant surroundings: its many parks; the Commons; and the trees that line, or used to line its main thoroughfares. Take a look at the town in Edwardian times”. She then presented a postcard view of the Pantiles and one of London Road. “By contrast those lushly planted streets now have sparse remnants of their  heritage or are littered with stumps and patched pavements where once were trees. Equally concerning is the lack of any new tree landscaping to soften the increasingly hard edges of our expanding, urbanizing town”…..”Calverley Road’s missing trees were not recorded (in a tree inventory) and will not be replaced” (apart from two due for replacement this autumn)…..”Trees lend shade during the summer, help mop up pollution form traffic and add character to the town….”

 Although much could be written on the topic of trees of the town; what has been done to save them or expand their numbers etc I close off my brief introduction to the topic. One can only hope that those in charge of keeping Tunbridge Wells beautiful for the enjoyment of residents and visitors will take action to ensure that trees continue to play an important and visible role in the town’s landscape.

SOME WINTER SCENES OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Shown here is a selection of views of the town taken in the winter after a snowfall. The locations should be easily recognizable.






 

 

 

 

                                                        





































































                                                   







                                                     MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
                                                         AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR


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