10 things to do in the spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells – just 45 miles from London

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Penshurst Place, which played host to BBC period drama ‘Wolf Hall’

1) Explore stunning Penshurst Palace and gardens, one of the wonderful locations where the BBC’s drama Wolf Hall was filmed. The Gardens are among the oldest in private ownership, with early records dating back to 1346 and considered to be one of the most beautiful in England.

2) Take the waters at Chalybeate. The iron-rich spring waters were reputedly used, back in the 18th century, to cure everything from infertility to hangovers, obesity and a ‘moist brain’. Chalybeate (pronounced Ka-lee-bee-at) means iron-rich, and the iron taste is evident in the water.

3) Taste some of the best English wines around when you take a tour of the nearby vineyards. Look out for Hush Heath, Chapel Down and Biddenden.

4) Shop till you drop. The combination of specialist shops with big high street names – all in a charming and historic setting, makes the town an ideal spot. Farmers markets are held on some Saturdays too.

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, picks some Chardonnay grapes during her visit to Chapel Down vineyard

5) Learn to cook at celebrity chef Rosemary Schranger’s Cookery School, which you’ll find in the gourmet heart of Tunbridge Wells at the lower Pantiles. ‘The Pantiles’ is actually a stunning Georgian colonnade. Cookery courses include a ‘keep it healthy’ day-course.

6) Explore some of the best architecture on a visit to some of the wonderful Kent churches. Check out the splendid plasterwork ceiling of King Charles the Martyr in Royal Tunbridge Wells and the beautiful collection of stained glass at All Saints’ in Tudeley.

7) Try Tai Chi, sketching or walk the dog and enjoy a bit of peace and serenity at Dunolarn Park, 20 minutes walk from the heart of the town. It’s a nature lover’s paradise and a great spot for picnics.

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The Pantiles is a Georgian colonnade in the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells

8) Discover the town with a Guided Walking Tour – every Thursday and Saturday from March to December at 11.30am at the Tourist Information Centre in the Corn Exchange. Discover the town’s 400 year history and hear about the famous visitors – from Queen Anne to Samuel Pepys – who made Tunbridge Wells the place in which to see and be seen. £5 per person.

9) Eat to your heart’s content. The Black Pig restaurant in the heart of town looks set to win awards, but it’s just one of 220 places for lunch or dinner in Tunbridge Wells. You can find everything from traditional English cuisine to amazing international dishes.

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Luxurious dining at The Black Pig, Royal Tunbridge Wells

10) Take in the live jazz performances at the town’s remaining bandstand. The ‘Jazz on the Pantiles’ summer festival has been running for more than 20 years and continues until the end of September. Catch the bands on Thursday the 17 and 24.

 

 

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