Royal Tunbridge Wells is a large town and Borough in west Kent , England , about 40 miles (64 km) south-east of central London by road, 34.5 miles (55.5 km) by rail. The town is close to the border of the county of East Sussex . It is situated at the northern edge of the High Weald , the sandstone geology of which is exemplified by the rock formations at the Wellington Rocks and High Rocks .
The town came into being as a spa in Georgian times and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Richard (Beau) Nash when the Pantiles and its chalybeate spring attracted visitors who wished to take the waters. Though its popularity waned with the advent of sea bathing, the town remains popular and derives some 30% of its income from the tourist industry.
In the United Kingdom , Tunbridge Wells has a reputation as being the archetypal conservative " Middle England " town, a stereotype that is typified by the fictional letter-writer " Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells ".
The area which is now Tunbridge Wells in Kent was part of the parish of Speldhurst for hundreds of years, but the origin of the town as it is today, however, came in the seventeenth century.
In 1606 Dudley, Lord North , a courtier to James I who was staying at a hunting lodge in Eridge in the hope that the country air might improve his ailing constitution, discovered a chalybeate spring. He drank from the spring and, when his health improved, he became convinced that it had healing properties.  He persuaded his rich friends in London to try it, and by the time Queen Henrietta Maria , wife of King Charles I , visited in 1630 it had established itself as a spa retreat. By 1636 it had become so popular that two houses were built next to the spring to cater for the visitors, one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen, and in 1664 Lord Muskerry, Lord of the Manor, enclosed it with a triangular stone wall, and built a hall "to shelter the dippers in wet weather."
By the early nineteenth century Tunbridge Wells experienced growth as a place for the well-to-do to visit and make their homes.
It became a fashionable resort town again following visits by the Duchess of Kent , Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert , and benefited from a new estate on
Mount Pleasant and the building of the Trinity church in 1827, and improvements made to the town and the provision of facilities such as gas lighting and a police service meant that by 1837 the town population had swelled to 9,100.
In 1842 an omnibus service was set up that ran from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells, enabling visitors to arrive from London within two hours, and in 1845 the town was linked to the railway network via a branch from South Eastern Railway's London-Hastings Hastings Line at Tonbridge. During this time Decimus Burton developed John Ward's Calverley Park estate.
Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent shopping offers a unique experience.
The combination of specialist shops with big high street names, in a charming and historic setting, make the town a popular destination with all kinds of shoppers.
This is a jolly good read - http://www.anke.tw/anke/high-street/
Cranbrook and the Wealden Villages are well worth a visit with their good selection of small specialist shops, antique shops and eateries - good places to seek out local specialities or a special reminder of the area to take home.
Payne & Son