A Georgian red and white striped glass flask.
Tunbridge Wells embodies Kent as the centre of fashionable society chosen for its natural beauty and health restoring powers and proximity to the administrative and cultural centre (London).
The area which is now Tunbridge Wells 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.”
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