Tunbridge Wells Heritage Open Days 2023 was from Friday 8th September to Sunday 17th September 2023 inclusive.

Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s architectural, social and cultural heritage by offering visitors of all ages free access to a range of events that include interesting properties, guided walks, tours and talks. There are often art, craft and music events as well as displays of traditional skills. The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, in conjunction with the National Trust, helps to co-ordinate the events across the Borough of Tunbridge Wells.

Many activities adopted this year’s theme, Creativity Unwrapped, sharing England’s colourful history of creativity. The festival celebrated the experts and enthusiastic amateurs whose passions and skills add something special to our daily lives.

Tunbridge Wells Heritage Open Days 2023 Programme

Events are listed below so you can see what you may have missed.

Tunbridge Wells Events with Opening Times

1. Eridge Park Estate Archive
Nevill Estate Co Ltd, Estate Office, Eridge Park, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9JT
Visitors will have the opportunity to view examples of the following in the estate office at Eridge Park;
The John Robinson papers (1770 - 1782), The Abergavenny Family Plate (17th Century) along with a longcase clock and a 16th Century Psalter.
The Robinson Papers cover the career of John Robinson, joint but Senior Secretary to the Treasury from 1770 - 1782. Acting also as a parliamentary whip, Robinson wielded great political influence and insight, further aided by the favour of George III.
The pieces of Nevill family plate on show includes work by Paul de Lamerie (1688 - 1751) and David Willaume (1658 - 1740).
The Eridge Clock is a month-going long-case clock circa 1705 by Thomas Tompion.
The Nevill Psalterium Jhesu is an illuminated manuscript dating from the turn of the 16th century. It comprises a Book of Hours (Latin) and the Jesus Psalter and other texts in Middle English.
The Estate Office is a working office rather than an archive and the Nevill family papers are held at one of three County Record Offices: Sussex, Kent and Gwent.
Visitors can park close to the Estate Office and access is generally level with just one or two steps to negotiate. The display is not accessible by wheelchair.
The Estate entrance is opposite the church in Eridge village. Please turn in and over the cattle grid, the drive then passes through fields and over a second cattle grid before reaching the Estate Offices on your right in what was once the stable buildings.
Contact for the day: Julia Foster 07702 302850 or 01892 750766

Monday 11 September 1000-1400
Wednesday 13 September 1000-1400
Thursday 14 September 1000-1400

Pre-booking is required to attend the Estate Office so please email Julia Foster

Booking opens: Tuesday 1 August 2022 0900
Booking closes: Thursday 14 September 2022 0900
A maximum of 4 people each session which lasts one hour.

2. Exits & Entrances
Trinity Theatre, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1JP
A look at the history of theatre in Tunbridge Wells, over the last few centuries. During this years Festival we will be offering different ways to inform, excite, and engage people with the fascinating heritage stories connected to theatres in Tunbridge Wells, some with very interesting former lives!
The journey starts with Sarah Baker's first theatre on Mount Sion, which quickly developed into a hugely successful venture – the Corn Exchange – that saw renowned actors like Edmund Kean tread its boards in the early 19th century. From the Pantiles, we head up town to the indulgent Opera House, which in its lifetime has seen a transformation from music venue to cinema, from bingo hall to a Wetherspoon's pub! Next is the rather stately Assembly Halls which opened in 1939 as part of the Civic Centre complex, and then, as a complete contrast, we head to the common for a look at The Forum… which was formerly a public toilet! Of course, at the town’s heart we cannot forget our own, much-loved Trinity, built by the community 40 years ago – but which was originally a church! You can also find out more about the restored Clocktower which will be open to the public in the coming months.
The exhibition is completely free and will open each day between 10am and 3pm and you can pick up a craft activity pack to make your own mini theatre. We will also be hosting some walking tours and a fascinating talk ‘Entrances and Exits’, linked to our exhibition, by local historian Chris Jones on Thursday 14th September.
Contact for the day: L Redden

Saturday 9 September 1000-1500
Monday 11 September 1000-1500
Tuesday 12 September 1000-1500
Wednesday 13 September 1000-1500
Thursday 14 September 1000-1500 Exits & Entrances talk by Chris Jones at 11am
Friday 15 September 1000-1500
Saturday 16 September 1000-1500

3. Heritage and Harvest Country Fair
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JN
Three days of fantastic family fun with displays, activities, stalls and tastings.
We're back - bigger and better than ever! The whole family will enjoy the Heritage & Harvest Country Fair with falconry displays and have-a-go archery, boutique and artisan food stalls, chainsaw carving, wood-turning, blacksmithing, plus stalls showcasing heritage, countryside and conservation skills.
Please note this event does not include free admission to the Castle.

Friday 8 September 1000-1700
Saturday 9 September 1000-1700
Sunday 10 September 1000-1700

4. St Barnabas Primary School
St. Barnabas C of E Primary School, Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 2EY
Take the opportunity to visit this Victorian Primary School which was opened in June 1889, in what was the working class area of Tunbridge Wells.
The Victorian exterior of the school is largely as it was and inside although altered to provide suitable classrooms for the children, you can still see much of the original elements and physical structure of the building. In some of the classrooms, there will be albums of old school photos, the original Headteacher's log books stretching back to the opening of the school, old school registers and some other donations from ex-pupils. You can explore the school on your own or join a guided tour of the school. On the same day, the school will be having its 'Late Summer Fair' where you will be able to get some tea and cake, win a bottle, and see the current school community enjoying this great school.
As this is a Victorian School access to the upper classrooms is via four flights of stairs only.
Contact for the day: Dave Prodrick 07966 190428

Saturday 16 September 1000-1500 Tours every 30 minutes
Max 6 people per tour/session.

5. The Elevated Decimus Burton Walking Tour
Trinity Theatre, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1JP
Decimus Burton was the young architect who, in the 1820s and 1830s, planned and realised a new 56 acre residential and retail estate at the top of Mount Pleasant in Tunbridge Wells to rival the delights being enjoyed down the hill in the famous Pantiles. This Walking Tour will look at the substantial legacy of his masterplan as well as taking in other sights along the way.
The walk will last approximately 90 minutes, is all level and will start at the Trinity Theatre in Church Road, Tunbridge Wells and finish a five minute walk away.
Contact for the day: David Woosnam 07950 200031

Tours to be held twice a day
Wednesday 13 September 1030 and 1430
Saturday 16 September 1030 and 1430

Booking is essential and to reserve a place go to SignUp.com
Sign Up will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy! You do not need to register an account on Sign Up, and Sign Up does not share your email address with anyone).
Alternatively, call David Woosnam to book on 07950 200031 or email David Woosnam

6. The Writing on the Wall
Tunbridge Wells Town Centre
A self-guided tour of the burgundy plaques and buildings of notable residents of Tunbridge Wells for children, with downloadable activity booklet. Please click below for the downloadable information and activity sheet for children:

Discovering Tunbridge Wells

7. Tunbridge Wells Cemetery
Tunbridge Wells Cemetery Victorian Chapel, Benhall Mill Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 5JJ
The Friends of TW Cemetery will celebrate the creativity of artists, writers, musicians, dancers and singers linked to the cemetery over two days. Join us at 2.30pm each day in the Friends Chapel for an exhibition and refreshments.
Tunbridge Wells Cemetery was opened in 1873 to serve all denominations and is still a working Cemetery and crematorium. Many interesting people have been laid to rest here and the Friends of the Cemetery continue to transcribe and research the memorials. There is a permanent exhibition and presentation of the history of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. There will be a booklet to include a map and self guided walk.

Saturday 9 September 1430-1630
Sunday 10 September 1430-1630

8. Tunbridge Wells Friends (Quaker) Meeting House
Friends Meeting House, 1 Grosvenor Park, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 2BB
Tunbridge Wells Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, purpose-built in 1894, has been extensively refurbished and updated to provide 9 affordable accommodation units managed by West Kent YMCA.
This Friends Meeting House originally provided two floors of worship space for the growing number of local Quakers. A warden’s flat was added later above. Latterly the Meeting House has been too big for our needs, costly to maintain, with poor access and environmental standards. TW Quakers and West Kent YMCA teamed up with Habitat for Humanity GB Homes to form the Stepping Stones Partnership to address the growing problem of homelessness amongst young people in the area and the shortage of affordable private rented accommodation. Habitat for Humanity managed the redevelopment with grants, funding and support from TWBC, Quaker Housing Trust, other Quaker Meetings and individuals. The Meeting House has been given a new lease of life whilst retaining the historic quality of the building within a conservation area. The building provides accessible meeting rooms on two floors at the front for Quakers. The rear of the building, with separate access, contains 9 flats on 3 floors, managed by WKYMCA, providing affordable accommodation for local young people.
You will be able to see displays following the journey of the Stepping Stones project and of current Quaker principles and practice which date back to the 17th century. Ask us more about Quakers and join us for refreshments.
The redevelopment means that the lobby area and downstairs room is small and can only accommodate about 5-10 people, whilst the upstairs Meeting Room can accommodate up to about 30 people. The exhibitions will be throughout the building including in the upstairs Meeting Room (There is a lift as well as stairs to this floor).
We will hold our weekly ‘Meeting for Worship’ every Sunday at 10:30am for about an hour. All are welcome. Contact: tunbridgewellsclerk@gmail.com
Max 10 people per tour/session. About 15 mins There is no dedicated parking space at the Meeting House. Ordinary street parking is limited to one hour. Blue Badge holders can usually park on the yellow line near the top of Grosvenor Park, fairly close to the Meeting House. There are public car parks in the town within 10 minutes walking distance. We are close to local bus links.
Contact for the day: Christopher Clark 07967 235543

Saturday 9 September 1000-1800

9. Tunbridge Wells Walks - Mount Ephraim
Mount Ephraim House, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8BU
Enjoy the views and explore this historic part of Tunbridge Wells which has attracted visitors since the seventeenth century. This is a guided linear walk on a level route.
Learn about Mount Ephraim and its historic buildings including the lost attractions for seventeenth century visitors; former places of worship; historic inns; shops and businesses dating back centuries; locations with pioneering transport associations. Join local historian Fiona Woodfield on a route which passes a former Tunbridge Ware manufactory which welcomed visitors to see the craft in progress back in 1840 - perhaps an early version of Heritage Open Days in and around Tunbridge Wells.
The walk route is along level pavements and is designed to be especially suitable for those wanting a route which avoids the Tunbridge Wells hills The walk takes around an hour and a half to two hours and follows a linear route along Mount Ephraim, beginning outside Mount Ephraim House (at the junction of Bishops Down Road) and ending at the junction with St John's Road. The nearest public car park is in Meadow Road TN1 2EN (a short walk from the finishing point of the walk; around ten minutes uphill from the start point); sometimes on street parking spaces can be found on Mount Ephraim itself or on the streets on the north side.
Meet on the Common outside Mount Ephraim House, at the junction of Mount Ephraim and Bishops Down Road. The walk ends at the junction of Mount Ephraim and St John's Road.
Contact for the day: Fiona Woodfield 07483 884871

Friday 8 September 1030

A maximum of 24 people per tour. Pre-booking is essential so please email Fiona Woodfield

10. Woodbury Park Cemetery - An introduction to a Victorian gem
Woodbury Park Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 9NH
An overview of the cemetery, putting it into context with Victorian mourning traditions, memorial symbolism as well as an introduction to some of those who are buried there. Learn about some notable inventors who lived in and around Tunbridge Wells.
Woodbury Park Cemetery opened in October 1849 when space in the town’s first parish churchyard, Holy Trinity in Church Road, began to run out. Today, the cemetery is Grade II and listed as an early example of a garden cemetery for the local Anglican congregation.
Woodbury Park Cemetery is the final resting place of nearly 6,000 people from all classes and backgrounds of Victorian society; from paupers to priests and servants to shopkeepers.
This walk will be an introduction to the cemetery, Victorian mourning traditions and memorial symbolism. You’ll also learn about some of those who are buried there including Jane Austen’s brother, a notable local landscape painter and a maker of our famous Tunbridge Ware.
The peaceful burial ground is hidden away just off St Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells. If you walk 100 yards or so down Woodbury Park Road, you will find the entrance at the end of a cul de sac to your right.
No parking at the cemetery but there is on road parking in the roads nearby. The cemetery is built on a slope and is unfortunately not suitable for wheelchairs.

Sunday 17 September 1100

Max 10 people. Walk takes approximately 1 hour.

Southborough and High Brooms Events with Opening Times

11.Cyanotype Workshop
Southborough Library, Southborough Civic Centre, 137 London Road, Southborough, Kent, TN4 0NA
Cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic processes, it is camera-less technique that creates beautiful blue and white images that are exposed by the sun’s rays.
Participants will learn about the process and get creative making their own cyanotype prints using a range of objects. This is a family friendly event suitable for primary and secondary age children who must be accompanied by an adult.
Please note this workshop is dependent on the English weather!
Each print takes about 10 minutes of bright sunlight to expose. In the event of cloudy or wet weather, participants can come along learn about the process and how to create and develop the prints. You will then takeaway a small pack of pre-coated paper and some materials to create your own cyanotypes at home!

Saturday 16 September Session 1:1000-1100, Session 2:1100-1200 Please note both sessions are now fully booked

Pre-booking is essential so please email Susan Rogers

A maximum of 10 people per session which lasts one hour.

12. Georgian and Victorian Corn Milling in the Southborough Valley
SHAAS Southborough Archaeology, Mill House Barn, Powder Mill Lane, Southborough, Kent, TN4 9EG
An opportunity to investigate an archaeological site. Powder Mill dig site is rarely open to the public. Originally part of a Norman deer park, this quiet rural field has seen iron and gunpowder manufacturing as well as corn milling.
This Corn Mill site had a 5m waterwheel and operated from the late Georgian era through the Victorians to finally being abandoned in 1923 and demolition in 1938. The current site will allow visitors to experience the past industrial glory of the Southborough valley with its mill, gunpowder works and metal working forges. The site shows old mill walls and working surfaces and our illustrated tours will provide map evidence and a selection of local finds.
The photos illustrate the site excavation, also families participating in previous Open Days, plus some finds including an old horse bridle (almost certainly Victorian). There will be plenty of site finds, regional maps and other information for visitors to review, as well as a guided tour of the site.
Access is along Powder Mill Lane, then a farm track with parking in a field. The site is accessed via a track/roadway suitable for vehicles and the area around the site is grass, though with an uneven surface.
Contact for the day: Anthony Palmer 07766 963400

Sunday 10 September 1100-1500 tours every 30 minutes
Sunday 17 September 1100-1500 tours every 30 minutes

13. Salomons Estate, Southborough
Salomons UK Ltd, David Salomons Estate, Broomhill Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 0TG
Salomons (Broomhill) was the country home of the Salomons family from 1829 to the mid 1930s. Designed by Decimus Burton between 1830 and 1850, and extended by the Salomons family later in the century, it sits on 36 acres of picturesque grounds.
When Vera Salomons donated the family estate to Kent County Council in 1937, she specified that two rooms be kept apart as a permanent memorial to her brother, who was killed at Gallipoli; her father, a noted amateur scientist and technologist; and her great uncle, a leader in the struggle for Jewish civil rights. (All three were named David Salomons.) These rooms form the 'Salomons Museum' which has remained open to the public through subsequent changes of ownership.
On Sunday 17th September, the museum will be presenting a talk looking back at the three generations; including a look at other parts of the house not usually open to the public (provided these have not been booked for other uses - the house now operates as an events and conference venue).

Sunday 17 September Talk/tour at 1430.

Booking is essential. Please contact: Reception - 01892 515152 between
Monday 1 August 2023 and Wednesday 31 August 2023
A maximum of 20 people per tour/session. Talk/tour takes just over an hour.

The museum is also open to the public, as usual, every day from 0900 until 1700, but please be aware that other events at Salomons may restrict access. It would be considerate, for example, not to visit on 8th, 9th or 10th September to avoid disrupting weddings which are taking place on those days.

14. Southborough Heritage Walk: Southborough Common and its historic buildings
St Peters's Church, Church Road, Southborough, Kent, TN4 0RX
An opportunity to discover the history of the Southborough Common conservation area, with its great variety of buildings dating back to the fifteen century. The Southborough Society warmly welcomes everyone to this guided walk.
It is the rich variety of buildings which gives such charm to Southborough's conservation area: homes of all sorts and sizes from the tiniest cottage to substantial mansions; former workplaces where vanished crafts were once practised; church and graveyard; former schools; historic inn; shops; vestiges of the manorial estate; former farms, and more. The Southborough Society - the town's civic and historical society - invites everyone to join local historian Fiona Woodfield for a fascinating walk. Learn about the buildings, the people who lived in them from the fifteenth century to the present day and the historic Common which dates back a millennium. The circular walk, lasting about two hours, will have much to interest longstanding residents, visitors and newcomers to the town, focussing on the buildings we see today and also the wider history of the area round the ancient Common.
The walk begins at St Peter's Church, takes in the part of the conservation area adjoining the Common, heading down to Holden Pond before returning to the churchyard. The walk duration is around two hours.
Everyone is very welcome. Part of the planned route includes a grassy slope across the Common as well as uneven surfaces within the churchyard. A short hard surface diversion around the Common is available for those who are mobility impaired and pushchair/wheelchair users.
The church and Southborough's cricket ground are on the west side of the Common opposite the Hand and Sceptre Inn. There is a parking layby alongside the cricket ground and more parking spaces at the far end of the little lane which runs alongside the church.
Contact for the day: Fiona Woodfield 07483 884871

Saturday 9 September 1430 Please note the Saturday walk is now fully booked
Sunday 17 September 1430 Please note the Sunday walk is now fully booked

A maximum of 24 people per tour. Pre-booking is essential so please email Fiona Woodfield

Capel Events with Opening Times

15. St Thomas à Becket Church Art and Craft Show
St Thomas à Becket Church, Church Lane, Capel, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6SX
An art and craft show held over two weekends inside this medieval church with wall paintings. In the well cared for churchyard you can also find an ancient yew tree where Thomas a Becket preached under.
All the art and craft work is for sale and made by local people. Also on display will be the church burial records dating back to the 1660's.
Please note that there are no toilets on site or near by.

Saturday 9 September 1000-1600
Sunday 10 September 1000-1600
Saturday 16 September 1000-1600
Sunday 17 September 1000-1600

Paddock Wood Events with Opening Times

16. Hoppers
Hoppers, Five Oak Green Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6RL
Hoppers was refurbished in 2021 following a flood in 2020. Hidden features (fireplaces, oak beams and original pub cladding) have been discovered and are now uncovered and restored.
Hoppers offers self catering accommodation largely for groups of Londoners to experience a more rural lifestyle. However, in the peak of the Hop picking era this historic building offered refuge to sick hop pickers in the form of a Hoppers' Hospital. The open days offer an opportunity for visitors to experience the unique historic character of the building and also learn about what life was like through pictures and historic records.
Refreshments will be available for a donation and people can tour the building, using our self-guided tour sheets.
Contact for the day: Susannah Strawson 07851 425661

Sunday 10 September 1000-1600
Tuesday 12 September 1600-2000 - opportunity for local historical groups to visit
Wednesday 13 September 1200-1600 - our regular Village Lunch will be running - any visitors can come and join us - but please book in
Saturday 16 September 1000-1400

No booking required but a maximum of 6 people per tour/session which last 30 minutes to 1 hour

17. Paddock Wood Masonic Hall
Masonic Hall, 57 Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6DJ
Paddock Wood Masonic Hall will open its doors to the public to come and view the building and its hundred years of history. Find out what really goes on and what local charities are supported.
Guided tours of the building will be available throughout the day. All areas will be open and someone will be around to answer any questions. This will also include child friendly activities quiz an a few extras. We will also have some veteran motorbikes on display thanks to a local member.
Tours last 20 minutes and tea, coffee and soft drinks will be available from the bar.
Contact for the day: Guy JP Coggles 07932 139039

Friday 8 September 1000-1600

18. So You Think You Know Paddock Wood? The Library welcomes you to a Photograph Quiz
Kent County Council, Paddock Wood Library, 9 Commercial Road, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6EN
Find a range of pictures of old Paddock Wood and answer the questions to find out how much you really do know and what the local Library offers.
Come and experience a taste of the heritage of Paddock Wood. At the heart of the community. Paddock Wood Library manages a range of activities and events as part of a very busy schedule. To celebrate Heritage Open Days 2023 they will host an exciting event focused on learning about history of the area through images. There will be a Treasure Hunt and Quiz open to everyone.
Books on the subject may be loaned or used as reference in the library as appropriate.
Contact for the day: Susan Rogers 03000 417950

Friday 8 September 1000-1300 1400-1700
Saturday 9 September 1000-1400
Tuesday 12 September 1000-1300 1400-1700
Wednesday 13 September 1000-1300
Thursday 14 September 1300-1700
Friday 15 September 1000-1300 1400-1700
Saturday 16 September 1000-1400

19. Where Our Memories Meet
The Wesley Centre, Commercial Road, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6DS
A nostalgic exhibition of pictures to show where shops once were, and in some cases still are. There will also be displays of merged images by Paddock Wood U3A and Heritage Paddock Wood (2018) and we hope visitors will share their memories.
The Wesley Centre was built in 1888. As the name implies it was originally used as a chapel. It is now the only remaining Victorian building for public use in Paddock Wood. The building contains a war memorial for local men who died during World War One as well as a plaque commemorating those who enabled it to be designated for community use. Memorial stones are in set its outside walls.
Lest We Forget: An exhibition through the lens of Paddock Wood U3A. Both Digital Photography and the Local History Groups provided beautiful images that will show the shops that once thrived in the area, and some that still do. There will be opportunity to share your memories.
The Wesley Centre is situated in a central position on Commercial Road at the centre of the town. Access is also possible from a gate in Old Kent Road. Parking is available in the Town Centre car parks which are nearby. There are also some spaces on the road. There is a ramp for wheelchairs.
Light refreshments may be available.
Heritage Paddock Wood is on Facebook. It aims to promote and preserve the area of Paddock Wood as a cultural arts and heritage destination to enrich peoples lives and support the local economy. We hope you will support us.
Contact for the day: Sarah Hamilton 01892 835883

Saturday 16 September 1000-1600
Sunday 17 September 1000-1600

You can contact us at twellsheritage@gmail.com

Thank you for visiting Tunbridge Wells Heritage Open Days and we hope you managed attend one of our many events.

This website is copyright The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society 2023 - Registered Charity No. 276545