“Good day to you sir, and to you my lady, allow me to serve you from our world renowned healing waters”.
I have the best job at the Wells, the Wells near Tunbridge that is, I am the Dipper.
Since the very first time in 1606 when a gentleman, Dudley Lord North, came upon our special spring, there has been a Dipper to serve water to the gentry. Mrs Humphries was the original and she lived to be over 100, a fine old age.
A spring of clear, clean, cold natural mineral water bubbling up in the woods was what our hero Lord North found and as they say the rest is history.
From a wooded glade to a high society watering hole with enough distractions and pastimes for even the most regal tastes, the walks of Tunbridge Wells, also known as the Pantiles, are indeed the jewel of the Weald.
I am not one to gossip as you know, but the antics of some of those gentlemen are not to be repeated, what happens in Tunbridge Wells stays in Tunbridge Wells!
Although we owe our undoubted success as a top notch holiday resort for the rich and famous to the Merry Monarch Charles II and his heirs, it was Queen Victoria, god bless her, who ensured our place in history.
Her son, Edward VII gave us the Royal title because his mother had been so fond of our fair town.
“So sir, madam, what do you make of our Chalybeate water? The doctors say it will cure all your ills, and it certainly has as much iron as a patent iron tonic.
Some say it tastes of money, some that it tastes like blood, but you can definitely taste the iron.
It is much better to drink than the hot sulphurous waters in Bath and will set you up for your day of parties and balls.
Excuse me now, I must wash up my ladle and close the Spring for today.
Goodnight sir and madam, we will see you tomorrow bright and early. You will be pleased to know that the water is reputed to be a cure for an excess of wine and good food! Enjoy your evening”.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Chalybeate Spring and the Pantiles join a guided walking tour round Royal Tunbridge Wells. Pop along to the Tourist Information Centre in the Pantiles, any Thursday or Saturday at 10.30am to join the guide. For further details, see our Tours and Sightseeing page.
Photography by David Hodgkinson