A lovely little haven one mile west of the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Tunbridge Wells Common, Rusthall is hidden among the trees and surrounded by rocky sandstone outcrops complete with some lively village shops.
A village with two centres, one developed around Toad Rock in the 1800s, the Victorian era, as a summer holiday resort. The other is Lower Green the oldest part of the hamlet dating from around the 8th century.
“There was indeed an excellent cold bath near Rust-Hall Common”
…enthused Paul Amsinck Esq in his book ‘Tunbridge Wells and its Neighbourhood’ published in 1810. The Amsinck family were illustrious merchants with worldwide business connections so this is praise indeed.
The name of the village almost certainly derives from the naturally occurring rusty coloured well waters.
Cold water baths were built from the early 1700s to make the most of the ‘rusty, curative’ waters and for entertainment purposes before the Chalybeate Spring became popular.
Stretch your legs and explore
Now only the foundations of the bath house are apparent in Happy Valley below the Hundred Steps in the gardens of the Beacon Hotel on Tea Garden Lane just outside Rusthall.
Fortunately being abandoned has meant the wildlife has thrived and now you can see important species like bee flies and hoverflies as well as beautiful wild flowers.
Back in the village, little historic cottages on the old London to Brighton coaching road can be admired from the pavement opposite the Red Lion pub. This public house was first licensed in 1415!
The grade II listed church of St Paul’s, nearby in Denny Bottom was built in 1849. It is open to all visitors and a fine example of Victorian ecclesiastical architecture.
A “little known treasure”
Rusthall Common is a glorious place to explore and ramble too.
Between Rusthall and Speldhurst lie Shadwell Woods and Hurst Woods – known locally as “one of the prettiest bluebell woods around” (Rusthall History website).
The café is a homely stop off for good, reasonably priced British food – sandwiches and breakfasts are most popular.
This is an active community with great spirit who organise the increasingly popular annual Rusthall Bonfire Procession each October and the successful summer fete every July.
Check the Events page and What’s On listings for the details.
Nearby is the Tunbridge Wells Golf Club and there are frequent bus services to and from Royal Tunbridge Wells via bus number 281.
You can enjoy town and country at its best by staying in this pretty little area; search for your accommodation now!
With thanks to the local Rusthall History group.
For more detail on the Common and the Rocks see the Commons Conservators website.