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Top places to live in Kent Tunbridge Wells

It might not be as trendy as some of its east Kent cousins, but long-popular Royal Tunbridge Wells is a sure bet for families seeking homes with bigger gardens, plenty of great outdoors and the added attraction of exceptional schooling for free in the area’s many prestigious grammar schools. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.

A picture of The Pantiles within spa town Royal Tunbridge Wells
Copyright: TWBC. Photo credit: Chris Parker

WHY? 

Forget those letter-writing retired colonels: this spa town is all about attracting well-to-do families seeking a best-of-both-worlds commuter lifestyle. With yoga studios and art galleries galore but being only moments from the Garden of England’s apple-orchards, this town has it all.

EAT

In Tunbridge Wells you’ll be spoilt for culinary choice, with Sankey’s for fish, Sucheera for Thai or Kiko Sushi & Yakitori for Japanese being just some of the good eateries to discover. The Ivy Royal Tunbridge Wells sits opposite the Anthropologie boutique – how handy is that?!

In and around the town you’ll find lots of great gastro pubs but some stand-out dining destinations, include The Kentish Hare in Bidborough, The Beacon in Rusthall and Salomons Estate.

SHOP

Well firstly, there’s the brand new food hall Macknade At Hoopers bringing this much-loved and well-established foodie gem to Tunbridge Wells. Stock up on all the wonderful local produce as well as your fave delights from around the world.

For most of your high street favourites you’ll want to head to the Royal Victoria Shopping Centre but for independents this town is particularly well-known for its popular and pretty Georgian colonnade of shops called The Pantiles, where you’ll find boutiques, galleries, cafés and even a luxury pet shop.

Just up the road you’ll find our fave local fashion boutique Kitch Clothing and designer lighting gallery, lumière – Lumiere Du Jour.

There’s the original and buzzy little Trinity Theatre and the Assembly Hall Theatre (which has planning to undergo a £90 million make-over project). So Culture Vultures are well catered for.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

On the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells you’ll find Dunorlan Park, with its boating lake, ducks and café. Or 2 miles to the north there’s Penshurst Place & Gardens (the ancestral home of Anne Boleyn) a family-friendly stately home open to the public. For the active amongst us there’s an outdoor climbing school at the rugged Harrison Rocks in nearby Groombridge or Kingdom cycling club in Penshurst. 

A short drive will take you to family-friendly Bedgebury Forest in one direction or Ashdown Forest, in the other. Great for walking, letting the kids run off steam and known the world over as the ‘home’ of Winnie The Pooh.

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE

Average house price: £492,383 – good local estate agents include Jackson-Stops, Green Lizard and Maddisons Residential Ltd.

Also Tunbridge Wells boasts a brand new development Hollyfields by Berkeley, a distinctive collection of 3, 4 and 5 bedroom family homes just over a mile from the town centre – and with the train station within walking distance!

Fiona Penny Bespoke Home Finders is a property finding service that can help you find your dream property in Kent and East Sussex.

HOT PROPERTY

SCHOOLS

For prep schools there’s Holmewood House is a co-educational, non-selective school for boys and girls aged 3-13 years, of just under 500 pupils, situated in 30 acres of glorious grounds and impressive facilities. Rose Hill School is also in the centre of Tunny Wells (read the Muddy review here) and offers Y7 & Y8 Awards providing strong financial incentives to pupils. Or for another excellent option in an exceptional setting there’s Somerhill School (read the Muddy review here) close by towards Tonbridge.

For primaries there’s Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ St Peter’s CoE Primary School recently relocated to the new Hollyfields site or Claremont Primary School which is also Ofsted rated Outstanding and very popular with local families, followed by St James’ Primary School.

Take advantage of the boys and girls grammar schools in Tunbridge Wells and nearby Tonbridge. Alongside these there’s all-ability, The Skinners Kent Academy (rated Outstanding, non-fee paying independent education in stunning £21.4 million facilities), plus excellent Secondary faith state schools, such as Bennett Memorial Diocesan School or St Gregory’s Catholic School – both rated Outstanding.

For independent Secondary education, you have Tonbridge School for boys. Kent College School in Pembury an-all girls Senior School (taking girls from 11 – 18 years old read the Muddy review of the Senior School here) and a Prep (for children between 3-11 years) that now has boys joining in the Nurser (read the Muddy review here).

BEST KEPT SECRET

Davina McCall and Dame Kelly Holmes both live in the area. Spot them out and about exercising or shopping – they like to support local. 

COMMUTE

High-speed, non-stopping trains to London Cannon Street takes 51mins and London Bridge (also stopping off at Waterloo East and Charing Cross) takes 44 mins.

View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live.

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