Day to Day => Towns & Villages => Local Government => Topic started by: peterchall on April 03, 2012, 12:07:54

Title: Royal Status
Post by: peterchall on April 03, 2012, 12:07:54
Another distinction that may be given to a town is the prefix ‘Royal’, usually granted by the Monarch because of some personal relationship.

The only example in Kent is Tunbridge Wells, with an association going back to 1606 when Lord North, a courtier of James I, discovered a chalybeate spring there while staying at Eridge for the benefit of his health; he drank some of the water and his health improved. As a result, visits from the ‘upper-classes’ became popular and two houses were built next to the spring in 1636 – one for men and one for women. Lesser mortals either camped out or lodged at Southborough (actually the ‘South Borough’ of what was then Tunbridge). Then a building boom began and the Pantiles were completed in the 1680’s.

In the 1750’s sea-bathing became the fashion and the spa began to lose trade, but by then TW had become established as a town for the well-off and was popular for Royalty to visit. Because of its association with wealth there was a well kept toll-road access and there were 9 return coach services to London daily. When the railway reached it in 1845 it probably became one  of the original towns of the ‘stockbroker belt’. It was awarded Borough status in 1899, and by decree of Edward VII became the ‘Royal Borough of Tunbridge Wells’ in 1909 (although by then the town of ‘Tunbridge', from where the name derived, had become ‘Tonbridge’).

Greenwich was in Kent until 1899, when it was taken over by the newly created London County Council, so I hope qualifies for mention here. It has been the site of a Royal Palace since the 15th century and is the site of the Prime Meridian from which the World’s time is measured. As part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee  celebrations it was made the ‘Royal Borough of Greenwich’ on 3rd February 2012.

But again the question of “what’s in it for us?” arises because it is specifically stated that the title ‘Royal…..’ confers no special privileges.
Title: Re: Royal Status
Post by: peterchall on June 28, 2014, 15:11:24
Here is more on the history of the spring mentioned in the previous post, taken from yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

The spring which is part of the name of the town is drying up and the historically clad ‘dippers’ who provide visitors with cups of the well water on two days a week will have nothing to dispense. There is no known reason for this, and the article asks if the Naiads are offended!

Apparently those who have tasted the spa waters don’t usually ask for a second glass – only those convinced of their health giving properties would relish their sulphurous aroma, metallic taste and orange hue. Even the Tunbridge Wells Council PR Officer admits to them being an ‘acquired taste’.

Lord Dudley (presumably the Lord North of the previous post), weak from a life of dissipation, had first noticed a scum on a woodland pool as he rode back to London from a rest cure at Eridge Castle in 1606. In 1630 Queen Henrietta Maria spent six weeks taking the waters, encamped in a tent, to recover from the birth of Charles II.

Jasper Sprange, an early champion of the wells, did not promise any immediate benefit from the waters. They were, he wrote, “Not intended to promote any of the sensible evacuations. They are to be received into the habit, to correct impurities in the blood and animal juices; to remove glandular obstructions; to promote insensible perspirations; to brace up relaxed fibres and to strengthen weak nerves”.

As noted in the previous post, the spa started the sequence of events that eventually led to the granting of ‘Royal’ status to the borough.
Title: Re: Royal Status
Post by: helcion on June 28, 2014, 17:31:29

Report on local TV news on Friday evening that the spring has now dried up completely.