Parish Church of King Charles the Martyr

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May, 2016

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Chalybeate springs were discovered in “Tunbridge Wells”: in 1606 and wealthy visitors soon arrived to take the waters. The church was one of the first buildings and built by private subscription.

From the outside it is a rather unexceptional brick building with a small white bell tower, tucked away in a corner at the end of the Pantiles. It is quite easy to overlook.

The original building dates from 1676 and was a small rectangular building designed to be used as a chapel and also assembly room or even a shelter in bad weather. As numbers of visitors grew, so did the congregation and the church was extended twice and galleries were added. This explains the different patterns in the splendid plaster ceiling. The final alterations were done in 1882, just before the church became part of the Church of England, with the addition of a chancel at the east end, in what had been the school room. The traditional three decker pulpit was moved from the centre of the church to its present position.

Inside it is a very attractive church with two large pillars with carved capitals and carved wooden bases marking the junction of the 1690 extension. More pillars with carved capitals support the chancel arch.

The plaster ceiling is the work of John Weatherall who worked for Sir Christopher Wren.

The galleries on the north and south side of the church were originally reached by outside stairs. They were reserved for servants and tradespeople, effectively separating the classes inside the church as well as out.

At this time, gentleman would sit in the benches in the centre of the nave, with the ladies sitting in the side aisles.

The chancel is small compared to the rest of the church. The boards with the Creed and Our father came from the demolished Wren Church of All Hallows in the City of London. The lovely stained glass east window dates from 1901 and is entitled Easter Morning.

This is a very attractive church with a splendid ceiling. The inside is a lot more interesting than the impression given by he outside. The church is open daily between 11-3. There is no parking by the church. The post code is TN1 1YX and the grid reference is TQ 582388.

There is more information and pictures “here.”:


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