Which area of Tunbridge Wells might suit you best?
I recall coming to Tunbridge Wells for the first time on my personal property hunt and being advised by one Estate Agent that St Johns would be the perfect place for us. Not knowing the town and not having been given any real advice on the different areas, it seemed a long way out of the centre and frankly, not as appealing as living in the fashionable ‘Village’. 2 years later, a lot of money spent on rent and having lived in two different parts of the town, we bought in St Johns and I feel well qualified to write this blog!
The town’s most prestigious roads are just off the common to the south-east of the town and are Hungershall Park and Nevill Park. The properties feel like country residences but are actually a very short, and pretty, walk across the common to the centre of town. The houses tend to be very large so many are split into apartments. The views across fields from one ‘Park’ road to another are stunning.
view of Nevill Park from Hungershall Park
‘The Village’ is probably the most sought-after area for young professionals. The house styles are varied but all tend to have lots of period character. The properties are set at angles on roads that climb up and down the streets off the High Street with fabulous names like Frog Lane and Little Mount Sion. The area centres around Grove park which is a perfect park for families with young children (and dogs). Lots of the houses available to buy around the Claremont Road area, by the park, are of the smaller 3 bed size with courtyard gardens so tend not to be so convenient once the children grow beyond primary school age. However, they are incredibly desirable for families as Claremont Primary is rated outstanding and notoriously hard to get into (see our schools blog from September 2018). When it’s time to upgrade to a bigger house, the detached houses on Frant Road, Madeira Park or the tall Victorian houses off Grove Hill Road appeal.
Local resident Georgina Blizzard says, of life in this area, ‘I live on Madeira Park, in what some people call the 'Village' in Tunbridge Wells. It's super quiet and very family-filled as the Grove Park and the Common are nearby and it's in the midst of lots of great schools. I love the fact you can walk to the train station (5 mins) which is great for work but also you're only minutes from the lovely shops and restaurants on the Pantiles and the High Street.
Mount Pleasant and Calverley Road is a cluster of streets off Prospect Road which are reminiscent of the Village, being colourful period properties with character. Many of these houses offer living on 3 floors and have small gardens. Calverley park itself contains grand sandstone Regency villas off a private road that runs along the edge of parkland worthy of being described as a miniature Richmond Park. There are also stunning Regency houses at the top of the park in an arc reminiscent of Bath’s famous crescents in the 1830’s by Decimus Burton. Parking is difficult in this part of town particularly if you have more than one car or regular visitors.
(do not under any circumstances park here in front of the Calverley Crescent entrance! Or here....)
Hawkenbury lies to the south-east of the town. It has a mixture of family housing which is varied in size and character, and comes with parking and gardens, well suited to growing families. The properties on Forest Road and Farmcombe Road seem to be in a perpetual state of building work as they lend themselves to extension and improvement. Hawkenbury has it’s own playing fields with tennis courts and football pitches. It is a short walk to Dunorlan Park which is in part left to field, so perfect for dog-walkers, and in part more manicured with a boating lake. Claire W who lives in Hawkenbury told us ‘I live in the south western corner and I love the fact that if I turn right and walk down the hill, I have the social scene on the Pantiles and High Street; if I turn left I have never ending open Countryside!’
Camden Road is more bohemian in character than the rest of Tunbridge Wells. There is a Brighton feel to the people, businesses and properties. It’s very popular as it is convenient for shops at the top end of town being only a short walk from Royal Victoria Place. There are smaller 2/3 bed Victorian terraced houses suited to those starting on the property ladder alongside period family homes on roads such as St James Road/Park, Stone Street and Beulah Road. The local independent shops are a draw with Camden Road currently having an excellent local butcher, greengrocer, deli and bakery. It is within walking distance of all state secondary schools in town so works for families with older children. Grosvenor and Hilbert Park on the border of this area has recently been renovated and has the support of an active group of park ‘friends’ who organise events in the park such as storytelling and astronomy nights, which bring the community together.
Mount Ephraim rolls downhill from the upper boundary of the common, to the west of the town. Some of the town’s most stunning homes are located along these roads, with Edwardian houses on 3 floors, big enough for any extended family. Intriguingly there is a hidden woodland behind Royal Chase and Bishopsdown Park Road, and a private park behind Molyneux Park Road/Court Road; all of which can only be accessed by local residents who are granted keys. Mount Ephraim has lots of walks on the doorstep; through Hurst woods or across the golf course to Toad Rock in Rusthall or straight out on the common to climb on the sandstone rocks. It does not have any convenient local shops but it is a reasonably manageable walk to get to Royal Victoria Place or a short drive to the convenience stores in St John’s. One of it’s primary draws is proximity to the good state secondary schools so you see lots of children in TWGS, TWGSB, Skinners and St Gregory’s uniforms walking to school from this part of town.
St Johns is the hub for most of the schools in the town which makes it desirable to families with children but also horribly congested at school drop-off and pick-up. Best to live in the area so your child has the benefit of being able to walk to school! There are desirable Victorian houses on streets off St John’s Road e.g. Culverden Park Road, Thomas Street, William Street, East Cliff Road, and good sized, well-built 1930’s houses on New England Road, Wilman Road and Newlands Road. The area has several pubs and cafes, including a Costa, Tesco and Sainsbury small stores as well as M&S and Waitrose petrol stations. Small independent shops pop up and disappear on a regular basis but the Basil wholefood café has, quite rightly, endured, as has the Best Health Food store plus it has two popular pubs in St Johns Yard and The Trading Post. St Johns Park is great for small children as it has an enclosed play area but also has a skate park and leads out to woodland walks which connect it up with Mount Ephraim and Speldhurst. On the other boundary of the area, the Ridgeway is popular with dog-walkers, has far-reaching views out to the hills beyond Tonbridge and has football pitches as well as allotments. It is roughly a 20 minute walk to Royal Victoria Place and half an hour to the far end of the Pantiles but as it is on the main road from the motorway to town, there are lots of buses too. High Brooms train station is a reasonable walk from St Johns making commuting an easy option for St Johns residents. F.Braham, long-term local resident said ‘Lots of young families choose St Johns, attracted no doubt by the proximity of the excellent grammar schools. Hopwood gardens and Stephens road particularly have active and vibrant local communities, with their own Facebook pages. The estate agents frequently call Chestnut avenue a pleasant tree lined avenue and it is!’
Southborough at the north of the town is adversely affected by the drive into Tunbridge Wells being both congested and not giving the best impression of the area. Off that busy A26 crawl, is a popular area with lots of lovely family homes; less expensive than being in Tunbridge Wells itself but with easy access to the facilities of the town or indeed to Tonbridge. Southborough common is picturesque with a cricket field and a densely wooded area, great for walks, den making and tree-climbing. The duck pond is pretty and a path leads up to the attractive cluster of properties at ‘Modest Corner’. Southborough has a park with outdoor gym equipment and there are large houses off Pennington Road which runs beside it. The area has two good pubs in the Hand & Sceptre and The Imperial, a reputable boutique restaurant ‘The Twenty Six’ and it is home to Temper Temper who run chocolate-making workshops … so now tell me you don’t love Southborough! Our very own property adviser Nathalie Field gives us her take on life in Southborough;
‘Southborough is a versatile place to live. We love being within equal distance of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells because the trains are often quicker from Tonbridge (plus it has Aldi and Waitrose!). Southborough itself is being re-developed and we look forward to seeing what difference the Southborough Hub makes to the area. We love a family walk on the common on Sundays.’
If you need any help choosing the right area for you or if you wish to discuss the properties we have to rent and buy in each part of the town, please pop into the office at 15-17 Vale Road, Tunbridge Wells or call Belvoir Tunbridge Wells on 01892 615333.