The pretty colonnaded walkway known as the Pantiles has become probably the most well known view of Royal Tunbridge Wells. Once the playground of the gentry and royalty, the Pantiles remains a pleasant place to browse, shop, eat and drink and stroll.
The Pantiles and Tunbridge Wells itself, owe their beginnings to the discovery of the Chalybeate Spring in the early 17th century and the popularity of the spa water amongst the gentry and royalty of Georgian England. As Tunbridge Wells grew in popularity as a spa resort, so did the area surrounding the Spring - eventually leading to the building of the colonnaded walkway in the 18th century, later known as The Pantiles.
In its heyday in Georgian times, the 'Walks' as they were then known, were the place to see and be seen for visitors to Tunbridge Wells. A strict protocol was adhered to - gentry on the 'Upper Walks', the colonnade, and everyone else on the 'Lower Walks'. Richard Beau Nash, a dandy of the day made it his business to ensure that this protocol was adhered to by acting as a kind of Master of Ceremonies during 'the season' in Tunbridge Wells and in the town's rival, Bath. Things are much more relaxed nowadays and the Pantiles is now a very attractive and stylish part of Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Much of the colonnade has been renewed since its beginnings in the 17th century but most of the surrounding buildings date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Pantiles is now home to a fascinating variety of small specialist shops, antique shops and open-air cafés, restaurants and bars.
An entertaining and varied programme of regular events, including a fortnightly Farmers' Market, is held on the Pantiles.
The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells is also where visitors will find the Tourist Information Centre in the Old Fish Market building.
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