Dipper at The Chalybeate Spring, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Dipper at The Chalybeate Spring, Royal Tunbridge Wells

by Chris Parker

The Chalybeate Spring

Without the Chalybeate Spring, Royal Tunbridge Wells would not exist.  The natural Spring was discovered by a well-travelled English nobleman, a visitor on his way back up to the capital of England.

For more than 400 years visitors from afar have revelled in the accessibility and beauty of the area and stayed in the Tunbridge Wells region.

Since 1606, in fact tourists have come to see and be seen in fashionable Tunbridge Wells (it was not Royal until over 300 years later), but above all to 'take the waters'.

The word chalybeate (pronounced ka-lee-bee-at) means iron-rich, and the iron taste is evident in the water.  It dyes everything orange too, notice the staining round the walls of the bowls at the Spring.

At the height of its popularity in the eighteenth century, the Spring water was reputed to cure all sorts of ills from infertility and hangovers to obesity and 'a moist brain'.

History of the Spring

The Chalybeate Spring was a fortuitous find by the young nobleman, Dudley Lord North - 3rd Baron North, who noticed the reddish brown waters of the Spring foaming slightly from the ground.

Lord North had spent several days at the Abergavenny Estate at nearby Eridge recuperating and was returning on horseback to London.

Feeling a bit the worse for wear from heavy drinking and merrymaking, Lord North drank the water to quench his thirst.

Feeling much rejuvenated from drinking the cool iron-rich spring water, he declared it to be health-giving to all his friends and acquaintances.

The news of the Spring and its exceptional properties circulated and noble visitors from London and elsewhere flocked to the resulting hamlet springing up alongside the natural spa.

Since it wasn’t far from Tonbridge (originally spelled Tunbridge), already a town, it later became known as Tunbridge Wells.

The Wells

In the eighteenth century, the Chalybeate Spring became a vital daily custom for any honourable lady or gentleman visiting 'The Wells'.

Each day began with a tumbler of the spring water, followed by a “promenade” on The Walks, now known as The Pantiles, or a sojourn to the coffee house to hear the most up-to-date gossip, then off to church at the nearby Chapel of Ease, King Charles the Martyr.

After luncheon, time was whiled away with more “promenading”, wagering or a friendly game of bowls on one of the nearby greens. The evening finished with further betting, dancing, a musical soiree or ostentatious ball.

Drinking the Natural Spring Water

The Chalybeate spring water was served by someone called a 'Dipper' for a small fee - not for the water, which has always been designated as belonging to the people, but for being served the medicinal solution in a genteel fashion.

This tradition carries on today, as in the summer it is still possible to sample the cool Chalybeate Spring water served by a costumed dipper.

The Chalybeate Spring is situated in The Pantiles and, provided the water is flowing, is open from Easter to September, 10.00am to 3.00pm, Wednesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. Please check before making a special trip with the Tourist Information Centre.

You can read more about the Day in the Life of The Dipper.

After taking the water, you too can adjourn to a local café or inn and partake of further refreshment then perhaps some shopping in the delightfully historic alleyways of The Pantiles.

Number of items:

Number of items: 142

, currently showing 1 to 20.

  1. Add One Warwick Park to your Itinerary

    One Warwick Park

    4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Luxurious hotel near the Pantiles.

    Price

    Guide Price £75.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  2. Add Original Cottages to your Itinerary

    Original Cottages

    Quality Assured Agency Visit England

    Cranbrook

    Gorgeous cottages in glorious locations.

    Price

    Guide Price from £204.00 to £1,635.00 Per unit per week
  3. Add Honnington Gardens Bed and Breakfast to your Itinerary

    Honnington Gardens Bed and Breakfast

    Awaiting Grading Awaiting Grading

    Southborough

    A beautifully furnished Kentish Oast House in a peaceful rural location which visitors love because it is secluded but close to all amenities.

    Price

    Guide Price from £130.00 to £140.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  4. Add Brick House to your Itinerary

    Brick House

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars Bed & Breakfast

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Elegant Edwardian house in the centre of town in a Conservation Area.


    Price

    Guide Price from £70.00 to £95.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  5. Add Penshurst Place and Gardens to your Itinerary

    Penshurst Place and Gardens

    Type

    Historic House / Palace

    Penshurst

    Set in the beautiful Weald of Kent, Penshurst Place & Gardens and the surrounding estate have stood on the banks of the river Medway since the 14th century, when the awe-inspiring medieval Baron’s Hall was built as a country retreat for the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John De Pulteney.

  6. Add Spa Valley Railway to your Itinerary

    Spa Valley Railway

    Type

    Steam Railway

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Spa Valley Railway takes you on a picturesque railway journey through through the beautiful Wealden countryside from Tunbridge Wells to High Rocks, Groombridge and Eridge

  7. Add Hotel du Vin & Bistro to your Itinerary

    Hotel du Vin & Bistro

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Lovingly converted from a Grade II - listed mansion, Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells is one of this spa town's architectural landmarks.

  8. Add Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel to your Itinerary

    Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel

    4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Set in the heart of Kent, Mercure Tunbridge Wells Hotel provides a stunning location for your event or getaway. The hotel is well located, with easy access and is about three miles from the famous Kent town of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

    Price

    Guide Price £89.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  9. Add Flying Horse Cottage to your Itinerary

    Flying Horse Cottage

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars Self Catering

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    A rural retreat with superb views perched on a ridge in an area of outstanding natural beauty yet less than two miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells.

    Price

    Guide Price from £690.00 to £950.00 Per unit per week
  10. Add Maytham Cottages Bed and Breakfast to your Itinerary

    Maytham Cottages Bed and Breakfast

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars Guest Accommodation

    Cranbrook

    A pretty Grade II Lutyens cottage situated in the peaceful hamlet of Rolvenden Layne. Ideal for numerous National Trust sites, gardens, vineyards, coast.

    Price

    Guide Price from £55.00 Per person (breakfast included) to £90.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  11. Add Russell Hotel to your Itinerary

    Russell Hotel

    2 AA Stars 2 AA Stars 2 AA Stars Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Located in the heart of the town centre, this elegant Victorian hotel overlooks the scenic Tunbridge Wells common.

    Price

    Guide Price from £60.00 to £125.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  12. Add Hononton Cottage Bed and Breakfast to your Itinerary

    TripAdvisor Traveller Rating

    TripAdvisor Traveller Rating - from 100 review(s)from 100 review(s)

    Hononton Cottage Bed and Breakfast

    5 Visit England Stars 5 Visit England Stars 5 Visit England Stars 5 Visit England Stars 5 Visit England Stars 5 Visit England Stars Bed & Breakfast

    Brenchley

    Hononton Cottage is a 16th Century Grade Two listed farmhouse typical of the Kentish Weald, tile hung with a wealth of exposed oak beams throughout

    Price

    Guide Price from £80.00 to £120.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  13. Add Hazelwood House to your Itinerary

    Hazelwood House

    Awaiting Grading Awaiting Grading

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Family home situated in a quiet location in a private road within walking distance of town centre.

    Price

    Guide Price from £65.00 to £85.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  14. Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk

    Type

    Waymarked Trail

    Tunbridge Wells

    The Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk is a 27.5 mile (44.3km) route that explores the wide variety of fertile and beautiful countryside around Royal Tunbridge Wells, a town within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the borders of Kent and East Sussex.

  15. Add Applebloom Bed & Breakfast to your Itinerary

    Applebloom Bed & Breakfast

    4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars

    Hawkhurst

    Applebloom Bed and Breakfast is a quintessential Kentish cottage with lovely gardens set amidst acres of apple orchards in a quiet country lane, enjoying spectacular views over the Wealden countryside.

    Price

    Guide Price from £65.00 to £80.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  16. Add Pashley Manor Gardens to your Itinerary

    Pashley Manor Gardens

    Type

    Garden

    Ticehurst, Wadhurst

    Pashley is an ideal destination for garden lovers, art and history enthusiasts, keen photographers or those looking for a peaceful and enjoyable day out surrounded by beauty and nature.

  17. Add The Spa Hotel to your Itinerary

    The Spa Hotel

    4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars 4 AA Stars Hotel

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    The Spa Hotel is an elegant country mansion just a 10-minute walk from Tunbridge Wells Rail Station. It is set in 14 acres of gardens and parkland, and has a swimming pool and sauna.


    Price

    Guide Price from £80.00 to £270.00 Per room (room only)
  18. Add 18 Strawberry Close to your Itinerary

    18 Strawberry Close

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Strawberry Close is located on the desirable south west side of Tunbridge Wells just a short walk from the historical Pantiles.

    Price

    Guide Price from £65.00 to £80.00 Per room (breakfast included)
  19. Add Itaris Properties (Tunbridge Wells) Ltd to your Itinerary

    Itaris Properties (Tunbridge Wells) Ltd

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Plaisance is a Grade II listed building converted into six apartments two of which are used as self-catering apartments in the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells.

    Price

    Guide Price from £350.00 to £540.00 Per unit per week
  20. Add Broadwater to your Itinerary

    Broadwater

    4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars 4 Visit England Stars Bed & Breakfast

    Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Broadwater is a tastefully presented Georgian style establishment and is ideal if you require good quality accommodation in a quiet location close to Tunbridge Wells town centre.

    Price

    Guide Price from £55.00 to £95.00 Per room (breakfast included)

Search Accommodation

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search Things to Do

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search What's On

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)
Date

Search Food & Drink

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search Shopping

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Search Things to Do

Type:
Area:
Keyword: (OPTIONAL)

Now featuring traveller reviews from TripAdvisor.