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This page is about recent Finds & Donations from local Town Folk


Antique engravings Chequres 1899 & 1901.

In the engravings you can see the original town hall that stood in the centre of the high street just up from the Chequers 1899 then without with the artist showing the road to be very narrow. yet the 1901 engraving has the older feel with the artist giving the building a older look.   


Antique engraving Tunbridge Castle.

Lovely engraving one of over 100 engravings i have of the Castle and Town .


Antique engraving Tunbridge Castle William Bailey Esq 1820


1831 William Bailey, the owner devises the castle in his will to Frances, Lady Stafford

It was Frances Lady Stafford, who at the end, sold Tonbridge Castle to Tonbridge Urban District Council



Quarry Hill - Mabledon Park 


In 1804 Mr. James Burton (a Scottish man, originally called Halliburton) who was already a well-known and successful speculative property developer in London and elsewhere acquired as a family home, Quarry Hill, south of Tonbridge, overlooking the Medway Valley.

Burton re-named the house Mabledon and had it re-modeled in the Gothic style the house well hidden at the top of Quarry Hill was also down to Burton the original road being very steep climb ran very close to the house, so James Burton arranged largely at his own expense to have a new road cut through the hill, so easing the steep climb.

This was said to ease the climb and make the road much better which it did but it brought advantage to Burton himself, as he made sure that the new road ran further away from the house.


QUARRY HILL seat of James Burton Esq - near Tunbridge  1st April 1807


James Burton had sold the house in 1828 to John Deacon, of William's Deacon's Bank in London who later commissioned 29 year old established architect Decimus Burton, the tenth child of James Burton former owner of Mabledon to design a new wing for Mabledon.

The wing he developed can be seen in the later print also the slim round towers


MABLEDON PARK The seat of John Deacon Esq 1838.




Lovely pair of matching prints published 22nd April 1861 by Rock & Co  

William Frederick Rock (1801 – 1890) founded the London publishers Rock & Co., who published steel engraved vignette views in the form of cards, fancy stationery, and books and booklets. 

The business prospered and Rock became a wealthy man, but with no wife or children to support he decided to give generously to his birth place Barnstaple. At first he founded the Literary and Scientific Institution in 1845 and then, later the North Devon Athenæum in 1888. He also financed the purchase of land for Rock Park in Barnstaple and he set up a Convalescent Home in Mortehoe




View of the Castle and part of the town Tunbridge in Kent.



Engraved  by Harry Ashby from the artwork Lewes painter James Lambert Jnr. 1741-1799

Harry Ashby  1744 – 1818 was an English writing-engraver from Gloucestershire was apprenticed to a clockmaker in that town and at that time engraved dial-plates, spoons, and tankards . later he moved to London his principal employment being to engrave  maps and charts






The Port Reeve’s House, The Old Ivy House

A truly beautiful watercolor Painted by Peter D wint – 9th September 1845.


 Peter De Wint born 21 January 1784 stone Staffordshire – Died 30 January 1849) he was an English landscape painter. A number of his pictures are in the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum He moved to London in 1802, and was apprenticed legally bound through indenture to amaster craftsman in order to learn a trade this being to John Raphael Smith, the mezzotint engraver and portrait painter. Peter bought his freedom from Smith in 1806, on condition that he supplied 18 oil paintings over the following two years.

De Wint ranks as one of the chief English watercolorists


The Port Reeve’s House tucked away in East Street.

A Grade two listed building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and Heritage protection

This  is said to be the oldest house in tonbridge and dates back from around 12/13th century also known as the Ivy house and was once believed to be the Old Swan Inn as East Street was formally know as Swan Lane until around the 1860s  

A extract from The Tonbridge of Yesterday
 by Arthur H. Neve
published by Tonbridge Free Press, Ltd in 1933

Plate Drawing number 6 from The Tonbridge of Yesterday by George Mackley (born 1900 in Huntingdon, died 1983 in Tonbridge, Kent) a English wood engraving artist.

Nice Oil Painting of the Old Ivy House signed AC - no date



Somerhill House 

A charming intricate pencil drawing, signed & inscribed ‘South side of Somerhill, Kent’ / CT Dodd, 1836.

Charles Tattershall Dodd  - The elder (1815-1878). Born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1815. Educated at the Royal College of Art London, where he won a Gold Medal for drawing. More commonly known as - The Artist of Tunbridge Wells.

 A rare early example of CT Dodd’s work


Below another watercolour painted the same year as Dodds sketch title Summer Hill Tunbridge 28th June 1836 - Unknown Artist 

 Note both the spelling  "Somerhill and Tunbridge"

Below : Replica on canvas of Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851 of Somerhill  the original is in The National Gallery of Scotland.  In 1811, Somerhill was painted by Turner for the Woodgates Family the location was chosen  by the lake in the grounds looking up to the house.


 Below : Interestingly another view similar to Tuners painting dated 1825 – Unknown artist   

Mix and Match - Turner & Unknown Artist 

Somerhill House is a grade 1 listed jacobean mansion situated in Tonbridge Kent. It was built for Richard de Burgh in 1611–13. The estate was sequestrated by Parliament in 1645, and restored to its rightful owner in 1660. The building had become derelict by the mid-eighteenth century but was later restored. Somerhill was painted by Turner in 1811. It was bought by a member of the Goldsmid family in 1849 and greatly extended between 1879 and 1897, making it the second largest house in Kent, after Knole House Sevenoaks.

Below some of many additional prints in my collection.

As a personal note regarding Somerhill my Grandfather from my mother’s side grew up in Somerhill Road Tonbridge with a lovely view of the house in the distance My Grandfather use to race Greyhounds and his star winner was a Greyhound called Somerhill Sunrise. I will track the trophy and pictures down from my Uncles and add to this post.

 Grandfather with Somerhill Sunrise

Winner of 10 out of 13 races

Tonbridge “Mustache Cup”

During the Victorian era mustaches of all sorts flourished, being a form of male pride, with some men going to extreme lengths to grow a perfect example such as the Walrus and handlebar mustaches that were in style through much of Victoria’s reign.

The problem was how to maintain and shape, it required the use of a special wax to keep it nice and stiff and in perfect shape. With one problem solved this lead to another being e Gentleman’s past time drinking a hot steaming  cup of tea or coffee  the steam melted the wax and dripped it right into the cup and leaving the mustache drooping .

The “Mustache Cup”, was born

Invented about 1860 by a  British potter named Harvey Adams his solution to this problem was quite simple, adding a the ledge with a hole in it to allowed the passage of liquids, but shielded the mustache keeping it fresh and dry.

Being invented and tried and tested in Britain and proved very popular, with news of its existence spreading quickly amongst all social classes.
The new invention spread all over the European continent and soon, every famous potter was making the new cups. Its popularity even led Industrial manufacturers shipping them to new markets, especially America.

The popularity of these cups lasted until the beginning of the First World War, when clean cut military faces replaced those fabulous Walrus and handlebar mustaches that were in style through much of Victoria’s reign.

The Great Bridge Tonbridge


Nice Architectural print Reads - The elevation of the now Intended Bridge at Tunbridge Design by Robert Mylne

Robert Mylne (4 January 1733 – 5 May 1811) a Scottish architect and civil engineer, particularly remembered for his design for the Black friars Bridge over the Thames in London.

The Bridge was erected in 1775 the Medway also being widened served the town and its needs for over one hundread years before it was demolished in 1887 and replaced with the current bridge built by Gray brothers iron founders Tonbridge .

Nice early print showing the Bridge and the old Wise buildings  


Prior to the building of the stone Bridge would have probably been a wooden structure however the Medway was a lot lower with a gravel bed and had always been a crossing point in the town like in the above. 


Engraving of Tunbridge Castle 1815

Taken from the Art work of
Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1792–1864) a topographical watercolor artist well known for his architectural paintings. Shepherd, mostly worked for Frederick Crace, who employed him to paint old London buildings prior to their demolition, with much of the work surviving in the Crace collection at the British Museum.

The Crace collection consists of some 1200 manuscript and printed maps and views of London dating from 1560 to 1860. And considered as one of the most varied and important collections of London ever to be assembled.

Tonbridge United Football Club

League  Team Season 1905 - 6 winners of the Tonbridge and District League  

P Stonestreet  J F Mockford          
JB Barden E Down  H Pearson  A Grundy  J Scott  F Elliott A Burfoot
J Bowles  A Bowles  A Dye ( Capt )  W Miller H Miller S Jennings   
W Turley W Maynard           

TUNBRIDGE proposed change of the name to TONBRIDGE

Since long before the 16th century the town had been spelt as TUNBRIDGE.

From the early 1800s the town was being spelt both with a U or an O. The town’s local board was formed in 1870 and they agreed to the commercial spelling of the town and this was to be TONBRIDGE. One of the town’s local board members was a Mr. Thomas Pawley the proprietor of the Rose and Crown Hotel in the high street. From 1860c – 1890c you can see clearly the two spellings TUNBRIDGE &TONBRIDGE in various documents maps prints and in the town itself.

Thomas Pawley being on the local board had his bottles changed from a U to an O around 1870 onwards , although a high percentage the community adopted the spelling TONBRIDGE not everyone agreed the post office continued to use the spelling TUNBRIDGE and did not agree to use the O until February 1893 with the official name change and then it was adopted fully by the community.

Below is a copy of the postmaster general proposing the change of the towns spelling from TUNBRIDGE to TONBRIDGE dated 7th February 1893

TUNBRIDGE proposed change of the name to TONBRIDGE

The Postmaster General, I submit Memorials from the Tunbridge local board and the Ratepayers Associations, asking that the spelling Tonbridge may be adopted by the department.

As it appears to be from the Surveyors report that the form of the name is commonly adopted by public bodies and the residents in the town generally.

I think the request should be granted and if you approve I will issue instructions for the Name to be spelt on the date stamps and on all official documents.

7th February 1893   

The post office agreed and then Tunbridge became Tonbridge on the 4th Mach 1893

To fall perfectly in line with this is Bottle below centre from John Salkeld Horsley the owner of the B Mineral water company at the Masonic Buildings next to the Great Bridge.  Horsley started business in 1887 when the new buildings where built and continued to trade until 1893.

All Bottles from the company the B under Horsley have been spelt TUNBRIDGE until this nice find with the spelling TONBRIDGE which was the year Horsley sold the business to Hugh Nicholls in April  1893.

Horsley bottle Tunbridge Horsley bottle Tonbridge   Nicholls bottle Tunbridge

This was sadly being then End of the spelling TUNBRIDGE, a nice historical bottle that falls perfectly in line with the change.  Hugh Nicholls continued the trade at the Masonic Building still using the name the B but all bottles produced after where spelt TONBRIDGE.

Yet even though sadly we changed the name still today many of the locals pronounce the town TONBRIDGE sounding the U – TUN.  It’s a bit like the way many pronounce London sounding a U  Lun.

Two very nice litho prints Depicting stage coach scenes Tonbridge to Sevenoaks

Engraved in 1854, by J Harris from the artists work by William Shayer English Landscape and figure painter 1787 – 1879. Published by R Ackermann London. With premises at 101 Strand, he named “The Repository of Arts” The Repository of Art soon became the probably the most fashionable place for the upper classes of London to visit.  Ackermann always wanting to be elegant and up to date with the fast changes was one of the first businesses in the country to be illuminated by gas lighting

Rudolph Ackermann (1764–1834), fine-art publisher bookseller and Inventor came from a family of German coach-builders
and harness-makers, as a young man he was making designs for many of the principal coach-builders.

Although Ackermann set up a book selling and Lithograph business his passion for coaches led him to design and built some of the finest coaches in England. And was responsible for innovative design of the security mail coach which ran between Charring Cross and Greenwich

His most memorable commission the carriage used to carry the body of Admiral Nelson during his funeral procession.

He also patented the steering mechanism know today as Ackermann’s Steering Geometry although not the inventor this being Georg Lankensperger a German Coach builder Ackermann was his agent.  

Ackermann In 1801 also patented a method for rendering paper and cloth waterproof and then erected a factory in Chelsea to make it.

Ackermann’s Steering Geometry continues to be used in horse-drawn carriages and passenger cars to this day.

Interestingly  the below print is very similar to the Ackermann’s  – This one called  on River Hill 1872

The Stags Head – Houselands Tonbridge

Nice advertisement for the freehold of the Stags Head Inn and Dwelling Houses in Lodge Road to be sold at Auction by Messers Wickenden at the Rose and Crown Hotel on Tuesday afternoon the 1st June 1886 at four o’clock precisely.

Although the stags head is in Stafford road the area at the time was known as Houselands and being situated next to the old market ground
it was a very popular little drinking place.    

The Freehold was taken by George Young who was the proprietor from 1886 to 1891 its nice to see the mention Houselands  Tonbridge

Proprietor’s bottles found from the Stags Head Inn as follows

G Young - 1886 - 1891

C R Ware – 1891 -1895

J Woodward 1895 - 1899  

In the 90s the new landlord changed the name for a short period  to the Stafford Arms but reverted back to the original name the Stags Head .

In the 1881 census there was a John Young Beer Retailer at number 12 the Slade registered as the Nags Head,
Interestingly in this advertisement the auction was being held by Order of the Trustees of the Will of the late Mr John Yo
ung .

Was this a mistake are the Nags Head & Stags head the same Inn


1881 census Nages Head, 12 Slade – John Young.  1891 census Stags Head Inn, 49, Lodge Road – George Young.
Present Day yet not in service - Stags Head, 9 Stafford Road

Many changes here will have to do some more research unless someone can help.   

Tonbridge Crested China Horseshoe – You can learn a lot from a little souvenir.
Do you have a lucky Horseshoe .

Horseshoes are considered a good luck charm in many cultures.

One reputed origin of the tradition of lucky horseshoes is the story of Saint Dunstan and the Devil. Dunstan, who would become the Archbishop of Canterbury in AD 959, was a blacksmith by trade. The story relates that he once nailed a horseshoe to the Devil's hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil's horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after the Devil promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is hung over the door.

 Another theory concerning the placing of horseshoes above doorways is to ward off Witches. The theory being that supernatural beings are repelled by iron and as horseshoes were an easily available source of iron, they could be nailed above a door to prevent any unwanted, otherworldly guests. 


Illustrations  by George Cruikshank for  from The True Legend of St. Dunstan and the Devil  depicting both -   engraved by J. Thompson, London, 1871

Crested china

Crested china is typically in the form of small white glazed porcelain models, made from 1858 to 1939, carrying the coat of arms of the place where they were sold as a souvenir.  Goss is still the most collectable of the Crested China other factories such as  Carlton, Shelley and Arcadian, also made souvenir ware

Tonbridge Motto .

Tonbridges Town Motto -  Salus populi suprema lex ,

the health of the people is the supreme law John Gorham 1814-1899

The Motto was actually chosen for the town around 1870s by John Gorham a doctor and noble figure in the town.  

The words chosen from the heart of a medical man to the people of Tonbridge . Because it was John Gorham’s after many campaigns  for better sanitation in Tonbridge after a outbreak of smallpox killed 39 people in the town in 1854 of which most of them where children .
A local Board of Health was eventually set up with Gorham a founder member which lead to Tonbridge getting proper sewers and sewage works. 

The Mirror of literature, amusement and instruction,
Saturday August 26th 1826 - Tunbridge Castle Kent.

John Limbird (1796-1883) was an English stationer, bookseller and publisher, characterized by an obituarist as "the father of our periodical writing".
A small weekly published periodical magazine containing original essays; historical narratives; biographical memoirs; sketches of society; topographical descriptions; novels and tales; anecdotes; poetry, original and selected; the spirit of the public journals; discoveries in the arts and sciences; useful domestic hints; etc.

At the age of 26 From 1822 to 1847 Limbird published a two penny weekly, The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, which has been characterized as "the first long-lived cheap periodical" in Britain. Then Late 1847 it became the Mirror Monthly Magazine; and from 1849 to 1850 appeared finally as the London Review.

The Opening paragraph

Tunbridge or as it is frequently called Tunbridge Town to distinguish it from the well-know watering place in the same county , is situated in the south western part of Kent , on the banks of the Medway, and derives its name from the number of bridges over the river, which here separates itself into five streams.

Lawson’s Cabinet Maker.

Not sure which member of the Lawson family it is in the photo with his trusty little Jack Russell and probably a good rat catcher around the stable even the horse  all three must have a name any info welcomed. 

Lawson Cabinet Maker  / Antiques 165 High Street

Before Lawson Stidolphs Auctioneers & Cabinet Maker occupied the site at 165 high street before being demolished in 1878 then rebuilt and becoming Lawson’s now Bonners the building we see today.

its nice to see the building has not changed much from the old advertising card and even the buildings either side in the Stidolphs picture. The site now occupied by Bonners Furniture shop who incidentally also a well established Family name company are dating back around 125 years when John Bonner opened his first shop at a 172 high street.   

A Small yet wonderful piece of Engraving    

Part of an old early Tonbridge engraving of the Paul Sanby painting of Tonbridge, with the bridge and  houses.


This although only a fraction of the original work still displays well with good detail of the engravers work and depicts the Old weather board Caste inn and small part of the bridge , the rest of the prints was destroyed by water damage and bad foxing and stuck to the glass frame

This later print of the same scene by Sanby with a different engraver can give you an idea of what it would have looked like.

Paul Sandby, R.A. (1730-1809)  was an English map-maker turned landscape painter in watercolors, who, along with his older brother Thomas, became one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768

Paintings - Chequers Inn Tonbridge Castle.

A washed Ink drawing of the chequers inn – Unknown artist

Nice little watercolor of the Castle by S Norton 1949


Crested China - John Bull

John Bull is a national personification of Great Britain in general and England in particular] especially in political cartoons and similar graphic works. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged, country dwelling, jolly, matter-of-fact man.

Oh Tunbridge / Tonbridge where have you gone 

When you see photos like this its such a shame will pull our town down. 

Where has Tonbridge Gone and what can we do, we now spell our town with an O.
but we started and much preferred it with a U.

Lords Kings and Queens even the Great Seal of  England have all stayed in our town.
Yet all we seem to do is just keep pulling it down.

1741 Thomas Hooker our splendid castle what you have done ,you quarried the stone and left a shell keep for your son.
But bridges and locks a widened river too brining navigation and industry to Tonbridge we owe this to you.

1842 a year in time, when the priory was destroyed by the coming of a railway line.
But what splendour and secrets did the old priory hold, a stone sarcophagus still remains at somerhill but whom did it hold. 

1887 Victoria’s golden jubilee and a new Great Bridge for all to cross and see.
But we must not forget our little bridge too as this is the original river from were our town Tonbridge grew and grew.

1901 the foundation stones of the new fire station were laid with horse drawn steamers and men so brave.
Many Tonbridge Lives and buildings she helped to save. But what will be her fate we will have to see.
But it would make a fantastic museum for a town with such history.   

1914 Cricket gone from the Angel grounds turffed up during the war.
where many Tonbridge Hand stitched cricket balls helped Frank Woolley hold the score.

1968 flooding with our town under water and things looking quite grim,
like the long lost memories of the weir and shallows a lovely place to swim.

Hours of fun on the river in Alfred Norton’s boats.Once a market town where through the high street people led herds of goats. 

To the Carlton café for afternoon tea, or to the Angel & Bull for something a little stronger.
Like many tonbridge pubs & buildings these are no longer.

Now standing Waiting for a bus in the north part of town just down from the chequers those wonderful buildings all pulled down.
A film at Capital an evening at the Ritz, all long gone memories of a town pulled to bits.

Well dear Tonbridgians what have we left in our wonderful historic town.
Its fate lies with us to preserve what we have and to stop pulling it down

Tonbridge Priory

Tonbridge Priory was established in 1124 by Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare the head at Tonbridge Castle and was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene a religious figure in Christianity.

Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare who after his death in 1136 was buried at the priory along with many others decedents later to follow.

The original Priory was destroyed in 1337 by a fire but was then rebuilt and continued as a Priory until 1523. The priory building was still intact around 1735, but was a ruin by 1780 after much of the stone was used within the town.

In the 1820s, men digging for stones unearthed some stone coffins and skeletons, one of the coffins was acquired by James Alexander the owner of Somerhill House and was placed in the garden at Somerhill House where today the coffin still remains 

The ruins of the priory were finally demolished in 1842 when South Eastern Railways built the Red hill to Tonbridge line. A plea to the Railway Company was made by Tonbridge to preserve the ruins yet rejected yet another part of our towns history disappeared.


Some years later with the building of the new signal box in 1934 it was recorded that more bones where discovered but the whereabouts of these bones still remain a mystery.

There are not many oil paintings of  the priory some very nice prints yes but oil paintings depicting the priory harder to find. I have two oils one on an Oak Panel the other on Canvas both unique in their own way circa 1820s.

The oak panel unknown artist depicts the Coffin lid and probably the one that sits in the Garden at Somerhill today.

The canvas unknown artist again shows the Catts Iron and Brass Foundry built next to the priory which can also be seen in the print . There is still a great deal of undeveloped land where the priory stood and the railway only scratched the surface who know what and who still lies beneath.

The Prince Albert Inn Tonbridge by Beatrice Warner cica 1891 

Everyone at some stage in their life wants to try their hand at painting as did Beatrice Warner when she painted this picture of the Prince Albert Inn .

In the 1891 census Beatrice Warner 19 occupation fire wood chopper daughter of Fanny Warner fire wood dealer was living at 14 vale road Tonbridge right next door to the Prince Albert Inn 16 Vale road.


The Prince Albert inn at this time was under proprietorship of Matilda E Elkington age 40. 

I like the way Beatrice puts her name to the painting – The Prince Albert by B WARNER then puts her older sister Lucy Warner 24 above the door – Lucys occupation was also Fire wood chopper.

I can remember having many a pint and party at the Prince Albert known simply to the locals as the PA , but can’t remember when it closed just the last New Year’s eve party there and that the old inn sign was retained by the last landlord Pete.

Note to Peter :  Pete / Peter if you ever see this please mail me link below we did speak a couple of years ago at a boot fair and laughed about some of the Christmas party discos Marks Brother.

Tonbridge School Tea Set  


This Lovely china teapot cups and saucers in Gold Gilding were believed to be a leaving gift for one of the masters at the school around 1890.

It depicts the three Boars heads the crest of the school and the School Motto

 : Deus Dat Incrementum (God Giveth the Increase)

Tonbridge School  for boys in was founded in 1553 by Sir  Andrew Judd  (sometimes spelled Judde).

Also in the prints you can see the Boars head crest on the building.

The First United Kingdom general election 8th December 1832


Two lovely prints of the First United Kingdom general election Tonbridge 8th December 1832.

This was the first General election that followed the Representation of the People Act 1832 known as the Reform Act .


The candidates for Tonbridge which was also to represent the Western Division of the county of Kent in parliament. The candidates being Thomas Law Hodges, Thomas Rider and Sir William R. P. Geary.

The Official nominating took place on Thursday 14th January 1835 at Penenden Heath Maidstone it was announced that Rider Withdrew from the contest the votes were as follows:
Thomas Law Hodges 2093 , Thomas Rider 2007,  and sir William R. P. Geary 2558.

So it was decided the choice of electors had fallen upon Thomas Law Hodges  and sir William R. P. Geary.


In the prints you can see the original town hall that stood in the centre of the high street just up from the Chequers inn.  

The Town hall was erected in 1798 demolished 1901,  Part of the original wooden clock frame still exists in the castle.

Another point noted in the prints is The Rose and Crown Inn at this time was under proprietorship of William Parker and Sons , This nice early salt glaze flagon from Parker dates around 1830-1840.