Monday, 27 February 2012

Recognising Tonbridge

When you are next out and about in Tonbridge look up and you might find where I am today !!

Nestles Milk - Richest in Cream

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Tonbridge Castle and Castle Lawn

Tonbridge Castle was built in the 11th century by Richard Fitz Gilbert who was a half brother of William the Conqueror.  Richard was responsible for governing England during the many absences of the King William I.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

There were a few correct answers on this Recognising Tonbridge post. Welcome back to Shaun who is a man who knows the Tonbridge spots well, and who I have rarely been able to outwit.

There were also a number of correct sitings via Twitter including Peter @greenhares who also tends to regularly recognise where I am, and a few vague guesses came through that it had to be one of the churches in the town.

Methodist Church - East Street

It is in fact the large arched window on the former Methodist Church in East Street. The stunning window can easily be missed when walking down the narrow pavements and street.  The upper part is a rose window with five trefoil arches and is flashed below by lancets with trefoil heads either side.  Trefoil is a graphic form composed in outline of three overlapping rings, and this pattern is visible on the sides of the window. This ornate feature was often used in Victorian architecture and Christian symbolism referring to The Trinity.

Rose detail in window and trefoil design
 The sculpted images of two male heads that sit on either side of the window and are of Charles and John Wesley who are known to be the founders of Methodism. I am not sure who is who, but if anyone has that information please let me know.

The first Methodist meetings started in Tonbridge in 1802 and took place in 5 various buidlings and locations until the New Wesleyan Chapel was opened is Swan Lane (now East Street) in 1872. In this year the church was reconstructed in East Street at a cost of £2,000. This was the sixth place of worship that Methodists had in Tonbridge.

Memorial Stone laid on June 4 1872

This is a Grade II listed building. So stop next time you pass through East Street, it is certainly worth standing on the opposite pavement to the church and taking a look up at this generally unnoticed spot. I am sure you will be surprised at the beauty of the architecture that is above you.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Statue Of Our Enry

I read this week that Henry Cooper, will be immortalised in bronze by a Staffordshire sculptor and the finished work will eventually stand in London.  Maybe it would have been fitting for a statue of 'Our Enry' to have had pride of place somewhere in Tonbridge, as he did live in the far northern reaches of the town for a while, and had strong links with Nizels Golf Club in Hildenborough where he was Chairman. Many Tonbridge members of the club have played a round of golf with Henry, and enjoyed a drink with him at the bar. Locals say that he regularly 'splashed it all over' (the vinegar that is) when he ordered an occasional fish and chip supper from the Rainbow Fish Bar at York Parade. So Henry was really 'Our Enry' for a time in Tonbridge.

Henry's funeral took place last May at Corpus Christi Church in Lyons Crescent, and many sporting celebrities and friends attended the private service.  Among them was the late Frank Carson who died recently. The selection of photographs are a few of the many I took that day.

The late Frank Carson talks to Barry McGuigan
Russ Abbot (Comedian)
Terry Wogan, Jimmy Tarbuck and his wife
Dancing (Brucie) Bruce Forsyth & Tonbridge golfer Paul Way former Ryder Cup player
Boxer Barry McGuigan
Three Legends - Kevin Keegan, Cliff Morgan & Bobby Charlton
Pat Jennings (Goal Keeper) & Kenny Lynch (Singer)
Kevin Keegan
Lyons Crescent Postie & Kevin Keegan
 all photographs copyright TonbridgeDaily

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

A iron post sits outside the main library in Avebury Avenue marking the location of a former tollgate.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

In 1724 Daniel Defoe writes of Tonbridge ... 'the Houses in the Town are mostly ill-built, and the Streets sorrily paved'

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

New Wharf Road
Tonbridge Water Works Company
Many of you recognised the Tonbridge Water Works Company mark on the wall opposite the Canoe Club in New Wharf Road.  It commemorates the beginning of  the piped public water supply that started to flow in 1852. Apparantly this was to only 176 houses in Tonbridge.  It probably included  the Brewery alongside the river as the initiative was instigated by a small group of local business men who could have been looking after their own concerns. (Nothing changes)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Two public burnings of accused women took place outside and close to The Chequers Inn Tonbridge in 1555 and 1576

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

The Port Reeves House in East Street is believed to be the oldest building in Tonbridge with its cellar dating around the 12th/13th century.

Genty Fine Art. At Home

David and Helen Genty's latest exhibition at The Tygers Head, Church Lane, Tonbridge
25th February to 4th March
Open Saturday and Sunday 11am to 6pm
Monday to Friday 
by appointment

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Once Upon A Time

While I was walking through The Rose and Crown car park I noticed that there's a new addition to the chicken and egg on The Fire Barn's wall.

Could this be the beginning of a new folktale to rival the Brothers Grimm's, Town Musicians of Bremen?  Does anyone want to start?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Tempt Your Tastebuds


The Young Enterprise mission statement is "to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through enterprise' ...  'learning by doing' is the buzz word ... and this is precisely what a group of students from the Weald Of Kent Grammar School have done.

The ten young entrepreneurs have formed the company '10Dency', and they are holding an evening talk on bee keeping when the public will be given the chance to sample. and buy their honey products  There will also be an exciting launch of 10Dency's new cookbook.

It all takes place on Friday February 17 from 6.30 to 7.30pm at St. Philips Church, Salisbury Road in Tonbridge.  Entry is £3 and free refreshments will be available during the evening. If you need any more information call 078762347770 or

So put the date in your diary, have fun, enjoy the excitement and support the initiative of 10Dency all at the same time.

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

The 1880 Parlimentary Election results caused a riot in Tonbridge when several thousand people started to hurl stones and cobbles at each other near the Rose and Crown Hotel.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

'Love Chilli' Bag Spotted in St Ives

Tate St Ives

No sooner was Tonbridge Art Group's trip to Cornwall on the blog, a message and the above photo arrived from Steve (The Chilli Man) from Tonbridge Farmers Market.  

'This is a much better picture of the Tate St Ives.
What a surprise, there's someone with a love chilli bag.'

Tonbridge Art Group's Cornish Trip

Tonbridge Art Group are travelling to the beautiful Cornish coast in July, and heading to St Ives with its tiny winding streets, fascinating shops and picturesque cottages which retain all the traditional charm of the historic fishing town, and there are a few spaces left on the trip for non-art members..

St Ives Harbour
This is the perfect trip for the group to make as St Ives is synonymous with art.  Since the end of the nineteenth century it has supported a thriving art community, and artists have been attracted to the town for generations because of the special quality of light that makes it a unique experience for painting.

The Art Group will be travelling in comfort by executive coach to The Tregenna Castle Hotel which overlooks the stunning St Ives Bay coastline, where they will be able to enjoy the swimming pool, tennis courts or simply relax in the sub tropical gardens or wander the woodland walks at their will.

The Tate St Ives

They'll be optional excursions to The Tate Gallery, The Barbara Hepworth Museum and the beautiful Minack Theatre.
Barbara Hepworth

Minack Theatre

The group will leave Tonbridge on Sunday July 1 and return on Friday July 6.  It's £514 per person for 5 nights at half-board ... breakfast and a three course evening dinner.

If you wish to join the trip please contact Mike Insley on 01732 355573

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Forever Vacant?

Church Lane & High Street
It really doesn't paint a pretty picture.  This was the building on the corner of Church Lane and The High Street in Tonbridge when I last passed by.  Looking forlorn, miserable and empty. It seems that Alishan may not be moving into the corner building afterall, and this is a great shame as it is a really a good restaurant.  It would have certainly given long awaited life to this vacant and sad corner of Church Lane. But, it isn't all bad news as I have heard, through the grapevine, that a new and already established business selling original and unique t shirts could be occupying the space in the future.

The last time I remember going into this corner building was when it was an enormous Oxfam, and I've spent many a time sifting through the racks and shelves trying to find something vintage, or even unearth a valuable. I believe at some point the site was occupied by a supermarket (does anyone remember this?????), and going back as far as 1789, Beeching's the linen draper traded here, and later the family opened Beeching's Bank on the premises.

Whatever business moves into the corner of Church Lane it will be welcomed, as this prime site has been boarded up and disused for far too long.  Here's hoping for some new life in this part of the town in the not too distant future.

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

The UK’s first speeding fine was issued in Tonbridge in 1896 when Walter Arnold was fined 1 shilling for speeding 8mph in a 2mph zone.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Recognising Tonbridge

The Recognising Tonbridge post is becoming extremely popular, and I am now receiving readers photographs of nooks and crannies around the town.  The shot below was sent to me by Steve, of Tonbridge Farmers Market, more notably known as 'Steve The Chilli Man'.  He noticed the stone plaque in the wall whilst delivering flyers around Tonbridge.  Where exactly is this?  And Steve, NO, you can't answer this time.

If you wish to send a photo for inclusion in Recognising Tonbridge email it as an attachment to

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

In 1850 Charles Dickens visited the Telegraph Office which was situated at The Railway Station in Tonbridge.  He wrote about this experience in his weekly magazine named 'Household Words'.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

The Steve Dilworth sculpture 'Bird Skull' was recognised on Twitter by the E.M. Forster Theatre, and to be honest they had a 'head' start as it sits directly outside the theatre entrance at Tonbridge School.

Dilworth and his work is worth a mention here, and to be honest when it comes to art I can rarely stop myself giving a small personal critique.

Although not a local man, Dilworth did attend the now iconic Maidstone School of Art in the 60's.  A time when David Hockney was an instructor at the school, The Kinks played on campus,  and art and popular culture exploded onto the scene, and maybe this Kentish link is why Tonbridge School commisioned him for this work.

Or, was the reason that Dilworth is an artist with a difference. He quietly does, and has been doing for many years, what Damien Hirst became famous for.  The material Dilworth often uses for his art contains dead animals and bones, many retrieved after death from the remote Isle of Harris on which Steve has made his home. He works closely with the landscape as he creates beautiful objects using material mostly drawn from the Island such as driftwood, bog oak, iron, shells, stone and even the surrounding sea water.  Information on some sculptures read like a list of ingredients for a recipe: 'guillemot, oak, rope, elm, silver coins'.

"A bird is a bird, but it is also a material. I’m trying to find ways of using materials simply. What you see is what you get, and then you get more than what you see,"

Imagine for one moment that the skull of a normal bird usually weighs about 1% of the birds total bodyweight and is extremely lightweight.  Dilworths beautiful 'Bird Skull' at Tonbridge School is bold and exaggerated in size, and maybe reflects the strength in the delicate skull that has to take the stresses of taking off, flying, and landing.  The highly polished sculpture seems to be in two parts and I have wondered what might lay deep inside.  Does this sculpture have an animal interior, life retreived after death or part of the landscape from the windswept remote Island?

I, for one, will be in the front row when Steve Dilworth comes to the Cawthorne Lecture Theatre at Tonbridge School on Thursday March 8 at 8pm. He'll be talking about his work, influences and working practice, and I hope to find out more about the 'Bird Skull'.  Will he reveal any deep secrets of what lies within the sculpture, if anything does at all.  I hope so!

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Corpus Christi Church in Lyons Crescent was built on 4 plots of land, each at a cost of £400, and chosen by Father Stapley, the Parish Priest, in 1901

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Love is in the air at Tonbridge Farmers Market

A Valentine's Special is happening at Tonbridge Farmers' Market on Sunday February 12, 9.30am to 1.30pm, at Sovereign Way, Tonbridge
With over 65 stalls booked it is going to be a bumper market

This will be the 9th Tonbridge Farmers' Market and there will be plenty of ideas for your Valentine's gifts, together with great food and craft items to buy your loved ones.  The choice is immense such as hand made and boxed rose flavoured chocolate truffles, aromatic essentials oils, boxed cup cakes, beeswax candles, handmade cards, jewellery. 

As always the hugely popular cookery demonstrations will take place at The Market Kitchen.  Ian from Scrum Diddly will be first up with a Scrummy porridge.  This is going to be a regular spot to start the morning market.
Jenny from Happy Apple will be doing something wonderful with pancakes.
Steve the Chilliman will be making a chilli pancake ... different ... but this could add some spice to your Valentine Day's breakfast.
And, Neil from the Globe and Rainbow, Kilndown will just be cooking what he finds on the market.  As always a treat to watch.

Tonbridge Town Girlguiding will be there all morning with a tombola together with a small demonstration of girlguiding in the Tonbridge area. They will also be looking for volunteers and new members.  So go along, have a chat and support this local group.

Out and About in Snowy Tonbridge

The Castle Lawn
Strange Snowman
Parish Churchyard

A Sunday lunch will be missing a parsnip and potatoes

Snowman in Church Street

Friday, 3 February 2012

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

Tonbridge School's stone boars heads were based on drawings of the Wild Boar at London's Natural History Museum.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

When Beer Was Cheap (1903)

Tonbridge Tales, pub. John Hilton

Childhood Memory of Tonbridge

This comment came in response to a Tonbridge Daily snippet on the town's tanneries.  It conjures up the magic of a childhood memory for something as simple as a duster collected on a school trip. A real piece of nostalgia!!!!!

'I think there was a Tannery or Abattoire in the Botany, (behind Bon Marche) and also, in or near Vale Road was The Baa Baa Co. (not sure of the spelling!)I visited there with my school class (Cage Green about 1954)They made products from sheep's fleece and wool. We were taught how to card, spin, and weave the wool, and even had an afternoon walking round a field of sheep collecting tufts of wool caught on the barbed wire fence, would Health and Safety allow that today!!! After the visit the company gave each of us a multi-coloured fleece duster on a stick. I thought it was really beautiful and couldn't get home fast enough to give it to my mum, at that time it was a luxury item we couldn't afford, or would even think of buying being totally un-necessary, but it had pride of place in our cleaning cupboard for many years.'

Recognising Tonbridge

Where in Tonbridge can this be found?