Sunday, 31 March 2013

Tonbridge Passion Play

Over 2000 onlookers braved the bitterly cold temperatures on Good Friday to watch the first ever Passion Play staged in Kent.

The dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ, his trial, suffering and death was performed in the shadow of the castle walls, and moved through the heart of the crowd on Castle Lawn.

I was impressed with the whole production, the acting and the dedication of the cast. I was also impressed with the enormous crowd who had gathered to support and share the experience.

This certainly was something very good for Tonbridge and hopefully it will be a start of a new Easter tradition for the town.

Jesus and his disciples

The Last Supper
Young Onlookers
Cast and Crowd Mingle
Jesus is nailed to the cross

The Crucifixion

Friday, 29 March 2013

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #200

Tonbridge Daily Snippet

In 1829 Tonbridge School governors erect posts to mark boundaries of their property. Look carefully as many still exist.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Final Rehearsals for Tonbridge Passion Play

The cast of the Tonbridge Passion Play braved sub zero temperatures to rehearse at Tonbridge Castle this afternoon. These guys really have to be admired for their enthusiasm and dedication as the wind chill factor was positively arctic.

It was all looking very professional and sounding good as Tom Holland who is playing Jesus projected his strong voice around the Castle Lawn. I also caught my first glimpse of the enormous cross built by carpentry students at the West Kent YMCA designed to bear the weight of the 6ft 4in Jesus. Impressive!

There will be one performance only on Good Friday, and this will start from St. Peter and St. Paul Church (Parish Church) at 10.20am, with a procession to Tonbridge Castle where the play will begin at 10.30am, in front of the audience on Castle Lawn.

This is the first ever Passion Play to be set in Kent and it is going to happen in our town, so please go along and support the event.  Remember to take your camera and wrap up warm. This is not to be missed!!! Just think you will be able to say you were there at the very beginning ... when Tonbridge started a new tradition.

Have you ever spotted a baby pigeon

Yesterday I was wandering around the town, and noticed there was a lot of activity going on through a hole in a boarded up window in Bank Street.  Pigeons were going back and forth through the small opening at a rate of about 1 every 10 seconds carrying twigs, and other things suitable for nest building. It was really fascinating to watch.

So, I asked myself why I'd never seen a baby pigeon. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who have actually seen one of these rare sights. I certainly haven't, and with so many of them in Tonbridge it seemed a little odd. We see common garden bird fledgings being fed by their parents, so why don't we see baby pigeons?

Apparently our run-of-the-mill town pigeons build their nests in the nooks and crannies of our urban townscape, and seek out quiet places reminiscent to their native cliffside habitats. The babies, or squabs, are well hidden and safe until they can survive on their own and are almost fully grown. Usually by the time they fly the coop they look as large as a fully grown pigeon, so it's difficult to tell if it is a youngster when they are seen out and about by us unsuspecting humans.

I'm going to keep my eyes peeled as I'm determined to spot one, but if anyone does or manages to take a photo of a baby pigeon let me know.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tonbridge will host Kent's first Passion Play this Easter

This Easter Tonbridge will host Kent’s first-ever Passion Play in an ambitious and free community project involving nearly 100 local people of all ages and backgrounds.

The story of the death and resurrection of Jesus, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, takes place in front of Tonbridge Castle on the morning of Good Friday, 29 March. 

Directed by Helen Longley and working with Tonbridge Area Churches Together (TACT), the part of Jesus is being taken on by young Tom Holland, 23, a former Hugh Christie Technology College student from Tunbridge Wells.

Leading a donkey called Guinness and followed by a costumed cast where many of the actors are under 30, Tom will make his entrance through the Castle Gateway where he will be greeted by local primary school children singing his praise. The action continues on the tarmac in front of the Castle, the Lawns below providing a natural amphitheatre for the audience to gather and watch the powerful story unfold.

As well as the actors, who have been rehearsing all year at Tonbridge Baptist Church, many behind-the-scenes talents have been involved, including professional sound, music and set building – not least an impressive cross built by carpentry students at the West Kent YMCA designed to bear the weight of a 6ft 4in Jesus.

There will be one performance which takes place on Good Friday (March 29), starting from St. Peter and St. Paul at 10.20am and processing to Tonbridge Castle where the play will commence at 10.30am in front of the audience on Castle Lawn.

Bygone Tonbridge

This is an interesting drawing by George E Mackley depicting the area in front of The Chequers Inn in Tonbridge High Street. The Market Place was lost to the building of a new town hall that was demolished for road widening.

If you look carefully, the entrance to Castle Street is visible next to the building on the far right, and The Chequers Inn is still recognisable.  It seems that this part of the High Street was once the main gathering and trading area, and a busy space to place the town stocks, where the accused was at the mercy of the mob to be pelted with anything that could fit in their hands, especially rotten fruit and vegetables, dead rodents etc.

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #198 - All this week

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #196

Vibrant new local art exhibition in Tonbridge

An exhibition of high quality work by Tonbridge Creative, a group of artists living in and around Tonbridge, including Painting, Photography, Paper, Glass and Ceramics.

Thursday 28th March  to Wednesday 3rd April
Tunnel Gallery
Tonbridge School
10am 5pm daily

New group Tonbridge Creative are acting as a focus to provide opportunities to present locally produced work.  There is is a wealth of creative talent in Tonbridge and the surrounding area, but until now it has been hard to see results.    

ArtSpring, an exhibition at the Tunnel Gallery, is expected to be the first of many opportunities for people to enjoy work produced in their area.

The Tunnel Gallery is tucked away in Tonbridge School at the north end of the High Street, but it is open for anyone to visit and it is well worth seeking out.  One or more of the makers will be in the gallery every day so take this chance to visit and talk to local artists about their work.  All the work on show will be for sale.

Recognising Tonbridge

Where in Tonbridge can this be found????

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Friday, 22 March 2013

Chance to raise funds for local charities and clubs

Tonbridge Lions will be holding their 32nd annual walk to help raise funds for local charities on Sunday May 19.

The Lions do all the organising and marshalling of the event and supporters of other charities get the sponsorship and do the walking. No fee is charged to participate. The charities keep all the money for themselves. Last year over £6,000 was raised by this event.

It will be a pleasant walk with two choices, one a short walk of approximately 5 miles, the other a similar walk but approximately 10 miles. Both walks will have drink stations at suitable points. Detailed point to point instructions and maps will be issued on the day.

At the finish, walkers will have their sponsor forms officially “stamped” to show that they had completed the walk and Mike Stout, President of Tonbridge Lions will present each walker with a certificate.

To register your interest in this walk, please contact John Ruck on 01732 351711 or e-mail

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #194

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Recognising Tonbridge Recognised

Recognising Tonbridge feature
This was a difficult one, and it took a while for it to be recognised, but eventually a number of people spotted where this stone feature is situated in Tonbridge. It is a relic from the old Heusenstamm Castle in Germany, presented to the Heusenstamm Friendship Circle in Tonbridge, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the twinning of the two towns. The stone is situated on the grassy area close to the War Memorial.

The first to recognise the stone was Tony Keen who wrote:-
'At first I thought this was the path that runs from the Big Bridge to the Council Offices at the castle, passing behind Chequers. Then I realised that said path is the other side of the wall, and I couldn't work out what the masonry in the foreground was Then this afternoon I walked by the war memorial and realised that I'd got it spot on, that's not a path (the path is the other side of that wall) and the masonry is a fragment of Heusenstamm castle, which I'd never known was there.'

Tony's post really pleased me, as I started the Recognising Tonbridge idea in the hope it would encourage people to look more closely at the fine details, and interesting features in the town that are usually unnoticed. I receive lots of comments from readers who are always discovering something new that they hadn't seen before, and yet had walked by many times.

Peter Harris, as always, knew the spot as did a number of others.

The Heusenstamm Friendship Circle (I'm a member) aims to bring together those who are interested in our twin town in Germany, and to encourage people to take part in visits to Heusenstamm and in return receive visitors.

Tonbridge & Malling has been twinned with Heusenstamm since 1984, and there are established links between many local groups with their opposite number in Heusenstamm, among them the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society, Oast Theatre Club, Old Juddian Rugby Club, Table Tennis Club, and the Sevenoaks & Tonbridge Concert Band.

Annual exchanges are also made by the Judd School and, until recently, by Tonbridge Grammar School. Exchanges have also taken place between the Hayesbrook School and the Realschule. It is hoped the schools links will be extended in the near future to include Slade School and an equivalent school in Heusenstamm.

Also regular visits are made to Heusenstamm to enjoy music, sports, drama and other joint activities, and visitors stay in the homes of their hosts, and many long lasting friendships have been made in this way.

If you want to join and get to know the culture and the people of Heusenstamm, and their beautiful town visit There's also a permanent display at The Angel Centre which includes photographs where you can pick up details of the Huesenstamm Friendship Circle and an application form.

An exotic view on Tonbridge

This painting of Big Bridge was exhibited at Tonbridge Art Group's recent spring exhibition.
I found it somehow compelling as it has a kind of exotic feel to it, and slightly eastern look, due to the shapes of the trees and the foliage. In fact the spot down by the river is almost unrecognisable to me although clearly recognisable. I think that's what drew me to it.

Homemade Wine Anyone?

If you enjoy learning about and tasting new wines, you may be tempted to make your own, and there's help at hand at the local Tonbridge Winemakers who are based at K College in Brook Street. Every month this friendly bunch of wine making enthusiasts get together to discuss, advise and taste different wines. The group are opening their doors to new members, and you don't have to have any experience in winemaking, as there are plenty of members who will help you on your way to making your first bottle of wine.

Cathy Rishman
Member Cathy Rishman has been making wine for many years. She says 'I started winemaking in 1974.  The first I ever made was dandelion wine. This was from a recipe in an old cookbook that belonged to my grandmother, “Mrs Beeton’s All About Cookery”.  At that time I made medium to sweet country wines.  Later I favoured grape based wines, but in recent years I have reverted to producing country wines.'

Cathy will be talking about her experiences of making wines at the club meeting in June, when there will be tastings and recipes for wines which have been made from ingredients bought in supermarkets and winemaking shops.

Les Maskrey

The July meeting is certainly something to look forward to as member, Les Maskrey who apparently has an inimitable style will be giving a talk which he promises to be a blast from the past. He calls this “Some of our Yesterdays – plus Yankee Doodle Dandy”.  The event will feature photographs of past club activities including fancy dress parties, barn dances and trips abroad, and there’s a bonus, Les’s talk coincides with American Independence Day, so he proposes putting up some American wines for tasting, “just to help the evening along”. Sounds good doesn't it.

If all this whets your appetite for getting involved, and you want to know more or contact the group, take a look at Tonbridge Winemakers on  The next meeting is in April.

Absolutely Fabulous at Gorgeous George

There was something Absolutely Fabulous happening at Gorgeous George, the Tonbridge Pavilion gift shop, in aid of Comic Relief last week. There was dancing going in the shop window and prancing around the High Street by lookalikes of the Ab Fab comic wonders, Patsy and Eddie.

If you missed the beehives and pouting, here are a few photos of the outrageous duo in the town raising eyebrows and money for the charity.

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbrige Daily Photo #192 - Signs of Spring in The Pavilion

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Most expensive tin of dog food ever????

An excited tweet by the 8th Tonbridge Scouts announced that a tin of dog food raised £150 during an auction held at the hut in Hildenborough.  That's one expensive meal in a can - let's hope the lucky dog appreciates it.

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #189

Friday, 15 March 2013

Easter Activities at The Angel Centre

Keeping the children entertained over the Easter holidays is easy at The Angel Centre will be offering supervised day care for eight to twelve year olds from 1 to 12 April with Day Camps, Half Day Camps and two hour Drop In sessions offering a range of activities including sports and team games, swimming, arts and crafts and film time.

Tonbridge Swimming Pool will be opening its heated outdoor pool on Friday 29 March complete with beach area for the very young and interactive water arch, and on offer are a range of holiday swimming courses for children aged four to eleven years old. The Games Hut at Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground will also be open with its children’s play area, mini golf course and bouncy castle.  

You can now sign up online or by phone to automatically receive details of the Holiday Programmes taking place at The Angel Centre.  Anyone signing up online will also receive a £7 Family Swim Voucher.        

For more information, please contact the Angel Centre on 01732 359966 or Tonbridge Swimming Pool on 01732 367449 or visit  or 

Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #188

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tonbridge Watercolour Exhibition

This week I took the opportunity of dropping in to Julie King's Tonbridge Art Class Exhibition of watercolours at Martin & Co - Estate Agents (between The Chequers and the National Westminster Bank). It's a vibrant display of very accomplished paintings in a clean, bright and interesting space. The pieces are hung between the heavy dark timbers of this historic building, and it creates an impressive contrast to the delicate watercolours.

Julie's classes are held regularly at The Baptist Church in Tonbridge, and this is an opportunity for her enthusiastic and talented students to show their original paintings that cover a wide range of subjects from still life to landscape.

Do stop by and take a look. The office staff are very welcoming, and will guide you to the exhibition which is on the first floor. Exhibits are for sale and 20% of money raised will be donated to The Hospice in the Weald.

The exhibition runs until Thursday April 4 (except Bank Holiday Monday). Viewing 9.30am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 2pm on Saturdays.


Tonbridge Daily Photo

Tonbridge Daily Photo #186