Southborough Tourist Guide
Southborough is a northern suburb of Royal Tunbridge Wells. It lies on the A26 and the nearest railway station is at High Brooms.
Arrowheads and stone axe heads have been found in the area and suggest a prehistoric occupation of Southborough. The site of the Castle Hill Iron Age Fort lies in the Eastern valley. It is thought to date from 315BC.
There was probably a Saxon fortified mound on the site of TonbridgeCastle but the next firm evidence for this area comes from after the Norman Conquest. This was because it was the most meagrely populated part of the Weald due to the nearly dense forest. After the conquest Richard de Fitzgilbert was rewarded with lands including the Lowey of Tunbridge (now Tonbridge) which covered acres stretching from Hildenborough to Tunbridge Wells and from Leigh to Hadlow.
The Manor of Southborough was included in the Manor of Tunbridge and belonged to the tenancy of the families of Clare, Audley and Stafford. In 1521 Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was beheaded on Tower Hill and the lands reverted back to the Crown. The Manor of Southborough was separated from Tonbridge and Henry VIII gave the estate to George Boleyn, brother of Anne Boleyn. George met the same end as his sister. It eventually ended up with Thomas Smythe of Westernhanger. He was known as Customer Smythe, a ‘farmer’ of the collection of customs and excise dues. In 1790 when Lady Smythe died the Manor was split up and sold.
The Common of Southborough (now owned by the Town Council) has always been part of the Manor. It was initially around 30 acres larger but between 1790 and 1810 portions were enclosed so that the total area now is 71 acres. A number of persons have registered their rights as Commoners.
The valley to the east of Southborough made up part of the Royal Forest of Southfrith until the middle of the 16th century. It was set aside by Royalty for hunting. It was later found to be excellentl for iron smelting as the ore lay close to the surface and could be extracted from ‘bell pits’. Near Mote Farm in Vauxhall Lane a water-powered furnace known as Vauxhall Furnace was established and the iron smelted there was worked at a forge near the viaduct in Powder Mill Lane.
The forge continued working until the 18th century when the making of iron became too expensive and in 1771 the site was taken over for gunpowder manufacturing thus the name Powder Mill Lane. The Mill was devastated shortly afterwards by a large explosion but was replaced and continued making gun powder. By 1845 a cornmill had been put up on the site and this was known as Broakes Mill. It continued working until 1942 when it was demolished.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century most of the employment in Southborough was based around agriculture together with the associated and needed trades of blacksmiths, harness makers and coach builders. The town was made up of a number of remote hamlets including Nonsuch Green, Holden Corner, Modest Corner and a few houses situated near the Common. The town was now becoming famous for the manufacture of cricket balls! The first recorded makers were Philip Wickham and Joseph Smith of Modest Corner. Other cricket ball makers included Thomas Twort and John Martin in 1853.
Southborough began to expand rapidly from 1879 when the Holden Estate was sold and laid out to contain 165 new houses. Southborough separated from Tonbridge in 1871 when its own Board of Health was formed. In 1874 it became an Urban District Council with its own elected Council to look after its affairs and continued to do so until 1974 when local government was reorganised.
When you visit Southborough there many places in the surrounding area to go and see:
GroombridgePlaceGardens and EnchantedForest on Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, is set in 200 acres. These award-winning gardens feature a series of beautiful seventeenth century walled gardens set against the dreamy backdrop of a moated manor house.
On Castle Street, Tonbridge, is TonbridgeCastle reputedly one of England's best examples of a Motte and Bailey castle with a splendid thirteenth century gatehouse. Tel: +44 01732 770929.
If you want to combine a stunning house and gardens in one visit go to Penshurst Place and Gardens.
SpaValley Railway at West Station, Tunbridge Wells is a steam railway running through gorgeous countryside between Tunbridge Wells and Groombridge.
In The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, is the Chalybeate Spring, an historic spring, originally discovered in the seventeenth century, where the Chalybeate spring waters are still served to visitors by a costumed dipper.
TunbridgeWellsMuseum and ArtGallery in the Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant, Tunbridge Wells, is where you can enjoy wonderful collections of costume, art, dolls and toys. They also have exceptional natural and local history, from dinosaur bones to the original 'pantiles'.
At Salomans Centre, David Salomans Estate, Broomhill Road, Tunbridge Wells, is David Salomons House. This was constructed by Burton for Sir David Salomon and was the first house in Britain to use domestic electricity. Two rooms are open and contain family memorabilia.
Lloyds Tsb Bank Plc, 151 London Road 0845 300 0000
NatWest, 85 London Road 0845 610 1202
Tonbridge Cottage Hospital, Vauxhall Lane, TonbridgeTN11 0NE
St Andrews Medical Centre, PinewoodGardens, Southborough 01892 515455
Southborough Dental Practice, 40 London Road 01892 528048
Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015