Royal Tunbridge Wells
places are the same," General the Hon. Sir Charles Howard, at Bristol, informed Lord Carlisle, in July 1753. " It is an age of diversion and not staying at their own habitations." " I am told that London was never so deserted," so runs another letter, written in August 1769. " Many of the foreigners are at Tunbridge Wells in search of society." Many authorities could be quoted in support of this view, but further corroboration is needless, since the fact is well established and generally admitted.
Bath had ample accommodation for the company that flocked thither in the winter, but Tunbridge Wells at the beginning of the century was not in the same happy position. Building, however, proceeded apace; and the erstwhile hamlet now spread into the parishes of Tunbridge and Speldhurst in Kent, and Frant in Sussex, the counties at this spot being divided only by a narrow shallow stream, described by Samuel Derrick in 1772 as " very dirty." Mount Ephraim and Mount Sion were, as Defoe says, " agreeably cover'd by good Houses, fine Gardens, and Fruit Trees," and numerous mansions and cottages were erected in the immediate vicinity of the Pantiles. All 66