Tunbridge Wells Common and Rusthall Common
Tunbridge Wells is in the County of Kent and approximately 30 miles south of London. The two Commons are situated to the south west of the town centre and extend to 104 hectares (256 acres). Although the land is owned by the Manor of Rusthall (the title is now held by Targetfollow (Pantiles) Ltd), it is managed by Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators in accordance with the provisions of the County of Kent Act 1981
, and is funded by the Borough Council. The Act ensures free public access over both Commons subject to certain bylaws. The relevant sections of this and the Tunbridge Wells Improvement Act 1890
can be read by following the links. The Commons are famous for their sandstone outcrops such as the Toad Rock and the Wellington Rocks and have played an important part in the history and development of Tunbridge Wells.
Historically, the Commons developed as lowland heath and until the end of the 19th Century it would have had almost no tree cover except for those trees deliberately planted, often to mark Royal visits. In the early 20th century the grazing that had maintained the landscape for many centuries died out, leaving scrub woodland to develop, obscuring the well known views and shading out the heather and gorse that sustained the many specialised insects and animals that lived there. The hurricane of 1987 was the catalyst for a re-examination of the management of the Commons and the birth of the management plan that is currently being followed to reopen parts of the Commons and regain some of the heathland. This plan will shortly be available on the website.
Steve Budden is the Commons Warden (he and his dog, Jade, will be a familiar figure to many of you) and he manages all the work undertaken on both commons. The regular work includes the contract maintenance for grass cutting and litter clearance and improvement work throughout the year. Steve also oversees specific improvement projects called for by the Management Plan such as pond restoration, clearance of rock out crops and the gradual opening up of areas on both commons.
If you want to know more, this website has both short and detailed histories of the Commons and of the Freehold Tenants on the History
page. We can also offer information on the current Management
of the Commons and on our Future Vision
for their long term management. You can also find out information about the Conservators
, their meetings, etc.
And don't forget the Photo Gallery
where pictures are added at least seasonally, and often more frequently.
Page last updated: 10/08/2016