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outdoor seating outside the Ragged Trousers brasserie in the Pantiles

A Complete Guide to The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells History, Attractions, Shopping, and Eating Out

With annual festivals, open-air market stalls, and many charming boutiques, restaurants, and cocktail bars lining the iconic colonnaded walkway, the Pantiles is undoubtedly one of the most memorable places to visit in Tunbridge Wells.

So, let’s take a brief promenade across time together as we uncover the history of this Georgian wonder. If you’re strapped for time — skip below to our comprehensive guide to the Pantiles, jam-packed with all the essential need-to-knows, including information about upcoming events, markets, and festivals, and the best bars, shops, and places to eat in the Pantiles in this year!

A Brief History of the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells

The Pantiles sprung to life back in the 17th century when it was originally built as a promenade for visitors to take the waters at the nearby Chalybeate (pronounced Ka-lee-bee-at) Spring. The spring itself was discovered in 1606 by Dudley Lord North during the reign of King James I.

The story goes that the young nobleman, Lord North, was feeling the worse for wear on his journey from Eridge to London when he stopped to drink from the reddish-brown water. Feeling remarkably rejuvenated, Lord North declared that the naturally iron-rich water had healing properties.

Originally known as The Walks, the colonnaded walkway (today known as the Pantiles) was built around this natural spring water. If you’re wondering where the name The Pantiles comes from, in 1699, one-inch-thick square tiles made of Wealden clay were used to pave the promenade. These tiles were shaped in a wooden pan before firing — this is where the term “pan-tiles” comes from.

News of Lord North’s discovery quickly spread amongst the gentry, and the area became a popular destination for visitors seeking the water’s healing properties.

The pantiles: a fashionable destination for ladies and gents

In 1735, Richard “Beau” Nash—celebrated dandy and leader of fashion—appointed himself as Master of Ceremonies in Tunbridge Wells. Beau Nash had a significant impact on the development and popularity of Tunbridge Wells as a fashionable and thriving spa town in the 18th century. He organised elaborate events, promenades, concerts, and assemblies that attracted wealthy visitors to the town, helping to establish the town’s reputation as a desirable place to see and be seen among the upper classes of society.


The ladies and gentlemen of high society who visited The Wells would begin their day with a tumbler of water from the spring before promenading The Walks. They spent their evenings betting, dancing, and socialising.

Beau Nash’s influence on Tunbridge Wells is still celebrated, as demonstrated by the plaque on The Ragged Trousers pub and brasserie (no. 44 The Pantiles) — the site of the Master of Ceremonies’ headquarters.

Throughout the years, The Pantiles has been a hub of social activity in Tunbridge Wells, hosting events such as markets, concerts, and food and music festivals. Today, it remains a vibrant and bustling part of town with a wonderful variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Ultimate Guide to The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells

Visiting the Chalybeate Spring

You can visit the Chalybeate Spring in The Pantiles at any time to learn about its history. During the summer (when the water is flowing), you may even have the opportunity to taste the iron-rich waters for yourself! If you plan on making a special trip to the natural spa, we recommend contacting the visitor centre to find out if the water is flowing first.

Shopping in The Pantiles

The Pantiles is home to various independent, unique shops and boutiques where you can find everything from jewellery and antiques to fine arts, contemporary galleries, handmade gifts, homewares, and more!

1. Catherine Hills Jewellery

The award-winning jewellery designer and maker crafts bespoke and ready-to-wear items. She’s made jewellery for the Harry Potter films and Star Wars Solo.

2. Peter Jenner Jewellery

With several decades of experience, Peter Jenner crafts elegant bespoke pieces. You’ll also find a selection of ready-to-purchase fine jewellery by other select designers. 

3. The Diamond Setter Jewellery

For gifts, wedding and engagement rings, and bespoke items, The Diamond Setter is based at 39-41 The Pantiles.

4. Thurlwell’s Jewellery

Thurlwell’s specialises in hand-crafted unique jewellery, commissioned, designed, and manufactured on the premises using traditional methods. Find them at 6 Sussex Mews, The Pantiles.

5. HG Vintage Collectables Antiques

Hope & Glory Collectables stocks a range of weird and wonderful toys and collectables from the past. Visit the shop at 49 Lower Walk, The Pantiles, to pick out an extra unique gift! 

6. Jeroen Markies Art Deco Furniture

Specialising in Art Deco furniture, sculpture, and decorative arts, this shop features pieces by Chiparus, Lorenzl and Preiss, and furniture from Hille, Heal’s of London, Glass by Murano, and more. Find them in the Pantiles Arcade, 49 Lower Walk.  

7. Beumée Fine Art Gallery

Visit Beumée for original contemporary art, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, wall art and prints from prestigious artists worldwide. They are based at 50 The Upper Pantiles.

8. Fairfax Gallery

Exhibiting original contemporary paintings and sculptures from established, prestigious, and emerging artists alike, Fairfax Gallery is a must-visit for art lovers. Fairfax Gallery is located at 23 The Pantiles.

Restaurants, Eateries, and Pubs in the Pantiles

All that shopping is bound to leave you feeling a little peckish. Luckily, there’s no shortage of great places to eat in the Pantiles!

9. The Sussex Arms

Located on Sussex Mews, our pub — one of the oldest pubs in Tunbridge Wells — is just tucked away from the view of The Pantiles.

Front porch

The Sussex Arms hosts infamous quiz nights, open mic nights, retro video game nights, and live events, including music and comedy gigs.

For food, stop by on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for Rascal’s sourdough Pizzas, snacks, and burgers.

10. The Ragged Trousers

Based in The Pantiles, our sister pub provides a menu of authentic French-inspired brasserie food and traditional British pub food.

The Ragged Trousers is perfect for lunch or a coffee break, with outdoor seating on The Pantiles — ideal for soaking up the atmosphere. The Ragged also provides a children’s menu.

The charming brasserie transforms into a vibrant bar at night with its wide variety of craft beers, wine, and cocktails.

11. Eggs Eleven

Eggs Eleven specialise in breakfasts, brunch, and lunch with a menu of fry-ups, omelettes, sandwiches, toasties, and kids’ meals, served in a family-friendly environment.  

The Pantiles Events, Festivals, and Markets

12. Jazz on the Pantiles

Jazz on the Pantiles is an annual summer event. From May to September, jazz musicians take to the stage (The Pantiles bandstand) every Thursday night from 7pm to 10pm, with fantastic live performances to accompany summer drinking and dining on the Pantiles.

13. Gin & Jazz Festival

This popular free event combines one of the nation’s favourite drinks with live jazz music and entertainment. Enjoy sampling gin from around the world and browse over 100 products, including gin, wine, Champagne, and street food.

14. Sankey’s Fire & Feast Food Festival Sat. 18th and Sun. 19th May 2024 (11am–6pm)

This is an epic spring food festival where you’ll have the chance to enjoy over 500 products and flavours from over 30 local and national producers against a backdrop of live music and entertainment.

15. Pantiles Market

The Tunbridge Wells market runs bi-weekly on Saturdays and Sundays. The bustling market includes various stalls carrying local produce, treats, designer clothing, artisan crafts, and gifts.

Old World Charm, Modern Creativity

With its iconic Georgian architecture and the independent shops and cafés, this historic promenade offers a sense of old-world charm that can be difficult to capture today. From artisan markets to live music performances, there is always something exciting happening in The Pantiles.