Chalybeate springs at Tunbridge Wells: site of a 17th-century new town
Among Wealden towns Tunbridge Wells is comparatively new. Before the Civil Wars of the 1640s there was no village here, nor any name on a map. Chance finding of chalybeate springs a few miles south of Tunbridge (now Tonbridge) attracted attention at Court, and even gynaecological interest. Curiously, this provides explanations both for the supposed virtues of the waters and the founding of a summer resort. By repute, the springs were discovered in 1606, though this story was already 160 years old before it first appeared in print. Verifiable facts indicate that Thomas Neale, FRS, (1641–1699) was the main agent in organizing the nascent resort’s amenities, beginning in 1676 with plans to construct a chapel or assembly room. The springs themselves issue from Lower Cretaceous Wealden beds, a few feet above the Wadhurst Clay, in a shallow valley formed by the headwaters of the River Grom. Siderite (iron carbonate or chalybite) abounds in these formations.
Figures & Tables
The collection of papers in this volume records the development of hydrogeology in Britain over the last 200 years. Following the application, by William smith, of stratigraphic principles to the sinking of wells, Victorian engineers and scientists established groundwater as a major contributor to public water supplies. In the twentieth century, the development of groundwater continued rapidly, controlled by an ever-changing regulatory regime. The 25 papers in this volume review the progrss which has been made, and the lives and work of some of those who were intimately involved.