Over four hundred years young and still going strong. A proud boast that few can match. The chalybeate spring (ka-lee-bee-at) is an iron rich mineral spring found on the Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Its rejuvenative properties have been disputed over the years but are said to cure the usual hangover (it doesn't work, trust me), stomach ails, infertility and the like. In fact, just about anything people were suffering from at the time. A nice little earner.
You can still take the waters but only for a few months of the year. And ring the Tourist Office before visiting. Tunbridge Wells has suffered over the years and they might not be open. A shame really considering its history and prominence in the town.
I have copied the spring's history from the information board pictured:
Dudley Lord North, a young nobleman, discovered the spring in c.1606 and taking the waters soon became fashionable. By 1619 'the Wells' had become a popular meeting place for royalty and the aristocracy.
By 1676, a flourishing village had grown up around the Spring, with a number of London shopkeepers taking residence along the Upper Walks for the summer season.
The Bath House was built over the spring about 1804, to a design by J. T. Groves. It originally contained vapour, shower and hot and cold baths using the spring waters. 'Dippers' served from the Chalybeate water for drinking from the basin over the spring. In 1847 the columns and the portico were added but the baths soon fell into disuse and by 1857 the eastern wing had been removed and replaced by a shop front.
The Bath House façade was restored again in 1987. The Chalybeate Spring waters are still dispensed by the 'dipper' from Easter until the end of September.