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Published on August 24th, 2016 | by Perrin


Heritage Open Days

By Carolyn Gray

A clash of old and new, as points of interest are high-lighted in both a popular phone app, and a weekend of heritage.

Pokemon Go players should thank the original augmented-reality game players of Ingress for establishing so many culturally significant portals within Grosvenor and Hilbert Park. These have gone on to become Pokestops and a Gym, and we have seen lots of new visitors to the park, mainly with heads down on their phones, but often looking around themselves. All these portals were set up a couple of years ago, before our current Heritage Lottery Funded work. The John Stone Wigg memorial has now been moved and can be found at Rochdale gates, not Auckland Road. However, it’s nice that the art at Grosvenor Bridge is now fully incorporated into the park, with the building of a new staircase. Another Pokestop is the now Hub and Table8 cafe, and this is where The Friends will be hosting their Heritage Open Days.

Since 2012 we have joined in at St Barnabas Church for the weekend, adding our own information to the brilliant display by Geoffrey Copus. Now we have the new Hub we have decided to have our own display, as well as a guided walk. We are hoping people who haven’t yet seen the improvement works will use this as an opportunity to come along. We also urge you to visit St Barnabas church and school while you are in the area!

John Stone Wigg is an important part of the park history, as it is thanks to his efforts, and donation of four acres of land, that the public park was established in 1889. During this era, Tunbridge Wells was progressing from a summer holiday spa resort, towards a place of all year residence. This is the time of retired Indian colonels and ladies of independent means, as The Calverley New Town expanded at the top of Mount Pleasant hill. John Stone Wigg was one of these incomers, although he lived in Rusthall. He was a benefactor of St Paul’s church Rusthall, as well as St Barnabas church, school, and both Grosvenor Recreation Ground and St John’s Recreation Ground (finished after he died in 1897). He had been Chairman of the Local Board since 1878, and when Tunbridge Wells became a Borough in 1889, he became the first Mayor.

It is assumed he knew Robert Marnock, another Rusthall resident, and asked him to work on the landscaping of the new Grosvenor Recreation Ground, working around the existing lakes and slopes. We’ll have lots of information, maps and photos in our display, including photos of the swimming pool.

Other Heritage Open Day locations also feature in Pokemon Go – Trinity Theatre and The Adult Education Centre are just two. I’m hoping Pokemon hunters are finding out some new things, and maybe when you catch a ‘Gastly’ it’s the ghost of a Victorian benefactor shining back down on you….

With thanks to Geoffrey Copus, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society book “400 Years of The Wells”, and James Gray for Pokemon Go knowledge.



Based on a mid 19th Century  painting by Charles Tattershall Dodd featuring the Rusthall Common end of Lower Green Road to form the Exhibition including details of subsequently built properties and prepared by Rusthall Local History Group for Heritage


The Church and displays open for viewing, free admission:

Thursday 8th and Friday 9th September   2pm – 4 pm

Saturday 10th September   10 am – 12 noon and 3.30 pm – 5 pm

Sunday 11th September  2 pm – 5 pm


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