History of The Spa
A Brief History
The town of Tunbridge Wells was founded around the Chalybeate Spring discovered in 1606 by Dudley, Lord North, a courtier to James I. The high iron content of the waters was believed to have healing properties and the town developed as a Spa town. It was named after the nearby town of Tonbridge, which was at the time spelled "Tunbridge".
The similar names and alternative spellings have been a source of confusion ever since, especially to uninformed people travelling on the London-Hastings railway line. The spring can still be visited in the Pantiles area of the town, surrounded by Regency architecture.
The prefix "Royal" dates to 1909, when King Edward VII officially recognised the popularity of the town amongst royalty and aristocracy by bestowing the town with its official "Royal" title. To this day, Royal Tunbridge Wells is one of only two towns in England to be granted this, the other being Royal Leamington Spa.
Originally built in 1766 as a country mansion, the Hotel first opened its doors as "The Bishops Down Spa Hotel", named after the Spa town of Tunbridge Wells, in 1880. We are unsure exactly when the name was shortened to "The Spa Hotel", however it was purchased by O G Goring as The Spa Hotel in 1964 and remained with the family for over 40 years. In May 2007 The Spa was sold to Scragg Hotels Limited, a new company formed by the Scragg and Marston families. An extensive refurbishment programme commenced shortly afterwards.