It stands 400 feet above sea level, and has a fine common, with outcrops of grey sandstone.
Until the early 17th century, there was no town here, only a few farms and cottages among the Wealden forest. But in 1606, Lord North discovered a chalybeate spring, and from then visitors started to come. Queen Henrietta Maria camped on the common.
Building started in earnest in 1638, when a grassy promenade called The Walk was laid out beside the spring. Later, this was paved with tiles, leading to its more familiar name, The Pantiles.
In 1735, Beau Nash arrived from Bath to be Master of Ceremonies.
Much of the charm of Tunbridge Wells stems from its elegant 18th and 19th century buildings, including a number by Decimus Burton.
King Charles the Martyr Church dates from the late 17th century, and has a fine plasterwork ceiling. It boasts a pew regularly occupied by the young Princess Victoria.
Among the prominent people born in Tunbridge Wells are David Gower, England cricketer; and Tyrone Guthrie, theatre producer.
"Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" is a now traditional way of describing a person of deeply held conservative values.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Tunbridge Wells for groups.