The end of an era for a former high street gem

Fran Taylor

Workmen were seen taking down the signage of former jewellers Payne & Son in Tunbridge Wells High Street last week after the shop was forced to close at the beginning of the year.

It marks the end of an era for the store, which has been occupied by the same business for 146 years and was known for having the honour of making the Tunbridge Wells’ mayoral chain.

The shop had starred in a number of advertisements over the years, the most famous being one for BT’s Talking Pages, when comedian John Cleese popped his head round the door and said: “Got any antique diamond rings?”

Michael Payne, the seventh generation of the family to still be linked to the business, still owns the building, which is set to reopen as the latest store in the Cornish clothing chain Seasalt.

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