Town’s parks continue to fly the flag for local green spaces

Town's parks continue to fly the flag for local green spaces

Dunorlan Park, Calverley Grounds, Grosvenor & Hilbert Park, Woodbury Park Cemetery, St John’s Recreation Ground and The Grove have been awarded the Green Flag Award – the international quality mark for parks and green spaces for the management

Dunorlan Park and Grosvenor & Hilbert Park have also achieved the Green Heritage Site Accreditation, supported by Historic England, for the management of its historic features.

The winners of the 2022 awards were announced on July 26 and the town’s parks join a record-breaking 2,208 other winners across the UK.

Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark, added: “These Green Flag awards are thoroughly deserved, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council puts a lot of effort into maintaining these glorious open spaces and it is right that those efforts continue to be recognised.”

Cabinet member Councillor Wendy Fitzsimmons said: “How fantastic to have our parks recognised in this way once again. The Council team and contractors do a great job.

“These awards are also a credit to the Friends of our beautiful parks. Together these groups do amazing things and I hope they will take huge satisfaction in having their work appreciated.

“Our parks are important, not only as the lungs of our town, but as places to find peace, walk our dogs and let our children run! They offer something for everyone as well as being beautiful green spaces.”

This is just another award to add to Tunbridge Wells’ list of horticultural trophies – most recently, the town won Gold in the Large Town category of South and South-East in Bloom in 2021.





The Grove is truly a park of the people. In 1803, the owner of the park – the Earl of Buckingham – ensured that the woodland would be preserved forever for the use of the town’s residents.

Clare MacAdie, Chair for The Grove said: “The Grove is a vital green space for the residents living around this beautiful park.

“Retaining the Green Flag Award is testament to the endeavours of volunteers, the council and contractors who work together to maintain the character of the Grove.”

The park was originally designed as a place for the people of Tunbridge Wells to rest in the shade while visiting the spa at Sion Hill.

However, over time the number of original oak trees have depleted, and more exotic species were planted during the restoration which was needed after the great storm of 1987.

Now, the park is a hub for the local community, hosting events including a woodland walk and has been home to a play park since 1899.



One of Tunbridge Wells’ oldest parks, Grosvenor and Hilbert Park was designed by Victorian landscape artist Robert Marnock in 1889.

Some of the original features are still there today, including the Marnock Lake and the grottoes or ‘dripping wells’.

Carolyn Gray, Chair of Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park shared how the group was feeling about the award: “We are really pleased the park gained a Green Flag again this year, as well as being awarded the Green Heritage Site accreditation for a second year.

“Our park is very focused on the local community, and we’d like to say a big thanks to both the staff at TWBC, at KHWP, and Tony Cheeseman (our park keeper, from Tivoli) for working alongside us to maintain high standards in the park.”

The Park’s community focus has earned the attention of other national awards, and in 2020, Grosvenor and Hilbert was also one of the 135 recipients of a share from the £254 million ‘Parks for People’ restoration fund run by the The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

Grosvenor and Hilbert also has its own historic bowling green, used by Grosvenor Bowls Club for over 100 years.



The biggest and perhaps liveliest park in Tunbridge Wells, Dunorlan – like Grosvenor and Hilbert Park – was designed in the 1850s and 60s by Victorian landscaper, Robert Marnock.

It was originally the private grounds of Henry Reed, who hailed from Yorkshire and made his fortune in Tasmania.

Today, Dunorlan is the outdoor venue for much of the town’s social calendar including Pub in the Park, Soapbox Race and Parkrun.

Dunorlan is the other of the town’s parks (alongside Grosvenor and Hilbert) which achieved the Green Heritage Site Accreditation for the management of its historic features.

Peter Russell, Chair of the Friends of Dunorlan Park told the Times: “The Friends of Dunorlan Park is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year since its formation in 1997.

“The initial purpose of the Friends was to advise TWBC (Tunbridge Wells Borough Council) on the application for Heritage Lottery Funding and, when this was successful, to help with the subsequent redesign of the park.

“Over the years, the Friends have worked closely with TWBC and we have often funded or part-funded project work which might not otherwise have been carried out.”

In 2003 to 2004 the park underwent a major restoration costing £2.8million, following a Heritage Lottery Fund award of £2.1million.




The land for St John’s Recreation Ground was acquired in 1899, making it a glimpse into the past for

It has baseball courts, tennis courts, and a bowling club to attract users of all ages.

Alongside these, there is a water and sand play area for younger children, and a field with access to the woodland for dog walkers.



Nestled in the centre of Tunbridge Wells town sits Calverley Grounds.

The park is Grade 2 and Grade 2* listed and was originally part of the Decimus Burton development of Calverley New Town, exclusively for private residents.

It opened to the public in the 1920s and now, the park boasts a range of facilities including three tennis courts, two netball courts, one basketball court, three croquet lawns, a café and an adventure play area.

Today, the park is a hive of activity throughout the year and plays host to a multitude of events including the Mela festival, Local and Live and the Ice Rink over the winter months.

Cllr Nicholas Pope, former Chair of the Friends of Calverley Grounds said of the award: “The Friends of Calverley Grounds is really pleased Calverley Grounds has, once again, been awarded a Green Flag.

“It is really important for the town centre park which is used by so many people, residents, visitors and people who work in the town.

“The Green Flag demonstrates the hard work that the council’s parks department, contractors and the park’s friends group put into looking after the park.”



Unlike the other Green Flag Award winners, Woodbury Park is a Grade II listed cemetery with graves dating back to the Victorian era.

It was opened in 1849 after the Trinity Church (now Trinity Theatre) ran out of space in its own churchyard.

It only took until the 1870s for the the new cemetery to reach capacity. From then on, only interments of people who had relatives in existing graves were allowed.

The final internment was in 1934 of Miss Maria Hake from Hanover who was a teacher at Hamilton House School in Amherst Road.

The cemetery was listed by the English Heritage in 2003.

Carolyn Auckland, who is a member of the Friends group that looks after the green space told the Times that Woodbury Park Cemetery was ‘a haven of tranquillity restored and maintained brilliantly by the Friends’.

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