Park life

Sixteen years ago I came to live in Tunbridge Wells and from the start I was fascinated by Dunorlan Park. Living nearby I saw it almost daily and marvelled at the everchanging effects of weather and seasons on its beauty. Then there are the many and diverse events staged there throughout the year.

The park has been described as 'The Jewel in the Crown of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council', an accolade now even more deserved since the Restoration was completed recently. When the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council acquired the Dunorlan Estate in 1945 it was in a state of great neglect!

The Council set aside 30 acres of the estate for a public open space and during the next few years footpaths were created and new gates, fences and bridges erected. Then boating on the lake began. Thus the Park continued to evolve until the Hurricane of 1987 caused a lot of damage necessitating much clearing and planting of new trees.

Over the years the popularity of the Park has increased and in 1996 a regular and enthusiastic user of the Park, the late Peter Reynolds, founded the friends of Dunorlan Park dedicated to its restoration, preservation and development. He was particularly keen to see the Fountain and Cascade restored and was the inspiration and driving force behind the successful bid for Heritage Lottery funds. This, together with the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and the Friends, enabled the restoration to be done and has further increased the popularity of the park.

So successful has the restoration been that the contractors, ISS Waterers Landscape, won an award and the National Landscape Awards for its work. In addition the Friends of Dunorlan Park, jointly with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, won a Conservation award from Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society for the restoration of the Cascade and Fountain.

There will always be ongoing work to be done and in addition to planting and pruning and daily maintenance there are plans to restore the inside of the Grecian Temple. Also, the Victoria Cross Grove is to be enhanced as part of the 400th Anniversary Celebrations. How fortunate we are to have this Jewel of a Park in Tunbridge Wells.

D.B. Barnes