King Charles the Martyr, Tunbridge Wells

The Parish Church of King Charles the Marty, Tunbridge Wellsr

Princess Victoria

Queen Victoria, one of history’s most celebrated monarchs, reigned as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for 63 years (1837-1901),  Britain’s second-longest-reigning sovereign. As a young girl, Victoria visited King Charles Church in Tunbridge Wells.

 

Princess Victoria riding her donkey in Tunbridge Wells in 1822

In the 1830s, the young Princess Victoria was a frequent visitor to Tunbridge Wells. She would visit with with her mother, the Duchess of Kent and Strathearn, and they would stay at Mount Pleasant house (now the Hotel du Vin) on Crescent Road, and Boyne House on Mount Ephraim.

The young Victoria enjoyed riding her pet donkey, called Flower, along Church Road, and attended the races on the Common.

On a walk through the town, Victoria and her mother came across a man selling parrots. Victoria wrote of the encounter:

 

“Amongst them was one dear little paroquet of a green colour with a pale brown head and so very tame that mamma took it on her finger and it would hardly leave her. It talks also, the man says. Mamma bought the dear little thing it is now in Mamma’s room.”

 

A contemporary sketch of Princess Victoria in the North Gallery

In 1835, then aged 16, Princess Victoria attended worship at King Charles Church with her mother. The pair sat together in the North Gallery.

At this time, the church was ordered differently and this seat was at the front of the church, overlooking the preacher in a big three-decker pulpit that formerly stood against the west wall.

 

The brass plaque commemorating Victoria's visit

A brass plaque commemorating Victoria’s visit is attached to the panelling next to her seat. There is also a framed sketch by an anonymous member of the congregation at the time.

Less than two years after Victoria’s visit, King William IV was dead and Victoria, aged only 18, had ascended to the throne.

 

Victoria in her official Diamond Jubilee photograph by W. & D. Downey

During her reign of 63 years and seven months, Queen Victoria presided over a period of great industrial and cultural change and great expansion of the British Empire, and adopted the title Empress of India from 1876.

The Royal Opera House in Tunbridge Wells was opened to mark Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1896.