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.
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:
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.
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.
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.