TUNBRIDGE, or Tonbridge, a town of Kent, England, is situated on rising ground above the Medway, and on the South-Eastern Railway, 41 miles (by rail) south-east of London and 33 north-west of Hastings. The Medway is crossed by a stone bridge, erected in 1775. The town consists chiefly of one long main street and a large number of suburban villas. The church of St Peter and St Paul, chiefly Decorated and Perpendicular with some portions of an earlier date, has lately been restored. The grammar school, founded by Sir Andrew Judd, an alderman of London, in the 1st year of Edward VI., was rebuilt in 1865, remodelled in 1880, and extended in 1887. Among other public buildings are the town hall and market house, the public hall, and the free library. Some traffic is carried on by the Medway, which has been made navigable for barges. Tunbridge ware, chiefly sold at Tunbridge Wells, is largely manufactured. There are gunpowder mills on the banks of the Medway; and wool-stapling, brewing, and tanning are carried on. The population of the urban sanitary district (area 1200 acres) in 1871 was 8209 and in 1881 it was 9317.
Tunbridge owed its early importance to the castle built by Richard, earl of Clare, in the reign of Henry I. The castle was besieged by William Rufus, was taken by John in the wars with the barons, and again by Prince Edward, son of Henry III. Subsequently it became the property of the Staffords, and on the attainder of the duke of Buckingham in the reign of Henry VIII. was taken possession of by the crown. It was dismantled during the Civil War. The remains now consist chiefly of a finely preserved gateway flanked by two round towers. Formerly it was defended by three moats, one of them formed by the Medway. The lords of the castle had the right of attending the archbishops of Canterbury on state occasions as chief butlers.