Tunbridge Wells Heritage Open Days 2012 - Schools at Somerhill, Tudeley Road, Tonbridge, TN11 0NJ

The Schools at Somerhill, Five Oak Green Road, Tonbridge

This Grade I listed historic Jacobean mansion, the work of the architect John Thorpe, is celebrating its four hundredth birthday in 2011. The mansion was from the early years of the seventeenth century the South Frith Manor House. The manorial domain included what is now Tunbridge Wells, the eastern part of Southborough and present day High Brooms. From the seventeenth century, the house and its estate were closely linked to the development of Tunbridge Wells and the neighbouring area. Over the centuries it has seen great families come and go and is now home to a group of three independent schools.

The mansion house is the second largest house in Kent after Knole, with over two hundred rooms. In the late seventieth century it boasted fifty five fire places. Today, the attractive Long Gallery - the second longest in the county - gives fine views onto the garden and the pavilion designed by Sir Hugh Casson. The finely decorated ceilings and panelling are particularly notable.

Set in one hundred and fifty acres of garden and parkland with lovely views of the countryside, this venue is a registered Historic Park and Garden, therefore of national importance. A section of the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk is signposted from the house towards All Saints Church in Tudeley Church, following a route through the historic estate. The former servants’ hall, Goldsmid Hall, is also opening for Heritage Open Days.

This fine historic building was nearly lost beyond repair during the 1980’s through speculation, bureaucratic wrangling and lack of proper recognition of its heritage and potential. Now visitors have a chance to see how it is possible for a very large historic house and its grounds to be restored and reused – a project which is regarded as a triumph for those involved over recent decades.

Sunday 9th September 1400-1700

Very limited disabled access as the building has multiple levels

Parking including disabled adjacent

Toilets (not disabled)