Southborough, Kent

Southborough, Kent

infobox UK place

country = England
official_name= Southborough
population = 11,124 (2001 Census)
shire_district= Tunbridge Wells
shire_county = Kent
region= South East England

constituency_westminster= Tunbridge Wells
post_town= Tunbridge Wells
postcode_district = TN4
postcode_area= TN
dial_code= 01892
os_grid_reference= TQ585425
latitude= 51.1598

longitude= 0.2652

Southborough is a civil parish, with the title of "town" in the District of Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, England. It lies immediately to the north of Tunbridge Wells itself, with the A26 London road passing through it. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 11,124. The town is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Origin of name

After the Norman invasion, the area came within the domain of Tonbridge Castle, one of four boroughs to do so. This was the South Borough.


Southborough separated from Tonbridge in 1871 when its own Board of Health was formed Fact|date=February 2008. From then, until 1894, it was recreated to become an Urban district, with its own elected Council to manage its affairs. It retained that title until 1974, when local government reorganisation reverted its title to a civil parish. By historical accident, however, Southborough had a town council, which it has retained.

The Southborough Town Council consists of 18 members, from the three Town wards: North (seven councillors); West (six); and East (five). The posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected annually. As with a normal civil parish, its responsibilities are less than those of the borough. [ [ Southborough Town Council] ] The Town has its own grant of heraldry: they include reference to the cricket ball industry, and contain two sprigs of broom, alluding to High Brooms. [ [ Southborough Town Council arms ("inter alia"] ]

At the same time, Southborough is part of Tunbridge Wells borough: the three wards of that borough are Southborough and High Brooms (five councillors); Southborough North (seven); and Southborough West (six). [ [ Setting up parish wards, 2001] ] .


"The Southborough Society’’ [ [ The Southborough Society] ] (“the civic, heritage and amenity society for Southborough”) is the main source for many of the facts in this part of the article"

The remains of an Iguanadon (135 million years ago) was discovered in High Brooms. Before the first millennium AD the land here was heavily forested; however some significant finds have revealed that it was inhabited. Arrowheads and stone axe heads provide evidence of ‘’’prehistoric’’’ habitation of Southborough while burial sites from both the Bronze and Iron Ages have also been unearthed. The site of the Castle Hill Iron Age Fort, dating back to 315 BC, lies in the Eastern valley. Routes linking other forts are still part of the town’s road network. Little is then known about the district until the Norman Conquest as it was the most sparsely populated part of the Weald due to the almost impenetrable forest.

Richard Fitz Gilbert (later de Clare) was rewarded for his part in the conquest with land; [ [ Notes on other lands granted to Fitzgilbert] ] one such grant was the Lowey of Tunbridge, an area of land equating with the holdings of a manor, which covered some 20,660 acres (8347h) on the Weald and across the River Medway valley. He was also granted the right to build a castle at Tonbridge.

The Manor of Southborough was one part of the Lowey. Over the following seven hundred years it had a chequered history. After Richard de Clare, it was held by the Audley and Stafford families until 1521, when Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was beheaded on Tower Hill and the estates reverted to the Crown. Henry VIII gave the (now separated from Tonbridge) estate to George Boleyn, brother of Anne Boleyn, whose fate he also suffered. It was then passed to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who later exchanged it for other estates. Under Elizabeth I it had again reverted back to the Crown: she bestowed it on Sir Richard Sackville who sold it to Thomas Smythe of Westernhanger. He was commonly known as Customer Smythe, a “farmer” of the collection of customs and excise dues. In 1790 when Lady Smythe died the Manor was split up and sold; the Manor House of Great Bounds and the Manorial rights being purchased by the Earl of Darnley who in turn parted with it to James Alexander.

The whole area was part of the Royal forest of Southfrith until about the middle of the 16th century, reserved by royalty for hunting. The settlement consisted of a number of isolated hamlets including Nonsuch Green, Holden Corner, Modest Corner and a few houses near the Common. High Brooms was a desolate tract inhabited by Gypsies and vagabonds.

Industrial Southborough

Iron had been worked in the area since prehistoric times, since the underlying rock (the iron-rich sandstone of the Hastings Beds which make up the Weald) provided the raw material. From the mid 16th century onwards there were a number of water-powered furnaces on the two streams running through the village: one at Modest Corner; and three on the Southborough Bourne. The latter included the Vauxhall Furnace, operating from at least 1552, near MoteFarm in in what is now Vauxhall Lane: and the Brook (Broakes) Mill opened in 1553. The rock was dug from “bell pits”, and iron smelted here was worked at a forge nearby.

The forges probably continued working until the 18th century when the making of iron became uneconomical and in 1771 the sites was taken over for gunpowder manufacturing hence the name Powder Mill Lane. The Mill blew up shortly afterwards but was replaced and continued manufacturing gun powder. By 1845 a cornmill had been erected on the site, which continued in operation until 1942 when it was demolished. There are now no traces of any industrial workings on the site.

Apart from that heavy industrial employment, people in Southborough were mainly occupied in agriculture, textiles and transport: trades such as blacksmiths, coach builders and harness makers.

With cricket being played on the Common, it is perhaps logical that the town became renowned for the manufacture of cricket balls. The first recorded makers were Philip Wickham and Joseph Smith of Modest Corner and many other cricket ball makers set up business including Thomas Twort and John Martin in 1853.

Southborough began to expand rapidly from 1879 when the Holden Estate was sold and laid out to accommodate 165 new dwellings. The High Brooms Brick and Tile Company started to build houses for its employees and the area expanded: it is now an industrial estate.

outhborough Common

The Common of Southborough (now owned by the Town Council) has always been part of the Manorial Holding. It was originally around 30 acres larger but between 1790 and 1810 portions were enclosed so that the total area now is 71 acres. Under the Commons Registration Act of 1965 a number of persons registered their rights as Commoners.

In 2003 the whole area of the Common - a conservation area - was the subject of an appraisal by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. The appraisal report seeks to retain the historical significance of the Common and its immediate area. [ [ SouthboroughConservation Area Appraisal] Tunbridge Wells District Council]

Cricket has been played on the Common for over 200 years.


On 18 October 1992 Southborough twinned with the town of Lambersart, France. The Twinning Charter signed by both towns formally resolved to honour the twinning relationship by establishing and maintaining friendly relations with each other, to foster and develop mutual understanding and respect between the people of their respective administrative areas, to favour all kinds of links between the two regions especially in the educational and cultural fields, to encourage exchange visits and to develop human and cultural relationships ad establish a firm foundation for future understanding, respect and friendship their people for all time. To celebrate five years of twinning on 18 October 1997 Lambersart Close on the new Barnetts Wood housing estate was officially unveiled followed by a reception at the Salomons Estate.


Southborough has long been associated with sport. Cricket has been played on the common for over 200 years, as well as being a centre for cricket ball manufacture. Southborough has three football clubs, the largest of these is Ridgewaye FC.

Ridgewaye F.C. formed in 1995. It is the largest youth organisation in SouthboroughFact|date=March 2008. It has been an FA Charter Standard Development Club for the past five years [since January 2003] . The membership consists of boys and girls aged from six to eighteen years of age who train of Saturday mornings at the Ridgewaye fields, off Yew Tree Road, Southborough.

In January 2008 the club had a membership of two hundred and eighty nine children.

Recent development of the club involved the restoration of the Old Ridgewaye School Gym, which had suffered vandalism and fire damage ten years ago. This is an ongoing project to offer changing rooms, toilets, a kitchen and rest room facilities with a planned completion, subject to funding, within the next year.

The club is managed by the Club Committee, consisting of 12 members who meet on a monthly basis to discuss financial, social, FA and playing matters.

The new web site was established in January 2008.

External links



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