Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003599
Date first listed: 11-Mar-1953
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2018 at 16:15:43.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Tonbridge and Malling (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TQ 58973 46852, TQ 59070 46880, TQ 59253 46743
The medieval town defences of Tonbridge
Reasons for Designation
Between the Roman and post-medieval periods a large number of English Towns were provided with defences. Construction of these reached its peak in around 1300 although many were then maintained for many centuries thereafter. The defences could take the form of earthen banks, ditches or masonry walls or a combination of all three. They were constructed to mark the limits of the town or its intended size and could be used to defend the town in times of trouble. Their symbolic role in marking out the settlement and its importance was also significant and thus many defensive circuits included well built and visually impressive water-filled moats, walls and gateways. In the medieval period the development of towns was closely associated with major landowners and many towns were deliberately established next to major castles so that their lordly owners could influence and gain from the important market, trade and other functions of the developing urban centres. Despite damage in the past, the medieval town defences of Tonbridge survive well as a visible feature in the landscape. The defences will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the walls and the landscape in which they were constructed.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 19 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the medieval town defences of Tonbridge, in three separate areas of protection, surviving as earthworks and below-ground remains. They are situated on gently sloping ground north of the River Medway and Tonbridge Castle. The earthworks include a bank with external ditch. The bank is approximately 10m wide and up to about 4.5m high. The ditch has partly become in-filled in the past where it instead survives as a buried feature approximately 6m wide and 2.5m deep. There are two lengths of the northern defences of the medieval town. Here the ditch is on the northern side of the bank. One runs ENE from Stratford Road to Lansdown road. A second length runs from Landsdown road to the High Street. The defences in this second length have been partially mutilated or levelled following development, where they will instead survive as buried remains. A length of the eastern defences of the medieval town survives to the south-east of St Peter and St Paul’s Church. It lies in the rear gardens of The Cedars and The Hermitage (No.22 East Street) and runs south, beginning in the vicinity of Bordyke, towards East Street. Here the ditch is to the east of the bank.
In 1259 Henry III granted licence to enclose the town of Tonbridge with a wall, and to crenellate it. The wall is no longer thought to survive. However remains of the defensive bank and ditch are still visible and the generally course of the town defences has been traced. The enclosure is completed by the River Medway on the south and a tributary stream, Hilden Brook, on the west. Some of the water from the latter may have been diverted to fill part, at least, of the ditch. The defences are recorded on Ordnance Survey maps (1:2500) of 1867, 1897 and 1908. They were partially excavated in 1976 and the bank was shown to comprise of clay, partly extracted from the ditch.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: KE 136
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Kent HER TQ 54 NE3. NMR TQ 54 NE3. PastScape 409300,
Kent OS Maps (1:2500): 1867, 1897, 1908 and 1936,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing