This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Town banks

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Town banks

List entry Number: 1003599


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Tonbridge and Malling

District Type: District Authority


National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 11-Mar-1953

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM - OCN

UID: KE 136

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.


See Details


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.

Selected Sources

Kent HER TQ 54 NE3. NMR TQ 54 NE3. PastScape 409300,
Kent OS Maps (1:2500): 1867, 1897, 1908 and 1936,

National Grid Reference: TQ 58973 46852, TQ 59070 46880, TQ 59253 46743


© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1003599 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Aug-2018 at 06:08:29.

End of official listing