Pan-tiles of 1700

Contributed by Tunbridge Wells Museum

These particular tiles - almost an inch thick - were used for paving a famous Georgian colonnade in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Originally called The Walks, the colonnade is now better known as The Pantiles, after the paving tiles which were put down in 1699.

In 1698 Princess Anne donated a hundred pounds for The Walks to be paved after her son, The Duke of Gloucester, fell over on slippery ground. When she returned the following year to find the work not done, she vowed never to return. Belatedly, paving was laid using square ceramic tiles made from the same heavy Wealden clay that had made the ground so waterlogged and slippery in the first place. The tiles were known as pan-tiles because they were shaped in a wooden pan before firing.

These unusual clay pan-tiles were replaced with harder-wearing stone flags in 1792. However, ceramic paving retains its popularity in Tunbridge Wells with the widespread use of bricks as a paving material throughout the town from early Victorian times right up to the present day.

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