Tonbridge Historical Society
In 1964 the Victorian Pump Room, which occupied the site of the earlier Union House, was demolished. The site remained undeveloped until May 1967 when the foundations for a large block of shops and offices were begun, and it was during this vast engineering project on the site that what were probably beams from an earlier building, several fragments of glass and the silt from some streams were found. Unfortunately all evidence was destroyed and only the glass and some other small items were extracted by the workmen. This was handed over to the local museum sometime afterwards but, with the co-operation of the ‘Clerk of the Works,’ a little has been learned from site logs. From these it is clear that the glass bottles and other small items, including two broken clay pipes (one style 1690-1730, the other 1710-1750) and the neck of a Bellarmine jug, were found at a depth of about 8 feet by a bulldozer working on grid 1/6 in the week ending 9th July, 1967.
The glass is of a thick opaque green type and the fragments are all of bottles, which fall into two main categories-some flagon shaped ones with short necks, the others cylindrical and of a later date (only the bases of these have been found but it is clear that the sides were more vertical than the flagon shaped ones). Only one complete flagon exists and bears an unidentified coat of arms consisting of a single Chevron between three birds which are too indistinct to show detail, but it is understood that, according to the College of Heralds, this type of crest is often associated with Welsh families. There is one other, semi-complete, but this is without the neck or crest. Both types of bottle are hand-blown and have been dated by the Victoria and Albert Museum as being of the late 17th/early 18th century (possibly 1680-1715); the cylindrical ones however are probably of a later date, when binning became more popular (possibly 1790’s). This suggests that they might have come from the old Union House, which is marked on John Bowra’s map of the Pantiles in 1738.
COPYRIGHT RESERVED. THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE Winter 1969 (ISSUE #18) EDITION OF THE KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIEW. PERMISSION SHOULD BE SOUGHT (IN WRITING) TO REPRODUCE OR QUOTE FROM ARTICLES IN THE K A R. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OPINIONS AND STATEMENTS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS TO THE K A R.