Mote Park, Maidstone

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent, UK

The Romney Pavillion looking sorry for itself with Mote House beyond.

During the course of the American War of Independence (1775-1783) , in November 1778, George III reviewed the 15,000 soldiers who were then encamped at Coxheath.

It was an occasion on which he received an address from the Corporation of Maidstone and conferred a knighhood on William Bishop, the mayor.

The Revolutionary War against France ((1793-1802) was continuing when, on 1 August 1799, a rather more elaborate review of the Kentish Volunteers took place at Mote Park, which was the home of Earl Romney, the Lord Lieutenant of Kent. The Volunteers were part-time soldiers who could be called out to maintain internal order anywhere in the country, if this was necessary, or in the event of an invasion by the French.

More than 5,000 troops were present and the largest single unit was the Maidstone Volunteers with 267 men.

The troops marched through the town with drums beating, bands playing and colours flying, whilst their hats were adorned with oak sprigs. The Town Hall was illuminated by varied colour lamps together with depictions of the king and his crown. The Mitre coffee-house opposite had a display in honour of the Royal Navy since the day was the anniversary of the Nelson’s victorious battle of the Nile at which he destroyed the French fleet. Every window in the town was decorated and many of the 20,000 or more spectators had, perforce, to stay up all night, since every bit of accommodation in the town had been taken.

The King arrived on his grey charger, accompanied by Queen Charlotte, the royal princes and princesses, and senior government ministers led by William Pitt, the Prime Minister. At Mote Park the troops marched past the royal visitors and a mock fight took place.

The royal family were served dinner in one grand marquee and the government ministers in another. Dinner was provided for 5258 Volunteers at tables on which principal items were 60 lambs, 700 fowls, 300 hams, 300 tongues, 220 dishes of boiled beef, 220 dishes of roast beef, 220 meat pies, 220 joints of roast veal and 220 fruit pies. In all there were some 1,200 dishes. Lord Romney provided seven pipes of port (each equivalent to four barrels) and sixteen butts each of ale and of small beer (a butt being more than 100 gallons). In addition to all of that a pump had been fixed outside of Mote House to obtain from the cellars whatever more might be necessary. It seems that the clear intention was that no one should go hungry or thirsty.

Before he left Maidstone the king ordered the release of the insolvent debtors held in the county prison. The following day what remained of the feast was distributed to six hundred poor people of Maidstone and the surrounding neighbourhood.

The review inspired a poem “The Lord of the Mote” which was published in the Gentleman’s Magazine, whilst the officers of the Volunteers were sufficiently impressed at the arrangements which Lord Romney had made, at his own expence, that they paid for a circular stone pavilion to be erected, bearing the inscription, “This Pavilion was erected by the Volunteers of Kent, as a tribute of respect to the Earl of Romney, Lord Lieutenant of the County, MDCCCI.”

5 exposure HDR from single RAW file, shot on a Canon EOS1000D and processed in PS8.

Artwork Comments

  • Karen Stackpole
  • Dave Godden
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  • Dave Godden
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  • Dave Godden
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