The Royal Review: Mote Park, 1799

Pages 446-452

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 10. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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IT CANNOT BE DEEMED IMPROPER at this conclusion of the History of the County of Kent, to take some notice of THE ROYAL REVIEW at the Mote Park, near Maidstone, the seat of the Right Hon. Lord Romney, lord-lieutenant of the county, on Thursday, August the 1st, 1799, a glorious day for this county, and an instance perhaps without parallel, when a subject at his own expence liberally entertained his Sovereign, with his Royal Consort, the different branches of the Royal Family, the great officers of state, the principal nobility and gentry of the realm, and an Army of Volunteers, near 6000 in number, and those furnished by the single province of the county of Kent, together with thousands of spectators besides, all made happy at the presence of their beloved Sovereign, and feasted at his Lordship's tables by his sole liberality.

THE KING having signified his intentions of reviewing the Corps of Yeomen Cavalry and Volunteer Insantry, raised by the spirited exertions of the gentlemen of the county of Kent, in the Mote Park that day, General Sir Charles Grey, commander in chief of the southern district, having been unanimously requested to take upon him the command and direction of the same, issued his orders for the several arrangements to be formed, as adapted to the ground on which the Review was to take place; the cavalry, formed into two corps, to be under the command of Lieut. Gen. Sir Robert Lawrie, bart— The infantry to be formed into six battalions, under that of the Hon. Lieut. Gen. Fox.

ON THE DAY of this glorious festivity, joy filled the hearts of all ranks and denominations of people, at the hopes of seeing their beloved Sovereign. It brought crouds of them from the most distant parts of the county, and the metropolis itself might be said to have poured forth a great part of its inhabitants for this purpose.

In the morning the royal standard was hoisted on the town hall and the church, and the union flag displayed from many windows throughout the town, and a most splendid and elegant triumphal arch was erected across the streer, through which the Royal Family and most of the visitors were to pass.

In the Mote park a pavilion was erected on a rising part of the lawn, at the back of Lord Romney's house, for the Royal Family to dine in, and another nearly adjoining for the nobility attending. The former was elegantly decorated with festoons and wreaths of flowers, and the ground covered with green baize. Temporary tables and benches were erected near this spot in two divisions, arranged in order close to each other, but in such a manner as to be entirely within sight of the royal tent, for the Volunteers to dine at; on these tables, which were ninety-one in number, cloths, plates, &c. were laid, and a bounteous plenty of viands, with wine, &c. for the entertainment of upwards of 6000 persons.—The whole length of the different tables added together amounting to 13,333 yards.— On the other side or front of the house was a small train of artillery, encamped with tents.

About five o'clock in the morning, which was very fine, the companies began to move to the ground, and by nine the whole was occupied.— The Volunteers were drawn up in a double line, extending from one end of the park to the other, a grand pavilion being erected for the royal family in the front of the line.

About ten o'clock the Stadtholder appeared on the ground, and walked to the royal tent, where he waited for the arrival of the Royal Family, soon after which the Duke of York arrived, attended by Sir Charles Grey, Sir Robert Lawrie, General Fox, and many of the nobility, among whom were the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Dundas, Mr. Windham, &c. all on horseback, each with a branch of oak in his hat.

The Royal Family set out from Kew about five in the morning, and breakfasted with Earl Camden at his seat of Wildderness, near Sevenoke, but on account of some unforeseen delays, they did not reach the Mote Park till near twelve o'clock.

HIS MAJESTY came on the ground on his charger, attended by the prince of Wales, and the Dukes of Cumberland and Gloucester. The Queen, with the Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth, attended by Lady Harrington, in her Majesty's carriage, immediately drove up to the royal tent, at which they alighted, and immediately decorated themselves with oak boughs.

A royal salute was fired on the King's coming on the ground, who took his station where the troops were designed to pass; after which his Majesty, attended by the Prince of Wales, the Dukes of York, Cumberland and Gloucester, the Generals, and many of the nobility, passed the ranks in front of both lines, and afterwards the different troops of cavalry in the back ground. He then returned to the royal tent, and upon a signal given by the firing of a cannon, the whole of the lines formed into their companies, and the Review began, according to the orders and regulations previously arranged by General Sir Charles Grey.—The different military manœuvres which afterwards took place, are by far too numerous to be particularized here, they respectively took place at the signal of the firing of a cannon at seventeen different periods, and consisted of divers evolutions, marching, and countermarching, firings, &c. during which there were several general salutes and feux de joie. The King passed along the front line, and the troops afterwards passed his Majesty, with their respective bands playing.—At length, after three cheers given by the whole, and another general salute, the dinner, which was provided in a sumptuous stile, took place, and the greatest order was observed in the different companies seating themselves.

The King with his suite, attended by the Queen and Princesses, who during the Review had remained in their carriages, then entered their respective pavilions, and his Majesty held a levee of his state officers, nobility, &c. and an Address was presented to him upon the occasion by the Corporation of Maidstone, attended by the Mayor, the Recorder, and Samuel Chambers, esq. the high sheriff of the county, were graciously received, and had the honour of kissing the king's hand, and the high sheriff had the honor of knighthood conferred on him.

A sumptuous dinner was afterwards served up for the royal family in the pavilion, to which they sat down at half past three o'clock. The company consisting of his Majesty, the Queen, the two Princesses, the Dukes of York, Cumberland and Gloucester, the Stadtholder, and Lady Harrington, lady in waiting to the queen. They were waited on, during dinner, by Lord Romney, his son, and his three daughters, the Hon. Miss Marshams.

Whilst their Majesties were at dinner, another sumptuous one was provided for the ministers of state and nobility, at the tent erected near that of his Majesty; at this table dined the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Warden, Mr. Sec. Dundas, the Secretary at War, and several of the nobility of both sexes.

The Volunteers having finished their dinners, the King's, the Queen's, the Duke of York's, commander in chief, and other healths were given by upwards of 6000 persons, all standing up uncovered, with loud and reiterated acclamations of joy, accompanied by the music of all the bands, after which a number of officers and privates came up near the royal tent, and sung God save the King, which when finished, was loudly cheered by all the numerous company; Lord Romney then came forward, and after a short address proposed the King's health, in which all the Volunteers joined, standing uncovered, God save the King and Rule Britannia were then sung by the whole body of Volunteers, accompanied by the music of the bands. At half past five o'clock, upon a signal gun being fired, the different companies withdrew from the dinner tables, got under arms, and marched in their different directions. The King, with the Royal Family, then proceeded to Lord Romney's house, where they partook of coffee and other refreshments, and about six o'clock they set off for London. On the King's passing the line when he left the Park, the whole presented arms, gave a general salute, and the cannon fired twentyone rounds; immediately after which, the troops marched off in different directions, and the whole assemblage of persons dispersed to their several homes, with happiness in their countenance, their hearts glowing with loyalty, every one highly gratified with the festivity of the day, which had been conducted with the highest order and regularity.

In the evening the town of Maidstone was brilliantly illuminated, and several houses, particularly the Court-hall, were decorated with various loyal transparencies and different variegated lamps.

The strength of the different Associations, as returned, amounted to 5,721, though of these only 5,228 appeared, and afterwards dined in the Park. But tickets were likewise distributed to many hundreds of the spectators to partake of the same bounteous fare. To give some idea of the entertainment provided on the occasion in the Park, the principal dishes were in number 2,200, and consisted of

60 Lambs in quarters, making 240 dishes.
700 Fowls, three in a dish.
300 Hams.
300 Tongues.
220 Dishes of Boiled Beef.
220 Dishes of Roast Beef.
220 Meat Pies.
220 Fruit Pies, and
220 Joints of Roast Veal.

Seven pipes of port were bottled off for the supply of the tables, and what more might be wanting was ready in pipes in his Lordship's cellar; sixteen butts of ale, and as much table beer were placed in large vessels, to supply the company, and a pump was fixed at the outside of the house, which communicated with the cellar, as a ready means of procuring more if necessary. Besides the tables above-mentioned, there was one spread in like manner as the others, for 200 persons, which by inattention was left unnoticed, and the viands on it left untouched. But the noble Lord's hospitality did not end with the entertainment in the Park, for the surplus of what was left, was afterwards distributed to every cottager in the neighbourhood, each of whom had a plentiful portion of it, and a full waggon load of it besides was sent to Maidstone, to be distributed among the poor, sufficient in quantity for 600 families.

Thus ended this glorious and happy day, which reflected additional lustre on this great and opulent county, which had voluntarily trained to arms and assembled before their Sovereign so many thousand fine troops for his defence, and the preservation of those blessings which they enjoyed under their Country's most excellent Constitution, a day made happy by the presence of their beloved Sovereign, in the midst of thousands of his loyal subjects, who expressed their grateful feelings by frequent and reiterated bursts of loyalty. His Majesty frequently expressed his satisfaction in the course of the day, and immediately after his leaving the Park, the Duke of York signified by general orders, that though his Majesty had already directed Mr. Secretary Dundas to express to the LordLieutenant of Kent, and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, his thanks for the zeal and loyalty of the Gentlemen Yeomanry and Volunteers of the county of Kent, yet he could not leave the field without ordering the Commander in Chief to take this opportunity of conveying to them, the heart-felt satisfaction which he had received from the appearance and conduct which he had witnessed that day; and General Sir Charles Grey by like orders returned his warmest thanks to Lord Romney, the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Gentlemen Yeomanry and Volunteer Corps of Kent, for the honor conserred on him by their unanimous request, for him to take the command of them, on that glorious and eventful day; and likewise to the Captains and Officers commanding the Corps which had been that day reviewed, for their exertions and noble military appearance, and he, with heartselt satisfaction, congratulated the whole Corps on the high honor, and distinguished mark of savor conferred on them by his Majesty, who had afforded them that opportunity of shewing their zeal and attachment to his Majesty's person and government. Their Review had reflected the highest credit on every individual under arms, but great and spirited as was the conduct evinced by the county of Kent in the appearance of its Yeomanry and Volunteers on this occasion, nor could he have expected less, when he recollected, that it was no more than a continuation of that loyalty and public spirit it had ever exhibited, and particularly since he had had the honor to command the southern district.

The following Letter, highly expressive of his Majesty's sentiments of the Lord Lieutenant's conduct, as well as of the loyalty and military proficiency of the Volunteer Corps, was, by his Majesty's command, written to Lord Romney on the oceasion, by Mr. Secretary Dundas.

August1, 1799.
"I have his Majesty's command to express the extreme gratification he has received in reviewing the Volunteer Corps of the county of Kent. Notwithstanding all the reports of their good conduct, loyalty, and proficiency of their military duties, their appearance in his Majesty's presence has far exceeded the most sanguine expectation, I trust you will communicate to them in the most forcible manner you can, his Majesty's most cordial approbation; I confess myself unequal to the charge of doing it in terms sufficiently expressive of his Majesty's feelings.

"I have it specially in command from his Majesty, to mention to your Lordship, that the military appearance of the Volunteer Corps of the county of Kent was but one ingredient in that heartfelt satisfaction which his Majesty has this day experienced, in contemplating a display of those virtues and manners which distinguish the genuine character of Englishmen, and that however it may be improved, will never be impaired by the example of the person to whom his Majesty has committed the charge of this great and respectable County.

" The particular day chosen for this Review, naturally brought to his Majesty's contemplation the circumstances, which in securing the Constitution, placed at the same time his family on the throne of these kingdoms, and after a lapse of almost a century, during which the same system of liberty and law has remained inviolate, the manifestations of loyalty and attachment which his Majesty has met with, have sunk deep into his heart, and made an impression which can never be effaced.

"I have the honor to be, &c.

THE MAYOR and Commonalty of Canterbury took the earliest opportunity of voting the Freedom of their antient city to Lord Romney, which was communicated to his Lordship by the following Vote of the Court of Burghmote, holden at the Guildhall, on Tuesday, the 6th day of August, 1799.

That the Freedom of this City be presented to the Right Hon. CHARLES, Lord ROMNEY, Lord Lieutenant of the county of Kent, and of this city and county, in testmony of the very honorable and spirited conduct and exertions of his Lordship, in discharge of the duties of that high office, during a period which has required an attention and energy, unknown in modern times. And as a mark of the great satisfaction which the Mayor and Commonalty of this City, together with their fellow-citizens, experience in contemplating the late glorious oppoutunity which HIS Lordship has afforded to his Majesty, of a Review of the voluntary armed force of the county of Kent, in which his Lordship has not only given an additional lustre to his own patriotism and lovalty, but conferred an everlasting honor to the counties over which he presides.

On the 3d of September, 1799, there was a numerous Meeting at Sittingbourn, of Officers of the Volunteer Corps of the county of Kent, for the purpose of considering what lasting memeorial could be presented to Lord Romney, to mark their high regard and grateful thanks for his constant attention to the Volunteer Corps of this county, and particularly for his unparalleled hospitality on the first of August; when it was resolved, that a column, or other public Monument, should be ereceted in some conspicuous place in the Mote Park, to commemorate the said event; the expences of which were to be defrayed by a public subscription amongst the Volunteers, which was no sooner annourced, than a sufficient sum was raised for this truly patriotic purpose.