Discover three eccentric characters connected with Kent!
On 4th February 1980 Jean Barker was made a life peer in the House of Lords and chose her title ... and thus she became “Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich in the county of Kent”.
She was a socialite from an upper-class background who’d travelled the world. She’d worked at Bletchley Park during World War Two and became a magistrate, moving into the world of politics in the 1960’s. An eccentric character indeed, she made many famous quotes including ...
“If you are ever attacked in the street do not shout “Help!”, shout “Fire!”. People adore fires and always come rushing. Nobody will come if you shout “Help”.”
“At the age of 80, there are very few pleasures left to me, but one of them is passive smoking.”
She retired from The House of Lords at the age of 95 and passed away aged 96 - one of life’s colourful characters!
The Amazing Lord Rokeby. Just four miles up the road at Hythe lived a rather charming eccentric character in the mid-1700s, Lord Rokeby.
A peer of the realm he lived in a mansion, Mount Morris, and had his very own individual way of living - he enjoyed a love for the freedom for people to do what they wanted. His diet consisted of simply meat and water. Whenever he saw anyone drinking water, he would reward them with a half-crown piece, and he always carried a pocketful with him. His love of freedom extended to his animals which he would allow to roam freely on his estate and the grounds which he left to grow untamed.
Daily this man walked slowly from his mansion to the sea at Hythe, which was some three miles, and people would come out and line the road to watch him walk slowly by them. He must have been quite a sight, he walked stooped over with a beard down to his knees. He would walk with his carriage with driver behind him and a man servant walking behind the carriage. Every day, rain or shine, he would make the journey to take a daily dip in the sea.
He died aged 88 in 1800 and had had only two dislikes throughout his life - doctors and church. He was by all accounts a kind man who liked a peaceful life but could also talk the hind legs off a donkey!
Hollingbourne, Maidstone was the birthplace of Nicholas Wood, who achieved fame in the 1600s as ‘The Great Kent Eater’. A celebrity of his day! Amongst his wagers was a bet with Sir Warham St Leger of Leeds Castle. Sir William bet him he couldn’t eat dinner for eight - a gamble that it’s reported he won after scoffing the lot down.
It’s also claimed at one sitting he ate a whole sheep and then 3 ‘pecks’ of damsons - a peck being more than 2 gallons. It’s said he had his tummy rubbed with grease to allow the skin to expand. We hope that hasn’t put you off your next meal!
English poet John Taylor became his representative having met him in a pub and watched him eat 60 eggs, a good portion of a lamb, and a handful of pies - a meal that left him hungry for more. They travelled fairs and fetes and put on shows of feats of feasting. It’s not known whether he lived to a ripe old age!
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