Claims to Fame?

Photo:H E Bates - author of The Darling Buds of May

H E Bates - author of The Darling Buds of May

The Bates lived in Little Chart and their daughters came to Hothfield school

Photo:Alfred Austin - the worst Poet Laureate

Alfred Austin - the worst Poet Laureate

He lived at Swinford Manor in Hothfield Parish

Photo:Hothfield's hydrobrake - once the biggest in the world

Hothfield's hydrobrake - once the biggest in the world

Thanks to Rick Kemp

Some possible links between Hothfield and the famous

By Chris Rogers

H E Bates wrote The Darling Buds of May while living at Little Chart – his daughters came to Hothfield School.

Alfred Austin lived at Swinford Manor (near Godinton House) and he was the official poet to the Government of the time, known as a Poet Laureate.  Alfred also wrote many books which sold well and some of which are beautifully illustrated, but he also had a reputation for being the worst Poet Laureate despite the public popularity of some his work.

Sir Reginald Rootes bought Hothfield Park around 1947 and was part of the family that owned the major British “Rootes Group” motor company.  The Rootes brothers bought several smaller British motor car manufacturers and were themselves eventually bought out by Chrysler, and their legacy is now part of Peugeot and Renault.

It is believed that a piece of music called ‘The Lost Chord’ was composed on the organ which is now at St.Margaret’s Church Hothfield by Sir Arthur Sullivan (one half of the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership) when he was visiting Lord and Lady Hothfield.  It is believed that at that time the organ was in the Manor House where a public performance was also given by Sir Arthur in 1877.  (The organ was moved to the church in the late 1890s.)

After the First World War a pre-eminent surgeon, Harold Gillies, was working at Sidcup Hospital rebuilding the faces of soldiers who were seriously disfigured.  He became one of the leading plastic surgeons.  In a book about his life, “The Great Silence”, it says that he took a break after three years of intensively draining work and stayed in a cottage in Hothfield.  Apparently he spent the time writing a medical book, fishing and bird watching.  If your house was here in the 1920s then he might have stayed there.  (My thanks to Kay Pender for this interesting piece of research)

... and don't forget that when the Hydrobrake was installed at Hothfield it was the largest in the world!  (but now there are bigger ones)

Do you know of anyone else who is well known and connected with Hothfield?  Please e-mail:

This page was added by Chris Rogers on 23/06/2014.
Comments about this page

The recent passing of Cilla Black brought back memories from 1963/4 when someone in the village organised a trip to Maidstone to see a pop concert. The headliners were Dion and Del Shannon , over from the USA. Also on the bill was a young girl from Liverpool who had just had her first single released. The song was "love of the loved" the singer was Cilla. Can any of our readers remember who ran this coach, or maybe they were on it.

"Love of the Loved" was Cilla's first single, released in 1963, but it wasn't the famous 'Anyone who had a heart' that launched her career soon after.  Cilla mixed with The Beatles in Liverpool and "Love of the Loved" was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon but the Beatles themselves didn't do well with it.

Was the coach trip organised by the Merry and Bright club?  Were you there?

Mike T

By Michael Teesdale
On 07/08/2015

HE Bates had two sons Richard and Jonathan who also attended Hothfield School I was good friends with Richard and i remember going to a birthday party at their home in Little Chart.

By Jonathan Smith
On 04/06/2018

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.