Meetings held at the Dog & Bear, Lenham


February’s lunchtime gathering of the Kent Group was followed by a talk from Dr Phil Stone, Chairman of the Richard III Society

He began by telling us about King Richard’s early life, the background of the Yorkist cause, and the achievements of his short reign. Most people’s knowledge of Richard comes from the Shakespeare play, but Shakespeare was guilty of disseminating what we would today call “fake news”. Other sources show that Richard, described as the last true English King, was a just and capable ruler who did much for the poor and encouraged the printing of books in English.

As we know Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and Henry Tudor become King as Henry VII, but at that time there was 30 people with a stronger claim to the throne than Henry.

Dr Stone discussed the fate of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ and Richard’s other supposed crimes, explaining the extremely complex dynastic, political, legal and religious matters which could have given a number the motive to remove Richard’s alleged victims from the positions of power, or in line for the throne. Besides, we are told, there is always the possibility that the young King Edward V and his brother were sent to France with their aunt Margaret. As the saying goes - “The Jury is still out!”

The forerunner of the Richard III Society was originally founded in 1924 but it reformed under it’s current name 1956. It now has almost 4000 members around the world and for 38 years has enjoyed the active patronage of HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The Society’s aim is not to portray King Richard as completely faultless, but to make a serious, balanced, and open-minded study of his life and times. Full information can be fouond on the website.

In conclusion Dr Stone gave us his first-hand account of the elaborate ceremonies in which King Richard’s remains, famesly discovered under a car park, were laid to rest with great honour in Leicester Cathedral.


Our meeting was at the Dog and Bear, Lenham, and the group enjoyed a most interesting talk by Bill Ferris OBE, DL, who spoke about the historic Royal Dockyard Chatham. His theme was “Reflections on an enduring link with the Monarchy”, and we learnt many things that we had never known about the Dockyard.

He began by explaining his role as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, which often involves standing in for the Lord Lieutenant at Royal and ceremonial events. In the past such a role enabled the person to call all able men in the country to defend it — but this has not been so since the 1920s.

The Dockyards began in the 1500’s as a Royal Navy Fleet base. In 1579 the first ship was launched from there, the Merlin. It was considered a safe haven for ships and was all about trade.

Lord Nelson joined the Navy in Chatham, and the Victory was built there. It enjoyed Royal patronage until 1729, then after a period of deterioration George III visited in 1778 and the Dockyard once again became important, during the age of sailing ships. During the First and Second World Wars it was used as a repair yard, and amazingly was never bombed. Members of the current Royal Family have made many visits to the Dockyard. Prince Charles is the patron.

Nowadays (since 1984 when the Navy moved out) the historic buildings have been preserved and visitors can see the story of wooden warship production (it takes 4 years to build such a ship) and many fascinating artefacts and historic details. There are exhibits to explain how ships went from sail to steam, and wood to iron. The Ropery is of particular interest and once flags were made there. It is frequently used as background in films and TV dramas. The history of this Dockyard is fundamental to Kent, and the group is now hoping to arrange a visit to Chatham to see first hand what we learnt from Mr Ferris’s talk.

Wednesday 12th October 2016

We were especially privileged to welcome to our October meeting Terry Pendry LVO, BEM, who is Stud Groom and Manager of the Royal Mews at Windsor Castle. Part of his duty is to accompany Her Majesty The Queen when she rides at Windsor and Balmoral. It is astonishing to think that the Queen, at 90, still rides as often as she can.

Born in Tewkesbury, Mr. Pendry has worked with horses all his life, first as a flat-racing jockey in Scotland, then in a 20 year career in the Household Cavalry, from which he retired as a Senior Warrant Officer, during which he enjoyed show-jumping. Unsurprisingly this brought him to the notice of Her Majesty and the Princess Royal, and led to his present position in the Royal Mews.

We learned about the Mews at Windsor, built for Queen Victoria in 1842 and currently accommodating over 90 horses, the Royal Stud at Hampton Court, where both Queen Victoria’s and the Prince of Wales’s racehorses were bred, and which is still in use today, and the Balmoral Stud which houses 50-60 Highland and Fell ponies. As is well known, Her Majesty’s racehorses often win trophies, but less well known, except to those who move in equine circles, is that her riding horses and ponies also win championships at shows across the country. Although he no longer rides, the 95 year old Duke of Edinburgh continues carriage driving, and controlling a team of four horses at any age is no mean feat! Several horses have been given to The Queen of Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and those she rode at Trooping the Colour - Burmese and Centennial - became almost household names. RCMP personnel featured in a number of the beautiful pictures Mr. Pendry showed us to illustrate his fascinating talk, but the best showed a smiling Queen with her horses and ponies, proving what we guessed, that is when she is at her happiest.

Mr.Pendry’s talk concluded with a montage of photographs of a range of royal events, such as the State Opening of Parliament and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in which horses from the Royal Mews took part, and finally the spectacular Horse Show at Windsor which celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Saturday 23rd April 2016

Our April meeting was a very special occasion, for not only did the date, 23rd April, co-incide with St. George's Day, but it was also just two days after Her Majesty The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday and was widely marked as the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

In recognition of the importance of the occasion the informal lunch and subsequent meeting attracted one of the Group's largest attendances. To make it even more special Gerald Colston was with us to show the Maundy Money he had received from Her Majesty at St.George's, Windsor, three weeks earlier, and tell us about the moving ceremony.

Our Chairman, Bishop Damien Mead, distributed copies of the excellent book 'The Servant Queen', about our Sovereign's guiding faith before introducing the meeting's speaker, Dr. Barry Twigg MBE.

Dr. Twigg took as his subject 'The Seven Georges', and guided us through story of the first four Hanoverian Georges and the events of their reigns, from King George I's dependence on what became known as a 'Prime Minister' to King George IV's patronage of the arts.

King George V reigned over a period of great social change and, by adapting to the challenges of the times, ensured the continuing popularity – and survival – of the monarchy. Some in the audience had fond memories of King George VI, his steadfastness during the Second World War, and the example of duty and service he set for his daughter to follow. The seventh George is, of course, Prince George of Cambridge, who will one day be King George VII.

Dr. Twigg was thanked for travelling so far to present his interesting talk, and we were delighted to present him with books for the schools he visits when speaking about the monarchy.

The meeting closed with a Toast to the Queen in sparkling wine, following which Maggie Palmer read the passage about Queen Elizabeth I from Shakespeare's 'King Henry VIII' which the Prince of Wales chose to recite as a 90th birthday tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. That neatly led us to the second and final Toast – to St. George and Shakespeare.

Saturday 20th February 2016

At the February meeting, following our customary convivial lunch members assembled in the Function Room of the Dog and Bear, Lenham, to hear local historian and Group member Sheila Boyd tell us about the colourful life of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VII.

Often seen as a caricature he was more important and influential as a king and statesman, and in the development of modern constitutional monarchy, than he is given credit for, and all this despite the trials of his upbringing. His father, Prince Albert, subjected him to a demanding education at the hands of strict tutors, a rigid curriculum and harsh discipline. When, at the age of 20, ‘Bertie’ transgressed (with the actress Nellie Clifden) the worry caused to Prince Albert led Queen Victoria to believe her son had hastened her beloved husband’s death, and she never forgave him.

The Prince of Wales’s marriage to Princes Alexandra of Denmark was intended to direct his life on a different, more respectable, path, but as the Queen denied him any official role he was drawn into a life of pleasure. Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, this involved him in scandals, such as those of the Mordaunt and Tranby Croft cases which came to court and threatened to do damage to the institution of monarchy. His many mistresses were common knowledge, especially in the aristocratic circles in which he moved.

He did, however, carve out a role for himself by, in contrast to his mother who remained largely in seclusion, establishing what is now the familiar round of royal duty - as patron of charities, opening hospitals and encouraging agriculture and industry. On the international stage he proved an able ambassador, preserving peace in Europe through the Ententes which he inspired and fostered. Not for nothing was he known by his contemporary generation as ‘Good Old Teddy’ and ‘The Peacemaker’.

Saturday 18th April 2015

On April 18th, after the now customary informal lunch, members gathered in the Dog and Bear, Lenham, where we were given a very interesting talk by Jeri Smith-Cronin of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.
Twenty years after launching The Prince’s Trust in 1976, The Prince of Wales was inspired to found two charities concerned with preserving the built environment, the Phoenix Trust and Regeneration through Heritage. These were merged in 2006 to become the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. Its aim, in short, is “to make a future out of the past”, and it achieves this by rescuing and re-using important British buildings at risk in areas of deprivation. It came as no surprise to know that the Prince is interested in ‘heritage’, and his passion for good architecture is often reported in the media, not always favourably, unfortunately, but we learned that the work of the Regeneration Trust has a much wider purpose.
Our visionary Prince saw a value far beyond the mere preservation of a building’s fabric. As the PRT’s Chief Executive puts it “ Our projects, mostly in deprived areas, transform lives by providing new employment, training, education and other social benefits. ‘Regeneration’ doesn’t just mean restoring a few buildings. Our work creates a catalytic effect that can bring pride, investment and jobs back into an entire area”.
As Mr. Smith-Cronin showed us, these projects - 70 of them - can be found in every part of the kingdom, and range from a former school in Belfast to Margate’s Dreamland amusement park in our own county of Kent, from humble cottages in the far north of Scotland to the Old Duchy Palace in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. The PRT’s flagship project is the Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, where not only has the oldest working Victorian pottery in the UK been restored, but 86 jobs have been created or saved, and 12 units provided for local businesses.
More information about this and other PRT projects can be found on
While the media gives the Prince little credit for what this charity has achieved, it has won widespread support from those who have seen its benefits at first hand, among them its Ambassadors Bill Bryson, Kirstie Allsopp and Griff Rhys Jones, and of course the many people who live in, work in, or visit, the buildings the PRT has returned to use.
The Kent Group was delighted to be able to make a donation to the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, and thanked Mr. Smith-Cronin for telling us about it.

Saturday 14th February 2015

At our February meeting we were entertained by a talk from local historian Sheila Boyd on the subject of Mrs. Dorothea Jordan, the long-term ‘companion’ of William, Duke of Clarence , later King William IV.
Given that they lived in connubial bliss for 20 years, it was the ideal choice for Valentine’s Day!
Not only did they enjoy a happy family life for so many years - they lived effectively as man and wife and had ten children - her earnings as an actress helped meet the domestic finances, the Duke finding it impossible to live within his means. “Does he keep her, or does she keep him?” was a question asked in the popular press of the time.
It was the need to settle his growing debts which led the Duke to abandon Mrs. Jordan in 1811 in hope, a vain one as it turned out, of finding a rich bride. Dorothea fell on hard times herself and died in extremely straitened circumstances in Paris in 1816.
Many of their ten children married well and had interesting descendants, among them Sir Rupert and Adam Hart-Davis; the Earl of Erroll; the Duchess of Fife and the Countess of Southesk, both granddaughters of King Edward VII; the Marquess of Bute; Viscount De L’Isle, the current Lord Lieutenant of Kent; and David Cameron, Her Majesty’s Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.

Saturday 4th October 2014

At our October meeting at the Dog and Bear, Lenham, Ian Pelham Turner gave us a talk about his life as a royal photographer and international media commentator on the Royal Family.

He prefaced his talk with a short informal quiz on fascinating royal trivia, and even the experts among us were stumped by most of the questions.

Born and brought up in the Medway Towns, his first job was as a photographer on a now defunct Rochester newspaper, which several in the audience remembered fondly. His first ‘royal assignment’ at the age of 16 was to photograph Princess Margaret and the Earl of Snowdon on their official visit to open the new Rochester Bridge. Being more athletic than his older rivals, and with a little luck, he raced to a spot on the castle mound which offered the perfect shot - the royal party with the bridge in the background. So good was the resultant photo that the Mayor had it copied in oils for display in the council offices.

From a local newspaper he went on to work for the regional and then national press, including a stint with the Daily Mail, but now works mainly with television companies around the world.

In a career spanning 46 years he has photographed four generations of the Royal Family. His big break came in 1982, when he was commissioned to take photographs of Prince William and his proud parents to mark his first Christmas. In those days protocol was stricter than it is now and, with a royal official standing by stop-watch in hand, he was given just seven minutes to take a series of photographs in both colour and monochrome. All this had to be done in silence, for he was not permitted to speak to the Prince and Princess of Wales, not even to suggest how they might pose to best advantage. With the precious seconds ticking away the Princess, suddenly realising that the teething ring she was waving to attract her little son’s attention was obscuring her face, lowered it - and the photograph was taken just in time!

His reputation secured, Mr. Pelham Turner went on to take photographs of the Royal Family on all manner of occasions, and he kept us entertained with many anecdotes of not only his experiences but those of fellow photographers. Not surprisingly, the Queen Mother was among his favourite subjects, as she had a special understanding of the difficulties photographers can face - in Mr. Pelham Turner’s case on one assignment a jammed flash unit - and an appreciation that they had a job to do.

Since retiring from full-time photography he has studied the way royal children were brought up from Victorian times to the present day. Prince Albert imposed a very strict and demanding educational regime on his children, and it was not until the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, had their two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, that the family atmosphere changed from one of fear to a loving relationship. Princess Diana gave her sons, William and Harry, as normal a childhood as possible, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have demonstrated that this is what they want for Prince George and his future brother or sister. Mr. Pelham Turner now gives talks and stages exhibitions on ‘royal childhood’, and he will shortly be taking the exhibition to China to promote understanding of the Royal Family and encourage tourism to this country.

Saturday 12th April 2014

Our speaker was Maurice Dalton, formerly of the Diplomatic Service and the Royal Household. He told us about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s direct links with the Monarch, and The Queen’s keen interest in every detail of its work. In a long and distinguished career his own involvement included aspects of the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony in Whitehall, Her Majesty’s State Visit to China in 1986, the 50th Anniversary celebrations marking the end of World War Two, and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

All of us will have seen and admired how smoothly such events appear, but Mr. Dalton gave us an often amusing insight into negotiating the pitfalls of protocol, as some countries are extremely jealous of the prestige and precedence to which they think their Heads of State, official representatives and Ambassadors are entitled. We sensed he might have liked to tell us more, but a lifetime of service as a diplomat had taught him to resist the temptation to be indiscreet!

Equally interesting to us was to hear about the ceremony in which Ambassadors to the Court of St.James present the Letters of Recall of their predecessors and their own Credentials to The Queen at Buckingham Palace. Even this well rehearsed procedure is not without occasional mishap as it has been known for Ambassador to forget to bring his Credentials with him! Fortunately there is a ‘dummy envelope’ kept at the Palace for use in such an eventuality.

When on duty on these occasions Mr. Dalton wore appropriate Court Dress complete with cocked hat and sword which he kindly brought to show us, and very impressive it looks, too!

In recognition of his many years of service to the Nation and the Crown Mr. Dalton was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and decorated as a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, which is in the personal gift of The Queen.

Saturday 22nd February 2014

At our February meeting we were given a talk entitled ‘Pearls and Princesses’ by Helen Kendall-Tobias.
One might imagine that such topic might appeal only to the ladies in the audience, but the gentlemen found it equally fascinating. After all, the wearing of pearls was not historically limited to women for, as we were shown, the famous Wilton Diptych depicts King Richard II wearing a magnificent golden robe decorated with pearls, King Henry VIII had pearls on his cap, King Charles I wore a pearl earring, and King George IV’s Diadem has rows of pearls at its base.
Before showing pictures of royal ladies - and film stars! - and their pearls Mrs. Kendall-Tobias told us how pearls are made, where in the world they come from, how they are graded, their different shapes, sizes and colours, and how they should be cared for.
The Queen wears pearls, of course, but in a rather more restrained way than her predecessors. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I show her dresses lavishly decorated with pearls, as were those of Stuart and Hanoverian Queens, although perhaps less extravagantly. Queen Victoria owned many items of pearl jewellery, but it was Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary who often, and famously, appeared on state occasions and grand social events festooned with ropes of pearls.
Natural pearls could once only be afforded by royalty and the aristocracy, but the invention of a way to grow cultured pearls made them more widely accessible. They have never, however, lost their appeal, and pearl jewellery is as desirable today as it ever was.

Saturday 20th April 2013

At our April meeting we were entertained by a talk from Peregrine Massey, High Sheriff of Kent 2010-2011, on the subject of the Shrievalty and the Monarchy.

Mr.Massey’s family, we learned, has long been in service of the Crown, as his father commanded the bodyguard of Lord Louis Mountbatten when he was Viceroy of India, while his elder brother commanded the Blues and Royals, and held the position of Silver Stick in Waiting to HM The Queen. His own background is in diplomacy and treaty negotiation.

He explained that High Sheriffs are appointed by the Privy Council on behalf of The Queen, on the recommendation of the Privy Council Office, whose civil servants visit each county to take soundings and identify potential candidates. Three names are published each November, with the candidates following each other in succession.

Of special interest to us in Kent was that the first High Sheriff, who rejoiced in the name Earwig, served in our county and was appointed by King Cnut in 1040. The role of the High Sheriff was formalised under Magna Carta.

During the Tudor period various members of the prominent Kentish family of Boleyn, including Anne Boleyn’s father, served as High Sheriff.

While the Lord Lieutenant, who as The Queen’s representative in the county has precedence, and is closely involved with the military, the High Sheriff has responsibilities connected to the judiciary, police, prisons, the probation service and elections. While largely a ceremonial office nowadays, the High Sheriff still retains certain powers and obligations - the right to act as Returning Officer at elections, to raise a militia to defend the nation, to promote support for the Sovereign, and proclaim the succession to the Throne. It is also his - or her, for the office is open to women - duty to look after visiting judges sitting in the county courts.

During his year Mr.Massey took a particular interest in the welfare of young offenders who found themselves embroiled in the judicial system, and frequently carried out two engagements a day, often as a speaker at very short notice. The office is not funded from the public purse but by the office holder personally. Unlike the Lord Lieutenant, who might serve many years before compulsory retirement at the age of 75, each High Sheriff serves for one year.

This gives a flavour of Mr.Massey’s fascinating talk, and members were delighted to know that the Shrievalty still exists to support the Crown.

Saturday 3rd March 2012

The Speaker on this occasion was Ian Goodwin, a representative of the Prince’s Trust, who told us of the role of the Prince of Wales in the ongoing work of the Trust among disadvantaged young people and the Prince’s objectives in founding the Trust. We learned of the thousands of young people whom the Trust has enabled to get started on their careers.

Much of the funding is received from corporations, who donate large amounts and also offer training and placements to suitable candidates. Being a charity, of course any donations are welcome!

Loans are made to suitable candidates for one-off expenses to help them starting up in business, either to help them buy a piece of equipment or take a course. These are repaid to the Trust when the business venture is under way.

Candidates are generally in their 20’s or 30’s, and are people who have had some difficulties such as lack of education, drug or crime backgrounds, been in care and so on. They can be recommended by someone who knows them, or possibly even apply themselves, directly to the Trust.

The Trust has many mentors who are often retired from business. Mentors are volunteers who help the candidates every step of the way until their business is up and running.

Ian told us about a young man who wished to become a butcher and was lent the money for a special type of knife that he needed for this work. There was also a girl who began a business producing colourful wigs and other innovative ideas.

The Prince of Wales began the Trust in 1976 and is still very involved with it. He is always kept abreast of what it is doing and manages to meet many of the young people involved.
To find out more visit