It is odd in this day and age that a man should be called a Gentleman of anywhere. I was only diagnosed as a Gentleman in 2016. The year my grandfather died and I was allowed to bear the arms of my family as a Gentleman of Chiddingstone. The rules of armorial bearings supervised by the College of Arms are as arcane as any this great country has.
The arms were conferred in 1592 on a family of Ironmasters . We had risen rapidly to prominence over two generations having arrived in Chiddingstone in 1514. In 1592 for the “nouveau-riche” spelling was a matter of phonetics not pedantry; so on the heraldic parchment declaring this new status one brother spelled his name Streatfeild and the other with the now grammatically correct ie. Five hundred and five years later I find that I am generation fifteen to have lived this curiously illiterate and quintessentially English life. This “gentleman” having spent 16 years in the Army is now also forging a living in Chiddingstone, less by iron and more by ironing. Ironing is one of the things that anyone who has passed the commissioning course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst has a lot of experience with but is seldom really good at. The ironing in my life is not only the six bags we send each week as we change over the seventeen guest bedrooms @Hoath House_wherefateleads, The Tudor Wing and Apple Bough, but also all the wrinkles in running Hoath House as a business and a family home.
Most especially smoothing the path of those who have booked a family celebration or a wedding in this most beautiful part of Kent that once was the centre of industry and is now the centre of a leisure, tourist heritage and lifestyle industry. In amongst the working farms and the beautiful landscape of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sit the gems of Hever Castle, Chiddingstone Castle and Penshurst Place. All within two miles of where I sit. I would like to welcome you to Hoath House in Chiddingstone. Steeped in history and surrounded by beauty and where I hope you find, like our family motto, Data fata Sequutus it is where fate leads.