In this our second Curator's pick, Assistant Curator David Whitehouse has chosen the Best uniform and badge, which are 225 years old and are among the oldest items in our collection at Hever.
"The earliest items of Kent Yeomanry uniform in the museum’s collection are the coat and badge worn by Captain George Best of Chilton Park. George Best was commissioned as a Cornet (equivalent of a second lieutenant) on 30th May 1794 and joined ‘Provender’ (an estate just west of Faversham) a two-troop unit under the command of Major (later Colonel) Sir Edward Knatchbull. At this time troops of yeomanry formed in Kent were independent of each other and they were not to be fully regimented until after the turn of the century.
George Best, the youngest son of James Best of Park House (High Sheriff of Kent in 1751), was born on 10th November 1759 at Park House Boxley Kent. He sat as Member of Parliament for Rochester from 1790 to 1796 and was also a partner in an old family brewery at Chatham. Additionally, he was a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Kent. Best married Caroline, daughter of Edward Scott, of Scott's Hall, Kent, in 1784. They had six children, one of whom Thomas Fairfax Best gained a commission in the West Kent Yeomanry in 1831 having previously served in the Grenadier Guards, fighting at the Battle of Corunna in 1809, during Wellington’s campaign in the Iberian peninsula.
In 1795, Best was promoted Lieutenant and in 1797 gained his Captaincy. It was at this time that he probably had the Chilston Troop badge commissioned bearing his family crest, although the reasons for this are not clear. Officially, there was never a Chilston Troop in the East Kent Yeomanry. It is believed there is at least one other surviving example of the badge and it is thought that Best may have presented badges to other officers from Chilston serving under Knatchbull at this time.
Examples of yeomanry uniform from this period are very rare, and so we are privileged to have these items in the collection."