Henry Edwards Receives the Honorary Freedom of Tenterden

19th Nov 2019

A record-breaking 40 years of service as a Tenterden town councillor was marked last night (Monday, 18 November) when Henry Edwards received the Honorary Freedom of the Town and Hundred of Tenterden.

A well-known figure in the town, Mr Edwards was first elected to the council in 1979, has been a committee chairman, a frequent contributor to council debates and closely involved with the Twinning Association and the May Fayre. 

“I have some fantastic memories from my time on the council”, he says. “It’s been a great honour to have served, and I have never taken that for granted.”

In particular, he fondly recalls three Royal events….

  • Attending a Buckingham Palace garden party in 1980 when the Queen – spotting that he was in the middle of the lawn during a downpour, while other guests were taking shelter in the marquees – arranged for him to be given a fresh cup of tea and piece of cake. He was even offered a change of dry clothes!
  • The visit of the Queen Mother in 1982, in her capacity as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, to open the new disability facilities at the town railway station. “It was such a great day”, he recalls.
  • The visit of Princess Diana in 1990 when she opened the Leisure Centre, and signed the visitors’ book using Henry’s pen.

He also commended the enormous effort of the town last year to mark the hundredth anniversary of the ending of World War One with a full day’s programme, including the arrival at the station of the Cavell Van, the rail carriage which brought home the body of the Unknown Warrior, and subsequently the body of Nurse Edith Cavell, the heroine shot in 1915 for aiding the escape of British soldiers. 

A lifelong resident of Tenterden at his Eastwell Farm, Henry’s family links with the town go back to 1872 when his great grandfather, Obadiah. bought the old Tenterden brewery and nine local pubs.

After Obadiah died in 1905, Henry’s grandfather, Henry senior, continued running the business with his brothers Robert and Fred until they sold it in 1922, and, aged just 21, Henry’s father Frank began the family farming business.

Presenting Henry with his Freeman’s certificate and an inscribed shepherd’s crook,  the Mayor of Tenterden, Cllr Jean Curteis, commended him for 40 years of service to the “welfare and preservation” of Tenterden, as well as being a mentor to many town councillors. Cllr Harry Hickmott presented Henry’s wife Felicity with a bouquet of flowers.

  • Picture shows Felicity and Henry Edwards with Town Clerk Phil Burgess and the Mayor, Cllr Jean Curteis