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Sir John Wells former MP for Maidstone dies

By Alan Smith

Sir John Wells, the former Conservative MP for Maidstone, has died.

Sir John represented the county town for 28 years from 1959 till 1987.

He was educated at Eton and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve joining initially as a seaman, and was made an officer in 1942.

Sir John and Lady Wells
Sir John and Lady Wells

After the war, he became a marine engineer, businessman and farmer.

He first stood for Parliament unsuccessfully for Smethwick in the 1955 General Election.

He then transferred his attention to Maidstone, where his great, great, great uncle, also called John Wells, had been MP for the town from 1820 to 1830.

He was noted for his strong support of the farming industry, and on one occasion made a point by loudly chomping on a Kentish apple during a speech by a Labour Minister of Agriculture, as a protest against cheap French imports.

On another occasion, to demonstrate his support for rural life, he rode his horse to the House Of Commons, while wearing a bowler hat and pinstripe trousers.

Sir John outside Parliament on his horse
Sir John outside Parliament on his horse

In Parliament, he served as chairman of the Horticultural Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Agriculture, and also as chairman of Standing Committees.

He was knighted in 1984 and made a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent in 1992.

Sir John lived at Mere House in Mereworth. He was married to Lucinda (nee Meath-Baker), who predeceased him in 2013.

The couple had four children: Andrew, Oliver, Julia and Henrietta.

Andrew Wells, who served as High Sheriff of Kent in 2005, described his father as “very much the country man.”

He said: “He loved country sports and country people.

“He was a great horticulturist, professionally too, and showed a number of times at Chelsea.

“He was a modest man, and what was perhaps slightly surprising in his later years, was that he very good with young people; very attentive to them and he loved explaining things to them.”

Sir John had a fall in November last year, breaking a hip, and subsequently spent six weeks in hospital. His health had deteriorated ever since and he passed away on Wednesday. He was 91.

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