The Faversham News brings you all the latest live news, sport, business news and what’s on in Faversham and Ospringe
The Faversham news is one of the two
Faversham newspapers.It is 102 years
old and employs the oldest reporter in
Britain.It has changed hands 4 times.It
is printed on Thursday at a works in
Sheerness and issued each Friday.Here
are some of the local stories of note
according to the news editor:The parish
church tried to raise money by selling
some flagons so they can repair the
roof.The only other set existing is in
Moscow.Barratts housing have sold
out a local estate in mid-construction
following a critical T.V.programme.
save money the County Council has cut
the planned beds in a new wing of
Benstead House old people’s home.The
town is in the middle of an
anti-litter campaign.Residents are
complaining about the smell from a
local works.The news is promoting
Faversham as Kent’s medieval gem.
Faversham, is a market town and civil parish in the Swale district of Kent, England. The town is 48 miles from London and 10 miles from Canterbury and lies next to the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from
the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary. It is close to the A2, which follows an ancient British trackway which was used by the Romans and the Anglo-Saxons, and known as Watling Street. The Faversham name is of Latin via Old English origin, meaning “the metal-worker’s village”.
There has been a settlement at Faversham since pre-Roman times, next to the ancient sea port on Faversham Creek, and archaeological evidence has shown a Roman theatre was based in the town. It was inhabited by the Saxons and mentioned in the Domesday book as Favreshant. The town was favoured by King Stephen who established Faversham Abbey, which survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. Subsequently, the town became an important seaport and established itself as a centre for brewing, and the Shepherd Neame Brewery, founded in 1698, remains a significant major employer.
The town was also the centre of the explosives industry between the 17th and early 20th century, before a decline following an accident in 1916 which killed over 100 workers. This coincided with a revival of the shipping industry in the town. Faversham has a number of landmarks, with several historic churches including St Mary of Charity, Faversham Parish Church, the Maison Dieu and Faversham Recreation Ground. Faversham Market has been established for over 900 years and is still based in the town centre. There are good road and rail links, including a Southeastern service to the High Speed 1 line at Ebbsfleet International and London.
Faversham was established as a settlement before the Roman conquest. The Romans established several towns in Kent including Faversham, with traffic through the Saxon Shore ports of Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lympne converging on Canterbury before heading up Watling Street to London. The town was less than 10 miles from Canterbury, and consequently Faversham had become established on this road network by 50 AD following the initial conquest by Claudius in 43 AD. Numerous remains of Roman buildings have been discovered in and around Faversham, including under St Mary of Charity Church where coins and urns were discovered during reconstruction of the western tower in 1794. In 2013, the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman theatre, able to accommodate some 12,000 people, were discovered at a hillside near the town. The cockpit-style outdoor auditorium, the first of its kind found in Britain, was a style the Romans used elsewhere in their empire on the Continent.
There is archaeological evidence to suggest that Faversham was a summer capital for the Saxon kings of Kent. It was held in royal demesne in 811, and is further cited in a charter granted by Coenwulf, the King of Mercia. Coenwulf described the town as the King’s little town of Fefresham, while it was recorded in the Domesday Book as Favreshant. The name has been documented as meaning “the metal-worker’s village”, which may derive from the Old English fæfere, which in turn comes from the Latin “faber” meaning “craftsman” or “forger”. The town had established itself as a seaport by the Middle Ages, and became part of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports in the 13th century, providing a vessel to Dover. The Gough Map of Britain, printed in 1360, shows the Swale as an important shipping channel for trade.
The manor was recorded as Terra Regis, meaning it was part of the ancient royal estates. King Stephen gave it to his chief lieutenant, William of Ypres, but soon made him swap it with Lillechurch (now Higham) so that the manor of Faversham could form part of the endowment of Faversham Abbey. Stephen established the abbey in 1148, and is buried there with his consort Matilda of Boulogne, and his son, Eustace, the Earl of Boulogne. Stephen favoured the town because of the abbey, and so it was historically important during his reign. King John tried to give the church to Simon of Wells in 1201, but it was owned by the monks of St Augustine’s Abbey at Canterbury, who appealed to Rome and denied the request. Abbey Street was constructed around this time in order to provide an appropriate approach to the abbey from the town. It still houses timber framed buildings and has been described as “the finest medieval street in southeast England”.
Thomas Culpeper was granted Faversham Abbey by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. Most of the abbey was demolished, and the remains of Stephen were rumoured to have been thrown into Faversham Creek. An excavation of the abbey in 1964 uncovered the empty graves. The entrance gates survived the demolition and lasted until the mid-18th century, but otherwise only a small section of outer wall survived. The abbey’s masonry was taken to Calais to reinforce defence of the town, then in British possession, against the French army. In 1539, the ground upon which the abbey had stood, along with nearby land, passed to Sir Thomas Cheney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
Among the few surviving buildings of Faversham Abbey are the two barns at Abbey Farm. Minor Barn was built around 1425; Major Barn, the larger of the two, dates from 1476. Next to the barns is the Abbey Farmhouse, part of which dates from the 14th century. The Abbey Guest house, on the east side of the Abbey’s Outer Gateway, has survived as Arden’s House. This house, now a private residence in Abbey Street, was the location of the murder of Thomas Arden in 1551. The Faversham Almshouses were founded and endowed by Thomas Manfield in 1614, with additional houses being built by Henry Wright in 1823.
Due to the poor quality of roads in the Middle Ages, travel by sea was an important transport corridor. Richard Tylman (or Tillman), mayor in 1581, expanded the port at Faversham, building two wharfs. He became a key figure in exporting corn, wheat and malt to London from the town.
Several notable people in the Middle Ages had origins in Faversham. Haymo of Faversham was born in Faversham and later moved to Paris to join the Franciscans, becoming the “Aristotelian of Aristotelians”. Simon of Faversham was born in the town around the middle of the 13th century and later became Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1304.The notorious pirate Jack Ward is believed to have been born in Faversham around 1553. John Wilson, lutenist and teacher was born in Faversham in 1595 who was the principal composer for the King’s Men and a professor of music at Oxford. There is now a plaque at the site of the house in Abbey Street where he was born.
A gunpowder plant had been established around 1573 in Faversham. The town had a stream which could be dammed at intervals to provide power for watermills. It became known as the Home Works in the 18th century and was nationalised in 1759. By the 19th century, the site stretched for around a mile along the waterfront. A second explosive works was established at Oare to the northwest of town in the late 17th century, with the Marsh Works following in 1786. Towards the end of the 19th century, two new factories were built alongside the Swale to manage production of TNT and cordite. Faversham developed six explosive factories, and from 1874 to 1919, the town was the centre of the explosives industry in the UK.
The first production of guncotton took place in the Marsh Works in 1847. Due to a lack of experience with production methods, an explosion took place soon after work started, with several fatalities. On Sunday 2 April 1916, an explosion occurred at one of the Swale factories in Uplees after sparks from a chimney ignited the works containing around 150 tonnes of high explosives. The incident killed over 100 people, which led to decline of the explosives industry in the town. Later accounts suggested that had the incident not happened on a Sunday, there would have been many more casualties.
All three gunpowder factories closed in 1934 due to the impending threat of World War II. Production was moved to Ardeer in Ayrshire, Scotland, and the munition industry around Faversham is now extinct. The town is now a harbour and market community; old sail-powered Thames barges are repaired, rebuilt and moored along the creekside.
Industrial Revolution and beyond
Kent is the centre of hop-growing in England, being centred on nearby Canterbury and Faversham has been the home of several breweries. The Shepherd Neame Brewery was officially founded in 1698, though brewing activities in Faversham pre-date this. The brewery claims to be the oldest in Britain and continues to be family-owned. The Rigden brewery was founded in the early 18th century by Edward Rigden. It subsequently merged with the Canterbury-based George Beer in 1922 to become George Beer & Rigden before being purchased by the Maidstone based Fremlin’s. Whitbread bought out Fremlin’s in 1967, and closed the Faversham brewery in 1990. The site is now a Tesco superstore. Shepherd Neame remains a significant regional brewer despite a decline in consumption of traditional bitter beer, producing around 230,000 barrels a year. It now also makes India Pale Ale under licence. Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Neame, recipient of the Victoria Cross, was born in Faversham and a memorial to him was placed in the town centre in 2014.
A shipyard was established in Faversham by James Pollock & Sons (Shipbuilders) in 1916 at the request of Lord Fisher, the First Lord of The Admiralty, for manufacturing barges for landing craft. Faversham already had a tradition of shipbuilding, and it soon became a major contributor to markets throughout the world, producing vessels such as the Molliette and the Violette, both constructed of concrete. Over 1200 ships were built and launched from Faversham between 1916 and 1969.
Faversham Market is still held in the town centre. It is now the oldest street market in Kent, dating back over 900 years. Monthly markets are also held in Preston Street and Court Street.
Having been an important thoroughfare since the 12th century, Abbey Street went into decline around the start of the 20th. Some buildings on the street adjoining Quay Lane were demolished in 1892 and much of the entire street was intended for demolition as recently as the 1950s, until intervention from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.Local people began a determined fight to restore and preserve the area. Faversham has a highly active archaeological society and a series of community archaeology projects are run every year. In 2009, evidence of the town’s medieval tannery was unearthed in back gardens of one street, and evidence from the Saxon period was uncovered during the Hunt the Saxons project between 2005 and 2007.