Discover Faversham’s quays, brewery and ancient lanes
Gary and I live in Kent, and we’ve visited Faversham a few times over the years. And no, not just to frequent its historical brewery (though that is a good reason) but, also to stroll its ancient Chartered covered market, delightful lanes and winding tidal creek.
However, today was a bit different, we’d decided that we weren’t just going to visit our usual stomping ground. We’d be more inquisitive and dig a little deeper into Kent’s oldest market town.
A little bit of history
Faversham truly has some history, it dates from pre-Roman times and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, as land owned by the King.
The picturesque town is located just off of the A2, which was an old Roman road connecting the Kent coast to London via the striking Cathedral city of Canterbury.
From the 11th-century, Faversham enjoyed the privileges bestowed on them from being one of the King’s Cinque Ports and was a limb of Dover.
What I love about Faversham is that it is a genuine locals’ town, with residents coming and going, and just getting on with their day to day lives.
However, with over 300 listed buildings and so many of them are eye-catching half-timbered dwellings, it’s a town that shouldn’t be taken for granted. We even spotted one pub dating from 1409, The Bull Inn.
The Bull Inn c1409 in Tanners Street
Faversham was once renowned for its gunpowder mills and explosives factories in the UK. Its original gunpowder plant was built in 1573. Faversham continued to grow its factories over the following centuries and manufactured gunpowder to be used in the Battle of Trafalgar and Battle of Waterloo.
In April 1916 an explosion occurred in one of the factories, killing over 100 people. All the factories were closed by 1934, due to the impending threat of the Second World War.
It’s in the blood
I have to be honest here, I do also have a family connection with Faversham or more to the point with Oare, which is just north of Faversham Creek. My relatives on my father’s side had a farm in Oare for decades. My Dad and Grandmother would regularly visit from Greenwich in London and spend time on the farm and also make the annual pilgrimage of hop picking.
The Tubbs family hop picking
An interesting read
If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".
You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.
Whether you visit Faversham on one of its bustling market days or when the lanes are quieter, it is a charming place to wander around.
Faversham Guildhall in Market Place
The stilted Guildhall is where you will be inevitably be drawn to, as it is so striking. The original Guildhall was built on this site in 1603. However, due to a fire around 200-years later caused by unruly celebrations for one of Wellington’s victories in the Napoleonic Wars, it then needed to be rebuilt.
Faversham Guildhall from Court Street
It was redesigned by Charles Drayson into the beautiful arched colonnade building you can see today.
It is in and around the sturdy wooden pillars and the well-trodden paving stones that Faversham Charter Market is held every week.
Faversham’s Charter Market is held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week, selling a range of local produce, collectables and other interesting items.
In addition, there are two monthly markets, ‘Best of Faversham Arts, Crafts’ and a ‘Food Market’ on the first and third Saturday of the month.
Faversham Antiques and Vintage Market is held on the first Sunday of every month, except September.
West Street, Faversham
If you can drag yourself away from the quaint Market Place, then head down West Street. This narrow pedestrian street is full of striking architecture. Centuries-old timber-framed dwellings lovingly cared for, charming homes with their overhanging upper levels all with so much character.
West Street, Faversham
Looking up West Street
The Sun Inn 14th-century pub
Along West Street, you’ll find traditional butchers, charming local stores, galleries, cafés and the Sun Inn which has been welcoming patrons since the 14th Century.
MB’s Food Hall along West Street
Kent rural road trip
Shepherd Neame Brewery
Shepherd Neame, Faversham Brewery
The magnificent sailing barges that are dotted along Faversham Creek were once used to import the malt into their riverside wharves. Then they would transport the final product up to their inns in London. Before motorised transport became widespread, horse-drawn drays were used to move the Brewery's ales throughout Kent.
Shepherd Neame Shop and Brewery Tours
As you stroll around the streets and lanes of Faversham, you’ll be stumbling upon one of Shepherd Neame’s inns or alehouses around nearly every corner. Why don’t you pop in for a bite to eat and sample of their local seasonal ales?
Albion Taverna along Faversham Creek
Abbey Street, Faversham
Strolling from Court Street you effortlessly saunter into Abbey Street, this historical road is full of charming Medieval dwellings. Overflowing hanging baskets, passion-flower creeping through the hedgerows and half-timbered houses you’ll immediately fall in love with.
Medieval homes along Abbey Street
Ancient timbered houses forming part of Abbey Street
This little region of Faversham was once the home of Faversham Abbey, founded by King Stephen in 1148. The abbey itself was demolished in 1538 due to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Arden House once the outer gateway to Faversham Abbey
A bit more info?
Standard Quay was the captivating part of Faversham that we had never discovered before. As we strolled to the end of Abbey Street, which almost looked like we had come to the end of the line, we turned left into Abbey Road. This led us down to the quayside, and I was dumfounded.
Oyster Bay House, Standard Quay
I never realised that this Medieval Creekside quay was there and not only that, it had been transformed into a charming oasis to visit. For over 500 years Standard Quay was a bustling maritime port with sailors and sea merchants vying for business.
Sailing Barge along Faversham Creek
Meadowlarks in the quayside Corn Exchange
Fast forward to today and the ancient Monk’s Granary and Victorian warehouses that would have witnessed the comings and goings of wool, oysters, hops, salt and grain, now have quayside restaurants, antique warehouses and local butchers and fishmongers.
Antiques stores in the Medieval Monk’s Granary
It was incredible to see an area, which in more recent years had seen decline be renewed and utilised for small businesses. Although this is still working quay with boatyards in operation.
Salt and Spice along Faversham Creek
We will definitely be heading back to visit the fishmongers ‘Herman’s Plaice’ as the selection of seafood sounded delicious.
Kent coastal road trip
Around the town
Strolling around Faversham, there are so many interesting snippets of history, tales to be told and thought-provoking facts.
In the heart of Faversham town and in keeping with its surroundings is The Royal Cinema designed in 1936 by Andrew Mather. This lovely cinema has been saved a few times from the brink of demolition and now has a true quirky, old-fashioned feel to it as you step into the foyer. Apparently, it is one of only two Tudorbethan cinemas to exist today, the other is in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
The Royal Cinema
St Mary of Charity, Faversham Parish Church
The historic medieval church in Faversham is St Mary of Charity, Parish Church. Its 18th-century spire can be spotted from some distance away. It is believed to be the second-largest church in Kent, which indicates Faversham’s importance during the Middle Ages.
Sir Philip Neame, recipient of the VC and an Olympic gold medal
I just have to give this astounding gentleman a mention, and if anyone’s life should be turned into a movie, then it should be Sir Philip Neame.
Not only did this man receive the Victoria Cross through fighting in the trenches in WWI. He went on to win an Olympic gold medal in Paris for shooting in 1924, he was mauled by a tigress in India in 1933. He then fought in the Second World War in North Africa, was taken prisoner of war in Italy in 1943.
In 1946 he was knighted and lived into his 90th year and died in 1978 in Selling, Kent. His medals and awards are held at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Along South Road, you’ll come across the delightful Almshouses. Originally built in 1723 for Six Poor Men, it was extended in 1863 and is still kept in immaculate condition today.
Other lanes to stroll around are Tanners Street, the west side of West Street to Stonebridge Pond. Also, cross over Faversham Creek at Bridge Road and take the riverside walk along Front Brents.
View from Front Brents across to Faversham
Maison Dieu, a 13th-century wayside hospital, is located just outside Faversham in Ospringe. This ancient flint timber-framed medieval hospital is believed to be the oldest village museum in Britain. Check opening times due to social distancing.
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