Spotlight on: Faversham
PUBLISHED: 17:03 20 August 2014 | UPDATED: 17:03 20 August 2014
10 good reasons to visit this historic and always welcoming market town, home to Shepherd Neame - Britan’s oldest brewery
1 British beer
Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre and Brewery Tours (01795 542016, ME13 7AX) is based in a medieval hall house, adjacent to the original premises of Britain’s oldest brewery. There’s a shop, bar and guided tours that include beer sampling and you can see traditional brewing equipment (including mash tuns), displays of historic delivery vehicles, a collection of bygone pub signs, and the shop sells gifts, souvenirs, drinks and clothing.
2 Best of Kentish produce
Brogdale (01795 536250, ME13 8XZ) is home to the National Fruit Collection, the largest assembly of fruit trees and plants in the world, with 4,000 varieties of fruit including pears, apples, cherries and nuts, plums and quinces. There are guided tours and self-guided walks, a children’s play area, picnic and games space, even a couple of celebrity pigs. The Apple Festival is 18-19 October, with 400 apple varieties, live music plus local food on sale.
3 Clocks and greenery
Belmont House and Gardens (01795 890202, ME13 0HH) is a neo-classical house with the best private collection of clocks in Britain, plus mementoes of the Indian Raj. There are magnificent gardens, with a pinetum, grotto and Victorian greenhouse. Belmont Country Fair on 21 September has falconry, stationary steam engines, ferret racing, clay pigeon shooting and a dog show.
Top-rank places to eat include: Read’s restaurant with rooms (01795 535344, ME13 8XE; winner of Michelin awards) and the Three Mariners (01795 533633, ME13 0QA). Some splendid cafés are at Macknade’s Fine Food Store (01795 534497, ME13 8XF) and also the cosy Jittermugs Coffee Shop (01795 533121, ME13 8NZ). Great pubs include: The Sun (01795 535098, ME13 7JE) and the Bear Inn (01795 532668, ME13 7AG).
5 Explosives and nature
Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park (ME13 7UD) is an industrial heritage site, nature trail and wildlife habitat, with glades and woodlands where you’ll find plants, ferns and bluebells, butterflies, bats, moorhens and dragonflies. It is on part of the site of a former high explosives factory. The remains of the Gunpowder Works are the oldest of their kind in the world and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
6 Up the Creek
Faversham Creek (ME13 7BS) is a quaint waterway where you’re likely to see plenty of old boats and barges. It was once Faversham’s access point to the sea, which led to its becoming a corporate member of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports. Standard Quay is where the town meets the creek and near here there is TS Hazard, a warehouse named after an Elizabethan ship.
7 Gallery, museum & shop
Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre (01795 534542, ME13 8NS) is an ancient building that incorporates a museum, art gallery, book and gift shop, as well as the Tourist Information Centre. The museum has a Victorian ‘street of shops’ and 19th-century schoolroom and the art gallery features topical exhibitions. There’s also a tranquil, sheltered garden. The building houses the Doddington Parochial Library and the Marlowe Library.
8 Local villages
Oare is a picturesque village at the head of lovely Oare Creek, with St Peter’s church, an old windmill and three pubs. Painters Forstal has a small village green and is surrounded by orchards and fields. Ospringe has the 11th-century church of St Peter and St Paul, and Maison Dieu (01795 534542, ME13 0DW) the oldest village museum in Britain, housed in a mini monastery that dates back to the 1200s.
9 Peace and spirituality
Abbey Physic Community Garden (ME13 7BG) is a beautiful walled, wildlife-friendly community garden. It is run as a charity that exchanges a wide range of spray-free vegetables, fruits, plants and flowers for donations, and it’s a fine relaxing peaceful place to visit. Faversham’s parish church of St Mary of Charity has 16 medieval stalls with misericords, while the shrine of St Jude is a site of pilgrimage and a national shrine.
10 Beautiful buildings
Faversham glories in 500 listed buildings, many of which are in a large conservation area. There are plenty of 17th-century structures on Abbey, Court, and Tanner Streets, West Street has some ancient timber-framed houses and there are two medieval barns at Abbey Farm. The fine green-painted Guildhall is a
real landmark in the town centre, and
its upper storey is supported by timber beams to create an undercroft. It is part Elizabethan and part Regency in style. n