Spotlight on: Faversham
PUBLISHED: 17:41 03 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:41 03 April 2015
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
With a wealth of listed buildings, Britain's oldest brewer at its heart and its own copy of the Magna Carta, Faversham is one of Kent's most fascinating towns to visit
Faversham is definitely not short of claims to fame. The oldest market town in Kent, frequented by ancient kings and queens, it’s been an important port and was the cradle of the UK’s explosives industry in the 16th century.
It’s home to Britain’s oldest brewer, has a popular open-air swimming pool and, rather bizarrely, was a favourite haunt of Hollywood icon Marlon Brando.
Today the town is vibrant and unique; a close community based around a charming town centre and a sleepy creek in the heart of rural Kent.
Surrounded by orchards and farmland, the area is foodie heaven with a firm emphasis on fresh local produce at its many farm shops, market stalls, cafés and restaurants.
One of the best ways to see Faversham is undoubtedly on foot and there are a number of walking routes in the area.
Faversham Food Trails (www.faversham.org) are several circular routes studded with great local food and drink offers, and the Faversham Society (www.favershamsociety.org) offers regular guided walks exploring the town’s rich heritage.
With more than 450 listed buildings in Faversham, the society claims there are few places in England with more listed buildings per square metre.
Magna Carta 800
The Magna Carta was signed in 1215 and, thanks to the town’s important links as a market town frequented by royalty, Faversham was given its very own copy.
It is now working in partnership with other Kent towns as part of the Magna Carta 800 celebrations and is holding a number of events throughout the year.
The highlight will be the Magna Carta Rediscovered exhibition, a major touring exhibition celebrating Kent’s connections with the historic signing.
It will display for the first time Kent’s collection of charters and other important documents, and Faversham’s confirmation of the Magna Carta will take centre stage.
The exhibition will be held at the Alexander Centre throughout June. And Shepherd Neame is even brewing special Magna Carta ale in honour of the occasion. Visit www.faversham.org for more details.
Faversham was once one of Kent’s most important ports. Its sheltered creek allowing boats laden with cargo to bring it ashore was the very reason the town sprang up in the first place. It was at its height in the 19th century when locally produced bricks were being shipped from Faversham into London.
However, over the years industry has moved away and many of the quays and wharves have been redeveloped for housing.
Once a buzzing waterway filled with busy sailing barges, the creek is now quiet. But for the last four years a group called the Faversham Creek Trust has strived to restore the creek as a working waterway.
Refurbishing the old Purifier Building, the only surviving part of the town’s old gas works, to act as a training centre, workshop and community venue, the trust aims to regenerate the creek as a community resource, foster traditional boatbuilding skills, develop a training scheme for apprentice shipwrights and promote tourism linked to the town’s maritime heritage. Visit www.favershamcreektrust.com for more details.
Faversham’s oldest Masonic Lodge
Consecrated in 1764 in the reign of George III, the Lodge of Harmony is the oldest by far of Faversham’s three masonic lodges.
It commemorated its 250th birthday at the end of 2014 with a special meeting led by Lyndon Jones, Worshipful Masteof the Lodge. The Lodge was originally founded as what was known as an ‘antient’ lodge with a warrant dated 20 May 1763, which amazingly remains in its possession to this day. However, it transferred allegiance to the ‘moderns’ under a warrant dated 28 August 1764, which explains it is: “to be opened at the Ship Inn, Faversham”.
Like many masonic lodges, Harmony met in rooms in many other taverns, including The Two Brewers in Court Street and The Sun Inn in West Street.
It has been meeting at its current home, the town’s Elizabethan Grammar School – itself dating back to 1587 - since 1887.
James Horn, Wild Bread
Tell us about your business
I run Wild Bread, a community supported bakery which specialises in hand-made artisan sourdough bread.
Put simply, we make real bread with just three ingredients - flour, water and salt - which is then leavened by naturally occurring wild yeasts.
This is the original way of making leavened bread, before manufactured bakers’ yeast came along.
The ‘community supported’ bit comes from local people paying a month in advance for their bread and in return we deliver a loaf to their door every week.
How has it been received?
The response to Wild Bread has been truly amazing. In a couple of years we’ve gone from baking a dozen loaves in a single oven at home to using a kitchen space, very generously provided to us by Macknade Fine Foods, where we now produce around 250 loaves a week.
We were nominated by our customers and then shortlisted as a finalist for Food Producer of the Year in the 2014 Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food and Drink Awards, which was very nice.
We’re now taking on bigger premises at Macknade and are going to be launching a ‘Bread Bond’ scheme to engage the community more in investing in their local bakery, to make the business more sustainable and to keep up with the demand.
Tell us about your Faversham connections
I’ve lived here for about four years now. Faversham has a strong community spirit and a vibrant local food culture. There’s a traditional market three times a week and the Best of Faversham market every first Saturday of the month, both of which showcase the many fantastic local food producers as well as arts and crafts.
There are still a lot of independent businesses in Faversham and this is something the community works hard to preserve.
Your favourite places to eat?
The new micropub, Furlongs Ale House (07747 776200) in Preston Street, is very exciting. It has only recently opened, and is offering fresh, locally brewed real ales in an intimate and friendly space.
The café at Creek Creative (01795 535515) serves up some really tasty lunches made with local and seasonal ingredients. You can sit and appreciate the artwork in the gallery at the same time.
For more information, visit: www.wildbread.org
Faversham’s oldest Masonic Lodge
Consecrated in 1764 in the reign of George III, the Lodge of Harmony is the oldest by far of Faversham’s three masonic lodges. It commemorated its 250th birthday at the end of 2014 with a special meeting led by Lyndon Jones, Worshipful Master of the lodge.
The Lodge was originally founded as what was known as an ‘antient’ lodge with a warrant dated 20 May 1763 - which amazingly remains in its possession to this day. However, it transferred allegiance to the ‘moderns’ under a warrant dated 28 August 1764, which explains it is: “to be opened at the Ship Inn, Faversham”.
Like many masonic lodges, Harmony met in rooms in many of Faversham’s other taverns including The Two Brewers in Court Street and The Sun Inn in West Street.
It has been meeting at its current home, the town’s Elizabethan Grammar School – itself a building dating back to 1587 - since 1887.
Eating and shopping
If it’s a gastro pub you’re after, give the new Preston’s Restaurant a try. It’s set within the refurbished Chimney Boy pub (ME13 8PG, 01795 532007) and specialises in Kentish food.
Then there’s the popular Posillipo Italian restaurant (ME13 7LD, 01795 590580) and Faversham is also lucky enough to have one of the finest restaurants in the county, Read’s (ME13 8XE, 01795 535344).
The Saddlers coffee shop and restaurant (ME13 7AG, 01795 537927) has a good reputation, as has coffee shop and tapas bar Jittermugs (ME13 8NZ, 01795 533121). As a town with a famous brewery, there are lots of great pubs worth a visit, including: The Phoenix Tavern (ME13 7BH, 01795 591462), The Sun Inn (ME13 7JE, 01795 535098) and The Anchor Inn (ME13 7BP, 01795 536471).
Award-winning Macknade Fine Foods (ME13 8XF, 01795 534497) with its flagship food hall is based here and nearby shopping area Standard Quay features a garden centre, wine bar, tea room and shops selling homeware and antiques.
The town centre has such gems as Barley Mow (ME13 7AN, 01795 532903) gifts and interiors shop and The Hat Shop (ME13 7JB, 01795 227071).
And the Best of Faversham art, craft and food market, held on the first Saturday of the month, is a great way to buy from local producers and crafters.
House prices are relatively reasonable with detached five-bedroom properties priced at around £700,000, three-bedroom houses around £275,000, two-bedroom terraced homes around £180,000 and one-bedroom flats starting at £100,000.
Baldwin’s (01795 60502) and Geering & Colyer (01795 605007) are two of the estate agents with branches in the town.
Faversham is not far from Canterbury and can be accessed easily from the M2. The station has regular services running to London St Pancras and London Victoria, via Chatham, and towards the Kent coast towns of Dover and Ramsgate, via Canterbury. You can also get a train direct to Ebbsfleet International for a connection to the continent.
Satnav postcode: ME13 8NS.