10 good reasons to visit Faversham

PUBLISHED: 21:54 23 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:46 20 February 2013

10 good reasons to visit Faversham

10 good reasons to visit Faversham

This beautiful working market town surrounded by open countryside celebrates its annual Hop Festival in September

10 good reasons to visit Faversham

This beautiful working market town surrounded by open countryside celebrates its annual Hop Festival in September

At the Hop

The Faversham Hop Festival (1-2 September) recreates the annual hop picking holiday taken by thousands of Londoners in the past. Theres street theatre, colourful processions, Morris dancing, performing dance troupes from across the UK, concerts, ceilidhs, exhibitions, craft stalls, childrens entertainment and live music in town pubs as well as on three stages: Market Place, Court Street and Preston Street ,

Britains oldest Brewery

Shepherd Neame Visitors Centre (01795 542016) is in a medieval hall house, alongside the original premises of Britains oldest brewery. You can join a guided (evening) tour and learn how ales and speciality lagers are brewed, view traditional mash tuns, taste malted barley and hops, and see displays of historic delivery vehicles, collections of bygone pub signs and much more. The Brewery Shop sells beer-themed gifts, souvenirs, clothing and drinks.

Heritage and Art

Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre (01795 534542) incorporates the Tourist Information Centre, a museum, art gallery, book and gift shop. The museum has displays encapsulating 2,000 years of Faversham history, including a Tudor merchants chest, Victorian schoolroom and a street of shops, while the art gallery features topical temporary exhibitions. This ancient building also houses the Doddington Parochial Library, and the Marlowe Library (volumes of Elizabethan/Jacobean drama).

Up the Creek

Faversham Creek is a fantastic place to see old barges and boats, notably at Standard Quay. This waterway was once the core of Favershams prosperity, its sea links leading to membership of the Cinque Ports. Where the creek joined the sea there were oyster beds, which were harvested until the 1930s by the Faversham Oyster Fisher Company. Dont miss TS Hazard, an interesting warehouse named after an Elizabethan ship.

Ancient village museum

Maison Dieu (01795 534542), at Ospringe, is the oldest village museum in Britain, housed in what was once a 13th-century mini monastery that gave accommodation to Canterbury pilgrims and royalty travelling to and from the continent; among the eclectic exhibits are Roman finds. Belmont House (01795 890202) is a magnificent Georgian mansion, with the finest clock collection in the country, excellent paintings and objets dart, and its surrounded by beautiful gardens.

Where to eat and drink

Renowned Reads Restaurant (01795 535344) is Michelin starred and theres excellent food and great ale at the Three Mariners (01795 533633), while near the creek is the splendid Albion Taverna (01795 591411). Good gastro pubs include The Bear Inn in the Market Place (01795 532668) (500 years old and in the Good Beer Guide) and The Sun (01795 535098) in West Street.

Fruit and Festivals

The Brogdale Collection (01795 536250) is home to the National Fruit Collection, the largest assembly of fruit trees and plants in the world, and offers guided tours or self-guided walks. Among the crops are: apples, pears, cherries, plums, cobnuts, strawberries and quinces. Theres a Cider Festival on 22/23 September, where you can watch traditional cider-making demonstrations, see birds of prey displays, shop at craft and produce stalls and hear live music. Theres also an Apple Festival on 20/21 October.

Green Guildhall

The semi-pedestrianised historic town centre includes Middle Row, Market, Preston, Court, West and East Streets. The splendid green-painted Guildhall has its upper storey supported by beams to make an undercroft, and the nearby 1930s Royal cinema is one of the only two Tudorbethan-style cinemas in the country. The Market Place has weekly markets and there are some ancient timber-framed cottages along West Street.

All thats holy

The Shrine of St Jude in Tanner Street is nationally renowned and a site of pilgrimage, St Jude being one of the apostles and patron saint of difficult cases. The Parish church of St Mary of Charity has a medieval painted column dating from 1306, and also 16 medieval stalls with finely carved misericords. When Faversham Abbey was destroyed it was rumoured that the remains of King Stephen were transferred to the St Marys Trinity chapel.

Guns and bluebells

What was once Oare Gunpowder Works (01322 384848) is now a country park and nature trail, and still contains the remains of the former gunpowder factory, abandoned in 1934. It has been developed as a wildlife habitat while preserving the remaining works structures. There are glades, woodland and wetlands where you can see plants, ferns and bluebells, as well as bats, butterflies, dragonflies and moorhens. Chart Gunpowder Mills (01795 534542) have been restored by the Faversham Society and you can see models of mill machinery.

Getting there

Faversham is near the north Kent coast, south west of Whitstable, and around 53 miles from London. It is about half a mile from Junction 6 of the M2 (from M25 take Junction 2, alternatively Junction 4 for the M20, leaving at Junction 7). There are good rail links to London (70 minutes) and Kent, plus a high-speed service to St Pancras.

Satnav postcode: ME13 8NS

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