June and July have not been holiday months for society volunteers. We have been busy!
Lucie Neame and her team ran a successful Open Gardens on 30 June. We had 526 visitors to Fleur’s Georgian Garden.
Open Houses is a Faversham first: we ran the first Open House 50 years ago and this year we had more than 50 properties in the programme over three Saturdays: a monumental effort by Moyra Harding and Helen Albery and their team.
We’ll be holding a reception in November to say thank you to all those property owners, gardeners, stewards and Faversham Society volunteers who made the two events such a big success this year.
These two programmes are excellent examples of the celebration of our heritage. They offer informal high-quality education about gardens and houses, and they raise funds for the society.
David Melville, the society’s vice chairman, chairs the Faversham and Oare Heritage Harbour Group, which is working to regenerate the upper stretches of the creek and the basin and to bring back our boating and maritime heritage.
We met considerable enthusiasm from those who stopped to talk with us about the creek at our stall during the Nautical Festival. Our community archaeologists drew many to their stall to handle the finds and learn about Faversham’s history. This year’s summer dig in the grounds of the Market Inn has been particularly successful. They found the Saxons! More on page 8-9 and in next month’s newsletter.
We were pleased to hear that Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park has achieved the Green Flag Award and Green Heritage site accreditation; and to see how splendid the new planting in the flower beds looks where West Street crosses South Road. Fern Alder and her team have done a great job there.
The Cleve Hill hearings and the exhibition running at 12 Market Place have taken a great deal of a few people’s time, as we have marshalled our arguments and presented them to the inspectors in the hearings and the people of Faversham. We have been contrasting good and bad solar. See pages 6-7. The Cleve Hill exhibition is the first of four exhibitions that the society is mounting this summer. Please be sure to visit and if you can spare a few hours to steward any of the exhibitions, do get in touch. All run from 10am to 4pm. Here they are:
Bad Solar and Good Solar
23 July to 3 August
Faversham Natural Heritage: Environment and Wildlife Week
People and their Memories
Past, Present & Future
Tuesday to saturday 20-23 August
Our archaeologists have been looking for the Saxons since the group was formed by Pat Reid in 2004, and now they have found them.
A small excavation at the pub last year unearthed pottery and bones from deer and boar. FSARG has now dug a much larger pit and found pottery and large quantities of slag, which suggests that there was smelting on the site.
Chris Wootton is pictured cleaning some of the finds with two enthusiastic young helpers.
This August, as part of our Summer of Fun, we’re delighted to be running the Grandparent Thursdays scheme at the Faversham Fleur de Lis Museum.
We know how much grandparents and grandchildren love to spend time together and so, this year, on every Thursday in August, a child can bring a grandparent free to the Fleur. We want them to have a chance to spend time together, exploring the museum and enjoying learning about Faversham.
During August, there will be more activities to enjoy at the museum, including a free foyer exhibition and a special trail. Make sure you also look out for the “try me” and “read me” labels throughout the museum, where you can get up close to items from our collection.
So visit us and see what’s changed since you last popped in, find your favourite exhibit, try things on, share your memories, and sit and relax with a book while enjoying the Georgian shop front in the garden. And do let us know how you found your visit, what was great about it and what could we improve – we love your comments in the guest book and they are a great insight into how we can continue to develop the museum. We do hope you’ll get a chance to stop by this summer even if it is a quick visit to try the phones in the telephone exchange or say hello to the petrol pumps!
Keep your eyes posted on our website, Facebook pages and Instagram account for updates. And do share photos of your visit with us! A reminder of our opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday, 10am-1pm.
Chart Gunpowder Mills, one of Faversham’s unique assets, saved and restored by the society, is in danger of closing because we have only three or four volunteers to keep it going. We still have about 1,000 visitors each year, including several group visits, which are always friendly and the visitors amazed at what we have to show. All that is required is an occasional weekend afternoon stint. No special knowledge is needed. Please leave a message at the Fleur if you are able to help.
Faversham in the 1930s and 1940s
Faversham Paper No. 130, by Peter Stevens, 52pp £4.50
This is Peter’s 16th Faversham Paper and came about after Arthur Percival approached Peter to look back and write one on Faversham in the 1930s and 1940s, to provide “real-life information that never appears in ordinary books”.
This is the focus of the Society’s About Us series. Syd Twist remembered 1900-1910 (No 13), and Eileen English wrote
about 1900-1930 (No 20). Peter’s previous paper (No 44) covered Abbey Street in the 1930s and 1940s and he has now extended
this to more of the town with material on education, entertainment, transport, commerce, the cattle market in Whitstable
Road and the fur and feather market, the Coal Wharf, Island Lane the coming of the Canning Factory, TS Hazard and some of
the Johnson family.
There is much material on the Second World War and its impact on Faversham – this is the kind of history which is so easily lost, a reminder of why collecting oral history matters. Who now knows about Noah’s Ark (the one in Faversham), Hog Island, Pill Box at Graveney and the importance of the Marine Stores where rags, bones, bottles and rabbit skins were sold.
Peter Stevens has melded together a miscellany of personal memories with researched snippets to provide a vivid account of Faversham when it was “a self-contained little town where most of the population was born and bred”.
The culture of our town has been forged by previous generations. The society’s About Us series helps our understanding of our past. Who, though, will write of the 1950s and 1960s?
The Society has, with the Graveney Rural Environment Team (Great), opened an exhibition in 12 Market in Faversham about the Cleve Hill proposal. The Faversham Society supports alternative energy and wishes that it had been required on all the new houses being built around the town. It has not.This would be Good Solar, and we have included a wide variety of examples of alternative technology that could be installed on homes in the exhibition.
The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday, until 3 August. We are contrasting Good Solar with Bad Solar and, as we learn more about the proposed Cleve Hill development, we have mounting concerns about it. We have an opportunity to submit to the inspectorate again on 1 August, and we shall publish our submission on the society’s policy blog favershamsociety.org/blog/. Our previous submissions can be found there too. As we go to press, there are 10 submissions and there will doubtless be more. The developer’s agricultural land classification has been queried, and Matthew Hatchwell, one of our Environment Committee members, has pointed out that there are endangered eels on the site. At the first open floor meeting, Dr Pat Reid spoke about the archaeology, and Prof Chris Wright expressed our concerns about the construction traffic on the narrow country roads, the addition to congestion in the area as far as the M2 and the impact on the Graveney School and residents.
The Faversham Society made the case that there is virtually no detail in the developer’s proposals on the battery storage facility and quoted professional guidance on the risks of large-scale battery installations. The developers seemed unaware of this guidance from the Allianz Insurance Group, which concludes that “lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to thermal runaway and have been involved in several serious fires in the last few years”. We referred to fires in battery installations in Hawaii, Arizona and Belgium for which the fire suppression measures failed, and millions of pounds in damage resulted in each case. Others at the hearing raised the battery problems, including an analysis of the dangerous effect of highly toxic hydrogenfluoride gas on Faversham town in the event of a battery fire.
We have concerns about loss of recreational access and the visual impacts that will be widespread on Faversham as a market town with strong rural connections. At a time when the Faversham and Oare Heritage Harbour Group is working to regenerate the creeks and to attract boats, this will be made more difficult by the industrialisation of the marsh, which will be covered by what will look like a warehouse roof. The panels will be as high as 3.9 metres (12ft 9in). The Faversham Society pointed out the developer’s admission that “harm” is caused to the views of the Grade I-listed All Saints’ Church in Graveney in its unique rural environment. This is contrary to the National Planning Policy. Such “harm” must be balanced by the national need for solar power, and we do not believe that the applicants had made that case.
The society has pointed out that figures from the future energy scenarios of the National Grid have established that our maximum estimated future need will be met by small scale solar installations, which are already in planning, by 2022. This is the year that the Cleve Hill solar power station is due for completion, and so it is not needed to meet our energy needs.
Full details can be found in our policy blog on our website. The National Grid favours distributed generation over solar power stations. If you would like to see more detail on the objections and concerns that the Faversham Society has raised go to https://favershamsociety.org/category/cleve-hill/
There has been a good response to our exhibition. Only a few have come to argue that Cleve Hill is good solar, too. We beg to differ. In our view Cleve Hill is bad, dirty, solar. It has more in common with a power station than a traditional solar farm. The inspectorate will make its recommendation by 29 November. If it rejects the application, we can breathe a
sigh of relief. If it does not, or if the applicants appeal, we may need to mount a campaign to persuade the secretary of state to turn it down. There is a long way to go yet.
July is a busy time for Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group. At the time of writing in mid-July, the Nautical Festival is behind us and the excavation season about to begin on 13 July and ending on 28 July.
Running a stall at Nautical Festival was a real pleasure. Our stall was, at our request, opposite TS Hazard and the Town Quay and had on display medieval pottery found in 1965 while sinking the borehole of the Town Quay Pumping Station. There is no better place to be for the festival, with the boats and the music
and the many visitors buzzing around.
We met some promising young archaeologists who sorted a mixed heap of finds with great skill and we managed to puzzle a lot of Faversham people with the mystery gasholder out on the marshes. All in all, it was a lovely and happy festival, great thanks to our dear Lena for founding it and to Sue Akhurst and the Creek Trust for managing it now.
By the time you read this, we will know what the Market Inn field has yielded. This is a follow-on to our remarkable finds last year, which hinted at a high-status dwelling nearby. (See our report on the Market Inn, especially KP174, on www.community-archaeology.org.uk/ Investigations/ Hunting the Kings Manor).
On 10 July we held a pre-season meeting to make sure that all involved understood the historical setting and practicalities of the project, which is rather different from our usual keyhole approach. It’s fair to say that we shall have some exciting news for the September newsletter!
The Recreation Ground resistivity survey carried out in the early summer season is being written up and will soon be on the website. We have heard from several local people about air raid shelters that used to be there and we can identify some of these on the survey. Much more enigmatic, however, is a strongly marked line of broad V-shaped ditches, running east to west. Any ideas or memories? Contact John Clarkstone via the Fleur.
Finally, we are nearly up to date with our report writing. When you excavate six or more keyholes in a season, each needs its own report which makes for a lot of work! Digging and finds processing is a sociable pleasure but report writing can be a lonely and arduous activity, involving painstaking research.
At the time of writing, we are just coming to the end of the main summer season and it has been rewarding beyond our expectations. Not only have we collected large quantities of
metalworking slag, but we think we have the site of an iron working bloomery.
When all this has been cleaned and recorded (our post-excavation season is at the Fleur, from 12 to 23 August, Monday to Friday) we will be able to report much more fully and explain things like the glassmaking slag.
Meanwhile, it’s time for a very well earned rest for our team.
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Opening times for The Visitor Information Centre, Book & Gift Shops, Fleur de Lis Museum and Chart Gunpowder Mills vary throughout year. The latest opening times can be found on the right-hand panel of every page on the Society's main web site