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Faversham Society News - April 2020

A printable PDF version of this newsletter can be downloaded from HERE

Chairman's Column

Harold Goodwin

Cleve Hill. The fight is not over. It is not hopeless. Apathy and fatalism are not the right response.

The technical appraisal of the developer’s plans for batteries and solar panels on the land between our creek and Graveney is complete. The Planning Inspectorate has passed its recommendations to Alok Sharma, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy. We don’t know what advice it has given him.

The Faversham Society supports solar generation. But the bottom line on Cleve Hill is that it is a dirty solar project that would give renewable energy a bad name if it were built. This is a local and a national issue. There is good reason to be very worried about the batteries. Please help us to persuade the secretary of state to reject the application. Come along to our meeting in St Mary of Charity Parish Church at 7.30pm on Monday, 30 March, sign our petition online or in the Fleur and make the time to write to Alok Sharma.

Full details are on the campaign leaflet reproduced below. We are handing out leaflets in Market Place on Saturday mornings through March. Come and say hello, join us if you can. Persuade and encourage your friends to sign the petition or write and object. They don’t have to be local to sign the online petition. You, and they, can help make a difference.

St Mary of Charity was packed on 22 February for an evening of accompanied and unaccompanied choral music presented by Faversham Music Club with six local choirs reflecting Faversham’s rich musical life. Each choir performed a couple of pieces before the interval with old favourites and new compositions around the theme of Waterways.

This was followed by the premier of David Knott’s Waterways a musical celebration of our environment “open skies, wide sea reach and dank marshland” with words by Joseph Conrad and Charles Dickens who wrote of it in Heart of Darkness and Great Expectations. Bringing together so many voices from six choirs demonstrated what Faversham can achieve when it pulls together. We should never forget that we make our own history and should battle on to continue to do that.

Our history makes us what we are. David Knott’s treatment of the Great Explosion in 1916 brought to life an important part of our history, an industry and an event which in part formed us.

As John Breeze’s work recording the biographies of explosives workers in Faversham demonstrates, gunpowder and later ordnance is in our family histories and our town’s history.

The two July Open Faversham community festivals will be richer if along with the talks, walks, exhibitions and event there can be music, drama, art and food. These are to be community festivals, an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate the coming of the railway, Victorian Faversham and the gunpowder. They contributed much to making, in Geoff Sandiford’s words Our Beautiful Town.

The Doddington History exhibition in the Fleur Gallery is a must-see. It’s on until the end of the month. Doddington is a village with a rich and fascinating history – don’t miss it. See below. Be sure to watch the video talk, which recounts the history of the village and brings it to life. It demonstrates what oral history has to offer and why it matters. One of the highlights of the month. Which village will be next? We would like to have at least one exhibition each year on a village’s history.

Our AGM is on 27 May in the Assembly Rooms with a talk by John Butler on Thomas Becket to follow. Please put a note in your diary. Your chance to elect the chair and vice-chair.

Contact Harold


17 March Planning meeting for July festivals, 7.30pm

21 March Historic Swale conference on Our Shared Heritage.

Ends 27 March Exhibition of 16th to 18th-century books, museum foyer

30 March Cleve Hill power station public meeting, St Mary of Charity Parish Church at 7.30pm

Ends 30 March Doddington history exhibition, Fleur gallery

17 and 18 April Members’ map collection viewing, Fleur hall, 10.15am to 4pm

27 May Faversham Society annual meeting, Assembly Rooms, Preston Street, Faversham, 7.30pm

War Memorial Garden

Harold Goodwin, Jonathan Carey & Ian Read

Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Cornfoot lived in Upper St Ann’s Road and was a member of the Faversham Historians Group. He was chairman of the Friends of the Cottage Hospital from 1981 until some time in the early/mid 1990s, when David Simmons took over. He published in 1985 a history of the hospital.

Cornfoot tells us that when the idea of providing a new hospital was mooted in the mid-late 1880s. Mrs Hall of Syndale offered a substantial donation for its construction. She offered the contribution on the understanding that it would have a garden that would provide a good outlook for patients and could be used by them for fresh air and calm healing. She, therefore, wanted the hospital to be on the outskirts of the town and in Ospringe but the trustees of the newly formed hospital charity (not to be confused with Faversham Municipal Charities) wanted a more central location.

The hospital was built on a former brickfield given to the trustees by members of the brewing Rigden Family, some of whom were among the founding trustees and officers of the charity. Despite her earlier misgivings, Mrs Hall paid for most of the construction costs in 1888, but when the hospital opened, there was no garden: that followed in the early-mid 1890s, long before the First World War.

Initially, the names of those killed in that war were placed on a board in the parish church. The side chapel was opened on 6 July, 1922, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Cornfoot recalls that in 1920 the trustees agreed there was a need to enlarge and improve the hospital and that these works should form part of the Faversham and District Memorial of the Great War. They worked with the District War Memorial Committee to raise funds so that building work could begin in 1921.

Cornfoot writes: “At the same time the Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers and Sailors (Faversham Branch) applied to the trustees for permission to erect a cross on hospital ground in memory of those who had fallen during the war; a proposal with which the trustees readily concurred. The possibility of placing the memorial next to the Guildhall was considered but rejected because it would interfere with the traffic.

“The Cross of Remembrance was erected on the piece of land facing the hospital, on the corner of Stone Street and Roman Road. The memorial cross was executed by J. T. Bruce of Faversham.

A review of the Faversham News from 1920 to 1922 reveals no controversy. The memorial was unveiled by Admiral Sir Hugh Evan-Thomas, Flag Officer Medway on 3 November. He had commanded a battleship squadron at Jutland. He also opened the cottage hospital extension. During his speech, he mentioned the 1916 Great Explosion. There is, of course, a separate memorial to the victims in Faversham Cemetery. The cross was immediately used as the focus for Remembrance Sunday as it has been ever since.

The garden remained in single ownership from 1891, passing in 1948 to the National Health Service. In December, 2016, the ownership was divided into two separate entries at the Land Registry – the main garden and the war memorial on the corner. According to the Land Registry, Swale bought the garden for £2,100 in December, 2016.

Antje Nicholls

Harold Goodwin

Antje and Martin Nicholls

Many of Antje’s friends from the society were at her funeral at Charing on 4 March and at the wake afterwards at Creek Creative.

The chapel was packed for a service which celebrated her life and allowed us to say goodbye. There were tributes from family and friends and at the wake there was a musical celebration too, many of her favourite songs were played by Martin and her friends and family.

The society knew Antje as a stalwart of our bookshop in Gatefield Lane, a loyal and understanding woman without prejudice. She will be sadly missed by many in Faversham at the Cottage Hospital and in the society. She volunteered for both.

Funerals are an opportunity to share and express our grief with others who knew the deceased. But as the Rev Simon Rowlands reminded us a funeral, and the wake that follows, is an opportunity to celebrate a life, too.

I had the privilege to know Antje as a neighbour, always with a friendly word and a twinkle in her eye. The celebration of her life in words and music and talking with Martin reminded me that we know so little of a life unless we are very close. Antje was a speech therapist, she and Martin moved to Faversham from Fordcombe, near Penshurst, six years ago.

Hilda Bertram and Major Henry Nicholls, whose friendship sparked a love match

A personal history that reflects our social history, they moved because the village was becoming a dormitory with little social life or sense of community. Antje and Martin found Faversham and a vibrant community which they quickly became part of enjoying and contributing so much to it. A reminder of just how important our community life is. Martin tells me that when they first discovered Faversham they said to each other, as they walked through the town: “This is fantastic”. And of course it is.

So why the photograph to the right? It both explains how Antje and Martin met and why they spoke of their “arranged marriage” and reminds us that the lives we and our friends and loved ones live are the fabric of our history.

This is why oral history and family photographs matter. The image on the front page is part of an official photograph recording the group of civilian officials and military officers responsible for restoring order and that no one starved in Flensburg in 1945.

Flensburg/Flensborg was at the heart of the Schleswig (Danish: Sønderjylland/Slesvig) and Holstein (Danish: Holsten) question a tale of two duchies.

The photograph above is of Antje’s mother, Hilda Bertram a gifted linguist, and Martin’s father Major Henry J Nicholls a musician and engineer who worked on radar before the war. Hilda was Henry’s translator, two families met and a marriage and children followed. It is a reminder that it is us, and people like us, who make history: a reminder that too often history is lost and that personal and oral history matters.

Faversham Society AGM

The Faversham Society’s AGM will be held in the Assembly Rooms, Preston Street, at on 7pm on Wednesday, 27 May. The formal notice of the AGM is published in this newsletter on page 5.

Nominations for trustees, chair and vice-chair are to be submitted no later than 7pm on 28 April, 2020. Forms are available now from the Fleur or online favershamsociety.org/2020-minutes-and-agm.

The 2019 financial year’s annual report and accounts, will be made available to all members by 12 May 2020. They will be available online or they can be collected from the Fleur.

Proxy forms will be available from 12 May and must be returned no later than 7pm on the 25 May (ie 48 hours before the meeting).

It is expected that the AGM will be brief and that once the formal business is conducted we shall hear from Professor John Butler, an expert on St Thomas Becket and the author of The Quest for Becket’s Bones. His illustrated talk will trace the history of pilgrimage to Canterbury, making reference to a rumpus in Faversham in 1420. This in the 600th anniversary of Beckett’s murder and the talk is not to be missed.

Our Shared Heritage

Harold Goodwin

The Our Shared Heritage fair and conference will be held at the Appleyard, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne, from 9.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday, 21 March.

Here are the speakers:

Historic Swale’s Aims and its Future, Richard Emmett
Swale Borough Council Heritage Strategy, Cllr Mike Baldock
Geology of the area, Harold Goodwin
Hidden History: Archaeology – Pre-History to Modern Era, Cllr Hannah Perkin
Pilgrimage and the Watling Street, Richard Emmett
Railways and the Growth of Swale. Liz Fuller
Maritime and Transport, Clive Reader
Development of the Towns and Villages (bricks, paper, gunpowder, brewing & agriculture), Keith Robinson
Swale and the politics of the A2, Mike Haywood
Defence of the realm and heritage, Simon Mason
Swale’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Nick Johannsen
Museums, Collections and Archives, Harold Goodwin
Migration Project, Justin Aggett
Heritage and Tourism, Cllr Monique Bonney
Question Time on the future of Historic Swale and Swale’s Heritage, panel of Richard Emmett, Harold Goodwin, Cllr Mike Baldock and Cllr Monique Bonney

The heritage fair will feature the following:

Newington History Group were formed to research the past of Newington and the surrounding area but also to record the present to leave an archive for the future.

Wheels of Time promotes Kent’s museums and heritage sites. Find out more about how children aged five to 11 can collect individual badges from 48 sites, and their families can join in the fun.

Borden Heritage Group will display items of local research and details on monthly meetings and speakers.

Swale Search & Rescue promotes the hobby of metal detecting and will have a display of finds and books.

Local historian Terry Matson will display family war medals and other Zulu memorabilia.

Faversham Town Council will be promoting the Magna Carta Legacy Project and selling Faversham in the Great War books.

The Medway Queen Preservation Society promotes the restoration and the history of the paddle-steamer known as was the “heroine of Dunkirk”.

Faversham Creek Trust will display information relating to the group’s activities that is dedicated to regenerating Faversham’s Maritime heritage.

Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewer and one of the oldest in the world. It has been on the same site, 18 Court Street, Faversham, and owned by only four families since at least 1573. Shepherd Neame has one of the largest commercial archives still in company hands in the southeast. It contains more than 500,000 letters, brewing books from 1797, cash books from 1815, balance books etc from 1848, thousands of property deeds from the 1600s and hundreds of plans, maps and photographs.

Historic Swale is an umbrella charity that supports member attractions and organisations in the three areas which make up the Swale district to collectively showcase the diverse and fascinating heritage that the borough offers. Leaflets and membership forms will be available.

Eastchurch Aviation Museum is a Sheppey-based site that promotes early aviation on the island. Come and find out more.

Faversham Society Archaeology Research Group will display the work and finds of Faversham’s community archaeology group and the evidence of an Anglo-Saxon smithery last year.

The Doddington Parish Library is being rehoused in a new reading room in Faversham Town Hall and the Faversham Society librarian will display some of the rare books.

Faversham Walks will be displaying details of their walks and encouraging you to come and be guided around the town – we have a new heritage map of the town, come along and pick one up. There is a wealth of heritage in the town.

Faversham Museum Group will be displaying some items from the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre and encouraging you to come and visit.

The Historical Research Group Sittingbourne will be promoting the Heritage Hub where its members display much of their research from their various research projects, including archaeology, archive records, and First and Second World War research. They will also have various books they have published on sale.

Friends of Milton Regis Court Hall help look after and promote a historic building that still stands proudly as an icon of the streetscape after almost 560 years. We look forward to welcoming you in 2020.

The Minster Abbey Gatehouse Museum is housed in a 1,000-year-old building on the highest point of the Isle of Sheppey and displays artefacts donated by islanders. Come and find out more.

Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway was built in 1905 to transport the raw materials required for the manufacture of paper for the local mills. Aside from the collection of historic steam and diesel locomotives, coaches and wagons, there is also a museum at the site. Come along and pick up a timetable for 2020.

Sittingbourne Heritage Museum will display a collection of artefacts, and their own publications will be on sale.

The Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum and Raybel Charters promotes the history of sailing barges in Milton Creek and the restoration of the sailing barge Raybel.

Kent Archaeological Field School is a Faversham-based school offering a range of archaeological subjects, both in the classroom and in the field.

Exchange Student

Genevieve Ellis

I am looking for an exchange for a 16-year-old French boy who would like to come to England this summer, any time between mid-June and the end of July. As well as living in a family, he would very much like to attend classes in an English school. His name is Louis Dumurgier and he lives in Paris in the 5th Arrondissement. In return, the English boy would be welcome to stay with Louis's family at a later date, either in Paris or in Normandy during holidays.

More information is available from me, Genevieve Ellis, on 01795 538789

Planning Committee

Anne Salmon

A number of applications were considered by the Planning Committee and the following comments will be submitted to the society’s board for consideration:

20/500169 Newton Place Surgery, Newton Road, two-storey rear extension for the creation of eight new consulting rooms and associated works and access provisions. Installation of a lift and conversion of pharmacy to three consultation rooms. This proposal should be supported because it would help to deal with the increase in population in the town. It is regrettable that the previously approved larger scheme was not able to be carried out at this stage.

20/500088 Land east of Love Lane, two-storey assisted living unit, providing 12 apartments together with associated access, parking, infrastructure and landscaping. This proposal should be supported because it is providing specialist housing for a particular need. The design is innovative and adds visual interest to Love Lane.

20/500502 Plots 25-29 Waterside Close, non-material alterations to SW/00/1235 including anthracite grey uPVC cladding for all five units. We do not object to the principle of this extension to the development: the principle has already been accepted and the extra units can be built under the provisions of the original permission. The cladding at first and second-floor level should be in a natural material. UPVC is not a sustainable material and is not suitable for use in such an exposed location. The houses would also be very prominent in views of the town from the marsh.

20/500619 32 Broomfield Road, single-storey rear extension comprising a kitchen and dining room. This sits forward of the front elevation of the neighbouring home and is a large extension that would erode the character of the group of buildings. The extension would also result in loss of amenity to the neighbouring property.

On sale at our bookshop

Paul Moorbath

The following books are on sale in the Faversham Society Visitor Information Centre bookshop.

Sauntering through Kent: a biography of Sir Charles Iggleston by Malcolm Horton and The Last Saunters. Published by Oakweald, £17.99.Charles Iggleston went round the county’s villages from the 1920s to the 1940s and carried his observations in the Kentish Express, which he owned and edited. Most of them were republished in a series of books but few were not – and the author has rectified this omission and added a biography of the prolific Sir Charles. Otterden, Luddenham and Oare are among those included in this edition, which is is illustrated with modern images as well as a selection of the original drawings and description of the villages today.

A Love of the Sea by Lesley Jameson. Published by Birch Leaf Books, £7.99. Since her girlhood, the author sailed on yachts from Whitstable in Faversham-registered boats. Later she sailed to more exotic locations such as Barbados and Galapagos and the Cape of Good Hope but then moved to the best place of all – Faversham.

The following books are in the popular Shire Library series at £7.95

Fire Engines, Eddie Baker. The history of fire engines from the 18th century to the modern day with many colour photographs and detailed descriptions of modern appliances.

Prefab Homes, Elisabeth Blanchet. A look at the factory-built housing erected in the 1940s and 1950s to replace housing destroyed during the Second World War. It is well illustrated in colour and looks at their design and internal features and the life of people in such houses as well as costs and planning aspects.

Family Cars of the 1970s, James Taylor. Loads of colour photographs of cars of the period. Lots of chrome and vinyl seats – oh, those scorching legs!

How can you help?

March 13, 2020

Faversham Society Newsletter

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All content © the Faversham Society. Reproduction permitted only with the written permission of the editor


The Faversham Society Newsletter is edited by Stephen Rayner, who is independent of the board.

Contributions are welcomed, and should be received by midday on the 15th of the month before publication, by email to favnewsletter@gmail.com. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Faversham Society or of the editor. All contributions will be edited and the editor’s decision is final.

Faversham Society Opening Times

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

The Faversham Society is a Registered Charity No 1135262 and a company limited by guarantee
Registered in England and Wales No 7112241

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