A printable PDF version of this newsletter can be downloaded from HERE
This newsletter is later than usual. We delayed finalising it until it became clear what the Covid-19 precaution rules would be from 2 December.
We have some great Christmas presents. We are pleased that the Fleur shop will open from 7 December: Sunday to Thursday, 10am to 1pm; Friday and Saturday 10am to 4pm. The remainder of the building remains closed. We are grateful to all our volunteers for reopening so quickly.
The second-hand bookshop in Gatefield Lane will be open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm from Wednesday, 2 December. The Gatefield Lane shop will have heritage maps available, society calendars and the Our Beautiful Town DVD (see below).
We shall have a “market stall” at 12 Market Place from 10am to 2.30pm on Saturday 5, 12 & 19 December. Please come in and say hello. We shall have calendars and the Our Beautiful Town DVD, along with some other Christmas items for sale and we shall be giving away copies of the Faversham Eye containing details of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The pandemic has encouraged many retailers to move online, and I am pleased to say that we have created an online shop. You can now buy online a calendar, Our Beautiful Town or a gift membership for a friends and family.
The society’s Save our Heritage campaign has begun (see below). We are working on pithy significance statements for the TS Hazard and Town Quay cluster and the railway sheds and turntable area between the two railway lines as they leave Faversham to the east.
These two clusters of listed buildings are important to our heritage and bring opportunities for regeneration, community benefit and tourism. Our campaign will launch in earnest in January.
Clive Foreman will be giving a talk, Faversham on the Map, a survey of how Faversham has been mapped during its history, on Wednesday 27, January, at 7.30pm. The talk will be on Zoom. Further detail in the next newsletter.
I have, like many fellow residents, been walking the streets of Faversham and some of our surrounding countryside to get some exercise during the lockdown and other Covid restrictions. Out town has not surprisingly attracted a lot of day visitors who have come to explore our built and natural heritage. Unfortunately, they have contributed little to the local economy with pubs, cafes and restaurants closed. In this edition, we have also included information about our town walk.
I hope you think the wait for this newsletter has been worth it In this issue, we tell you about a talk on Faversham’s black history, progress on the 20’s Plenty campaign that will make the town a safer place, the new St Mary of Charity bells and a new edition of A Year in the Life of Faversham.
At Christmas, many of you will be making some hard choices about who we include our bubble, and there will be others in no one’s bubble. I hope that you are able to have the best possible Christmas and new year in this, the “year of the plague”. Please look out for those on their own over Christmas.
The guerilla knitters have been out again and created these imaginative Christmas scenes on top of pillar boxes in the town. The first one is at the main post office in East Street whilst the second one is in Abbey Street.
We did our best to get a good Faversham Tree Week programme together when the new tier 3 restrictions put paid to our real-time plans and most of our events are now online. There’s still time to join in!
If you google “Faversham Trees Group” you will find links to these Zoom events.
1 December. For one day only – go and see the tree labels all around Faversham Rec. Organised by Ben Simon and Lewis Monger of Swale Council.
1 December, 7.30pm. Helping the eels in Faversham – a talk by Matthew Hatchwell, former director of conservation at London Zoological Society, who has led a project to get our eels back up into fresh water.
2 December, 7.30pm. Tree Walk along the Westbrook by David Carey of the Kent Tree & Pond Wardens group, & Hadlow College.
3 December, 2pm. Would you like to be a tree champion in the Faversham area? What’s involved? Informative webinar by David Carey from the Kent Tree and Pond Wardens Partnership.
3 December, 7.30pm. Making Inks from Trees, by Amanda Thesiger, local artist. Back by popular demand.
4 December, 7.30pm. Traditional Wood-meadow landscapes, by Dan Carne of the WoodMeadow Trust.
5 and 6 December, 10am-3pm. Planting with trees for farms at Conyer. To take part, email Mary at: email@example.com. This is an event suitable for families, under strict distancing and hygiene rules. Please say what hours you could do, whether you can dig, plant, take photos, or help in some other way.
Faversham Town Council has trees for you to take away details on its website.
Antony Millett leads our group of volunteers who provide, in normal times, our Walking with History programme of guided walks. These are not normal times.
The Faversham Society has some excellent resources for self-guided walking tours of the town. Go to our website (www.favershamsociety.org) and click on the “heritage map & guide” panel and you will find a downloadable heritage map. Free paper copies of the map can be collected from the second-hand bookshop in Gatefield Lane.
If you click on the Walking with History link, you will find leaflets on the Gunpowder and Magna Carta Town Trail walks, and five audio recordings of town walks with Antony – they’re great to listen to.
Fans of Kent history and culture who are missing their usual diet of talks and events will have something new to occupy them during the winter ahead. It comes courtesy of a Man of Kent, John Bunyard, who recently curated an exhibition of sporting and social history at Maidstone Museum.
It drew so many visitors from across Kent and beyond that it has suggested this new, broader project. Old Bunyard‘s Kent Pride is an encyclopedic online tribute to the county, with a strong historical emphasis. It runs to about 175,000 words, equivalent to a 500-page book, and contains more than 1,000 entries, each accompanied by a picture. There is also a handy linked index.
It is free to access, demands no registration, and has no advertising. Old Bunyard says: “The Kent Messenger originally announced it as something to help people get through the lockdown, but it has evolved into a readable resource, something more like a present-day supplement to Hasted. “Though the format necessarily means that each entry is concise, I hope it will give readers plenty of ideas for in-depth study”.
Old Bunyard‘s Kent Pride, contains a good number of entries concerning Faversham and, apart from its value as a digest, offers an agreeable way to pass the time.
I’m researching Charles Donne, vicar of Faversham 1866-1900, and his second wife, Augusta Rigden, of the brewery family. Can anyone assist with any possible sources of information? Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks to everyone who has contributed stories for the Faversham Rec oral history project. More recollections of this lovely community space are still wanted, including childhood memories of playing in the park, the park keepers and sports.
A special request is being made for anyone who can remember the Preston Malthouse when it was in operation to get in touch, and can you recall the goods yard and railway to the creek or the cattle market on Whitstable Road?
If you can help tell the story of the Rec, or have old pictures of the site that could be copied, please contact me, Ben Simon, activity co-ordinator at Swale Council. This is the perfect project for lockdown – all it requires is a chat on the phone which is recorded and then transcribed.
079251 48303, email@example.com
You will be pleased to hear that calendars for 2021 are now on sale from the second-hand bookshop in Gatefield Lane priced at £5.20 which is excellent value for money. They make ideal Christmas presents. If you wish you can also purchase online via the Society web site.
Photographs are welcome for the Faversham ME13 area for possible inclusion in the calendar. The images need to show Faversham at its best. If one is selected, your name will get a mention and you will be entitled to a free calendar.
Please send one best-quality jpg landscape format image per email to firstname.lastname@example.org typing “Faversham Society calendar” in the subject line. You may send as many images as you like but please include only one per email. Include your full contact details, and where and when the photograph was taken. Images need to be received by the end of June.
Get your cameras ready for 1 January, 2021. Kent Creative is launching the fifth edition of our community photography project in Faversham.
Our goal is to showcase life in Faversham throughout 2021 with 365 photographs –one for each day of the year – taken by residents. We will assemble the photographs into a free exhibition and a book in 2021, Faversham residents will be encouraged to capture how they live, work and play, events taking place in the area and also hidden activities that not everyone notices or gets a chance to see. Visitors to the town will be invited, too, so that the project offers different perspectives.
Three hundred books will be produced.
A free exhibition will take place in the town centre in Faversham Town Council’s gallery space at 12 Market Place during the hop festival weekend in September 2022.
What we want to achieve
A Year in the Life of Faversham is designed to get people together in the town so they bring the community to life through photography. This project contains the ingredients that make a community: friendliness, originality, authenticity, pride and sense of place, while encouraging creativity. This is a significant step towards an increased appreciation of the town and its communities.
We aim to deliver a high-quality experience, within the constraints of the times. We want visitors to be charmed by the variety, authenticity and aesthetics of the photographs, what they show of people’s lives, their environment, the events that animate the town over the seasons, the businesses that energise it and the places that surround it.
2021 will be a special year indeed. We have not experienced a break in our habits like the Covid-19 crisis.
The photographs in this project will be a testimony to the town at the end, perhaps, of an historical era. Even though the physical appearance of the town is unlikely to change suddenly, the concerns of those living there may be different after this crisis in health, culture, economy, finance, social life, ecology and politics.
This project is all the more important as a collective memory and social record, using the power of images as a means of expression, documentation and communication. It feels vital to record it for posterity, so we will pass the photographs on to the Faversham Society archives for future preservation. With this is mind, we are planning to collect a selection of images of the year 2020 as well, the year that has seen the beginning of the pandemic, two lockdowns and the biggest changes that we have witnessed so far.
We also want to:
All information about how to take part is here: www.kentcreativearts.co.uk
Hugh Perks, who has died at the age of 81, has long been a familiar figure in Faversham. In recent years many will have seen him, a stooped figure wheeling an invalid trolley, which miraculously opened out to provide a seat and shelf for his sketchbook.
From a carefully selected viewpoint he made sketches of many of the ancient and historic buildings of the town. At the same time he had the opportunity to greet his many friends passing by. Accuracy of sightline, perspective and architectural detail were of great importance, and he returned home to Eastling, often by bus, to convert these sketches into striking and detailed line drawings.
Hugh was a man of many parts. Born in Bedford, where his father was a land agent, he early developed a passion for the sea, Having attended the Merchant Navy training school, HMS Conway and then crewed on a trawler from Grimsby to the Faroe Islands and briefly on a Thames barge. At the age of 17 he signed on with a ship that took him to New Zealand, returning as a mate on trading vessels, but his heart was already in barges and, knowing that the commercial Thames barge trade was fast coming to an end, he spent the next three years sailing and skippering Thames barges, between the London Docks, then also in decline, Harwich, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth, and no doubt Faversham.
In later life he developed an encyclopedic knowledge, not only of the history of barges and the barge trade, extending back into early times, but also of other ships working the Thames Estuary. He remained an active and prized member of the Thames Sailing Barge community, generous with his knowledge and experience, and a member of the Association of Bargemen, and even after he was no longer able to join the annual Thames Barge Match, where he had sometimes served as officer of the day, he and his wife Susie would drive to Tankerton Slopes to see the craft pass by.
Hugh wrote many articles for various publications about shipping, fishing and traditional sailing vessels of the Thames Estuary. Not long before he died, when using his laptop had become difficult, he determinedly wrote a review of a fine new book on the barges of Maldon. His great legacy for Faversham is his three Faversham Papers: Sailing Smacks of Faversham (No 108), Sailing Barges of Faversham (No 129), Sailing Coasters of Faversham (No 132), the latter published in 2019. These thoroughly researched papers not only catalogue and relate the history of these vessels but cover and illustrate the whole history of Faversham Creek.
He gave several lectures to the Faversham Society on the Creek and its shipping and also on the Maison Dieu.
Indeed, Hugh’s other passion was architecture. After skippering barges at a very young age and then National Service, he trained and qualified as a chartered building surveyor, becoming an expert on churches and other medieval buildings in particular and their conservation.
In due course he moved into the academic field, lecturing at Anglia Polytechnic University, now Anglia Ruskin University, at their campuses in Cambridge and Chelmsford and at the University of Kent at Canterbury, but a great pleasure was not only teaching students, aided by his evident enthusiasm, but taking them on field trips to see historic buildings.
One of his favourite churches was the little church at Harty on the Isle of Sheppey, which he and his wife would visit often. His love of churches also instilled a deep faith, which led to him becoming a reader in the Anglican Church, frequently taking services at Eastling, Stalisfield and Throwley, and also sustained him in his recent illness.
We offer our condolences to his wife Susie, herself a descendant of a long line of Essex mariners, who looked after him tirelessly in these difficult times.
The Faversham Society is making progress in developing Faversham's heritage at TS Hazard and the Town Quay. The idea is to bring both back into the ownership of the town through a trust or something similar.
There are also opportunities to conserve and bring back into some form of use the engine and carriage sheds (above) and the turntable, which are overgrown and semi-derelict near the Long Bridge over the railway line.
These buildings are all important parts of our heritage but they have been neglected. A meeting was held this month and plans are in hand but we would welcome more help. If you are interested in the future of these buildings, contact me on email@example.com
Across Britain there is a renewed interest in examining and understanding the history of how people of colour have been treated throughout our history. For example, the National Trust recently published a report detailing which of its properties were funded by the proceeds of slavery.
Parliament’s joint committee on human rights has just published a report on Britain’s failure to give equal protection to the rights of the black community. The Swale Migration Project is collecting the stories of people who have come to the borough from all corners of the globe. And local “Stand Up to Racism” groups are forming across England, Faversham included.
But what do we really know about Faversham’s own racial history? If you’d like to find out, please join us on Wednesday, 9 December, at 7pm for an online discussion with three local historians, examining what we know, and what research remains to be done, about Faversham’s own racial history. They are:
All three guest speakers have emphasised how much research remains to be done, especially in the Faversham area; if you are a historian, do come along to pick up some pointers! There will be ample time for questions from the audience.
This lecture will be given over Zoom. Tickets are available from eventbrite.com/e/favershams-black-history-what-do-we-know-tickets-130416686821, or you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
You will have noticed that the bells of St Mary of Charity Church have fallen silent. We have carried a picture and a report in previous issues about their removal for renovation and I thought I’d update you about what is going on. I live nearby and miss their punctuation of the week.
The bells should be back for Christmas. Two additional bells are being added to create a peal of 10 – made possible with a generous bequest. The clock will now chime the hour and quarters with the Westminster chime – the same as Big Ben.
The first quarter will be marked by four notes, the half by eight and the third quarter by eight. On the hour, 16 notes will be followed by a toll on the deep tenor bell for each hour between 8am and 8pm.
The bells have a long history. In 1300 a ban was placed on services in the church, including the ringing of bells, after a riot in the church.
There is a list of all 65 valid peals that have been rung since May, 1749. The most recent quarter peal was rung on 11 January, 2020, for 48 minutes: a 1344 Iridium Surprise Major. The eight ringers are listed.
St Mary’s bells have been removed to the Loughborough Bell Foundry of John Taylor & Co. They will be tuned to match the 1930 Gillett & Johnston sixth bell. Two new treble bells will be cast to augment the ring and all 10 bells will have new fittings.
The 1797 oak bell frame will be strengthened and an upper-tier two-bell frame extension will be manufactured and fitted into the fabric of the tower to house bells three and four. All-new galvanised steel access ladders and walkways will be manufactured and fitted to provide safe access to the bells, roof and clock dials.
The impetus for 20mph in Faversham dates from a community campaign launched in 2015, after two fatalities on zebra crossings and a hit-and-run incident involving a schoolchild.
With 119 casualties in five years, childhood obesity levels in one ward among the highest in the country and with an air quality monitoring area showing pollution levels that represent a significant health hazard, the Faversham Society was among the first organisations to recognise the importance of 20mph.
Further support for the campaign swiftly followed from Faversham Town Council and from Swale’s joint transport board.
An exercise where community members highlighted problem areas on a “red dot” map led to an outline plan being developed. This plan focused on signs and less intrusive traffic-calming measures such as kerb build-outs and “community corners” which are both effective and look better than heavily engineered solutions.
Further consultation with Faversham residents and detailed design work led to Kent County Council agreeing to implement a 20mph speed limit.
The scheme had three key objectives:
The town council 20’s Plenty Committee, comprising councillors and campaigners, has worked with the community to understand concerns and possible solutions.
Where we are today
The original plan had been to draw up a 20mph scheme for the whole of Faversham, consult on the proposals, amend where appropriate and then seek the funding to implement the full scheme. In the event, funding became available from the government sooner than expected, but conditional on being spent quickly. This prevented full engagement with residents first and meant trimming some of the proposed interventions.
Given the long-term support for 20mph in Faversham from the community, KCC and the town council decided to accept the available funding, to exclude the more complex interventions in the first instance and then consult on the scheme during the six-month experiment. We are now almost halfway through the trial and, while positive behavioural change has been seen, more needs to be done.
Feedback so far
Feedback from market stalls, the 20mph Faversham social engagement site and from emails and phone calls shows that most residents support the scheme. Suggestions for improvements will help to prioritise adjustments needed to achieve its objectives.
Concerns about road danger and suggestions for improvements are spread across the town, but locations that have attracted particular attention include:
The list of potential interventions is being finalised, but could include:
Once finalised, we will present a package of possible enhancements to the community, including members of the Faversham Society, to understand which are most important to you.
How you can help
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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