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Faversham Society News October 2019

Faversham - a town for all seasons

This small gallery illustrates how Faversham is truly a town for all seasons

Making the most of Faversham's natural heritage

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"Making the most of Faversham’s natural heritage” is what people have been doing in this landscape for thousands of years. Indeed, its natural heritage – its coastal location, surrounding landscape and underlying geology – is why the town is here at all.

But what does that natural heritage consist of, how has our relationship with it changed over the centuries, how does it still benefit us today, and how can we ensure that it continues to provide benefits to our descendants in this rapidly changing world? Matthew Hatchwell will take a look at the town through the eyes of a wildlife conservationist.

There will be a collection to support environmental projects in Faversham.

19:30 Monday 28th October 2019 in the Fleur Hall, off Gatefield Lane

20 September to 7 October Views of the Marsh, the landscape, flora and fauna of the Graveney Marsh. Fleur gallery
27 September Barn dance in aid of Faversham Christmas lights appeal, Queen Elizabeth’s School, 7.30pm.
29 September Where’s Our Bridge, tea party, green by the Creek Bridge, 2pm.
11-28 October Boats. Barges and Coastal Craft of Faversham, art exhibition by Derek Cox. Fleur gallery.
15 October Memorial service and thanksgiving for the life of Sir Roger Moate, MP for Faversham 1970-97, St Mary of Charity Church, 2.30pm
18 October An Introduction to Graveney History, talk by Wendy Tate Mayfield with wine and cheese, All Saints’ Church, Graveney, 7pm
19-20 October Exhibition on Graveney’s history, All Saints’ Church, Graveney, 10am-4pm on the Saturday, noon to 4pm on the Sunday
28 October Making the most of Faversham’s Natural Heritage, talk by Matthew Hatchwell, until recently head of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, Fleur hall, 7.30pm
21 March 2020 One-day Historic Swale conference on the Swale, Swale and our Identity. Plus heritage fair, Appleyard, Sittingbourne

HAROLD GOODWIN - Chairman’s Column

David Melville and I represented the Faversham Society at the two final hearings on the application for a massive solar power station at Cleve Hill, Graveney. We shall be making written submissions and they will be available on our website (under the policy tab) shortly.

The Faversham Society favours renewables but we have grave concerns about the environmental impacts of this proposal and we are unconvinced by the argument that it is needed. Swale Green Party has also come out against this solar power station.

The Graveney Marsh is an important habitat for wildlife and recreational area. It is not wasteland. There are brownfield sites in the county that could be developed with a solar power station. FavershamLife ran a piece on maligned marshland on 6 September, take a look at favershamlife.org.

And don’t miss our Fleur Gallery exhibition celebrating the Graveney Marsh – photographs and art and some stunning aerial video of the area.

On 21 March next year, a combined conference and heritage fair on Swale’s identity will be held at the Appleyard in Sittingbourne. It will celebrate what we value about the borough’s natural and cultural heritage. Save the date!

Good Food and Companie

Faversham's Festivals are an important part of Faversham's culture and heritage

The Hop Festival is evolving, and there is much more emphasis on heritage again. The Hartley Companie was in town again this year as an important part of the Faversham Food Festival. They are committed re-enactors bringing to life what we know of medieval cooking and the ingredients, recreating tastes and smells and showing the cooking techniques used over wood fires. Bringing history alive is important to stimulate people's interest in, and appreciation of, history.

2020 Calendars On Sale Now

Faversham Society Calendars for 2020 are now on sale from the Visitor Information Centre priced at £5.20 each, which I’m sure you will agree represents excellent value and would make ideal Christmas presents. My thanks go to the photographers who have submitted images for the calendar. MARY RANSOM

If you have any recent photos of Faversham or the immediate surrounding area (ME13 postcode) and would like a chance to display them in future calendars, then we would love to see them. The images need to show Faversham at its best. We can’t pay you for your photographs, but if one of your images is selected your name will get a mention and you will be entitled to a free calendar.

To be in with a chance, all you need to do is submit one best-quality landscape format jpeg image per email to ransom@gmx.co.uk using the heading “Faversham Society Calendar”. You may send as many images as you like during the year but please only one per email. Please include your full contact details, where the photograph was taken and the date it was taken if possible. Images need to be received by the end of June, 2020, to allow us time to have the calendar printed and out for sale at the Hop Festival in September.

Thank you for your support of the Faversham Society.

Sunday Duty

We urgently need volunteers for Fleur de Lis Museum reception on Sundays, from 10am to 1pm. I am also hoping that there are people interested in keeping our museum looking good, working with others to reorganise displays, preparing for exhibitions, keep stored artefacts in good order, and reviewing archives.

There are many small jobs that all contribute to keeping Faversham as a special place and fulfil the society’s objective: to educate and inform the public in the geography, history, natural history, and architecture of Faversham and the surrounding area.

With all these activities, new volunteers are put alongside a more experienced volunteer curator, training is provided and we are fairly flexible about timings so, even if you have only a couple of spare hours a week, do consider helping us, joining a team, finding out more about Faversham, learning new things and contributing to the future!

Interested or want to know more? Leave a message for me, Heather Wootton, at the Fleur, or email Fleurmuseum@tiscali.co.uk.

Pat Reid -Archaeology Update

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The first research project by Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group’s 15 years ago was called Hunt the Saxons, or HSX05 to use our site code. We found evidence for mid Anglo-Saxon settlement (700-900AD) behind the Bull Inn near Stonebridge Pond and have since then found various bits and pieces around the town centre.

The archaeology of the Anglo-Saxons is notoriously difficult to spot. Most of their artefacts, including their buildings, were made of timber and other organic materials that rot in the ground.

In 2018, we were again looking for the Anglo-Saxons, this time trying to find the King’s manorial hall. Faversham, as I expect you know, was the “King’s little town”.

In 2018, one of our keyhole pits, KP174, in the grounds of the Market Inn, yielded some very interesting material – lots of animal bone, early Anglo-Saxon pottery and (this was the most startling of all) lots of iron smelting slag and baked red clay, hinting very strongly at an iron-smelting bloomery nearby. If you want to know more about the KP174 finds, you can find the Market Inn report on the FSARG website, www.community-archaeology.org.uk

In July, 2019, we returned to the Market Inn and opened up a large area, focusing it on the location of KP174. What we found was a large midden of animal bones (red deer, wild boar and cattle) overlying a small iron smelting bloomery, which itself was cut into an earlier rubbish dump.
Now, archaeologists love a good rubbish dump especially one like this, which is what we call a “sealed context”: since it was created, it has not been disturbed in any way, neither by ploughs nor house foundations nor ditch digging.

It contained not only masses of animal bone, slag etc but also hundreds of pottery sherds easily datable to the era 600-70. We also have a lovely bone comb fragment, a bone pin and some glass beads to go with the pin-beater (used in weaving) from KP174.

At the time of writing, mid-September, we have only just finished cleaning and conserving bulk finds, including pottery and our small finds. We are going to need to consult experts, such as the National Slag Archive in Shropshire, for some of the material. Before Christmas, we shall publish a preliminary report with a full report next year that sets these findings in the overall context of Anglo-Saxon Faversham.

Have we found the king’s manorial hall? Well, we’ve definitely found the royal rubbish dump – this is no peasant’s collection of waste. The question then becomes: how far away from the feasting hall would the king’s servants carry the rubbish? Let’s hear your ideas – because that really would give us a clue!

Thanks to Dave and Sue, landlords of the Market Inn, who were so supportive and encouraging throughout. It’s always great to dig in pub gardens as the public can share in the discoveries, and this garden was especially generous in size. Summer season 2019 was a truly memorable experience.

From Summer to Autumn - Fern Alder

The two flower beds flanking South Road have benefited from funding support from both the Faversham Society and Faversham Town Council.

Clearing and replanting and continuing care has been undertaken by Faversham’s volunteer community gardeners since October year. Over the summer, the beds had colourful floral displays. Now as the summer fades into autumn they are showing a more muted palette of colours, as shown on the front page of this newsletter. The beds will not be tidied up or cut down this autumn, but will remain as they are for the benefit of overwintering insects and birds. Nature is not tidy!

Some of the summer’s flowers will also get a chance to self-seed, and the soil will be protected. The grasses will continue to create visual interest as they move with the breeze.

Continuing care includes plans to plant more bulbs to add to next summer’s floral display. In spring the beds will be cut back, allowing new growth and summer colour to return.

The newly planted beds have this year been a part of Faversham’s In Bloom offering, as well as entering the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom, in the community category, gaining a level 3 award.

Society's Triumph - Dorothy Percival

During August our society put on four major exhibitions at 12 Market Place. A simple statement, but this was a triumph of planning, organisation and physical hard work by a huge band of volunteers, as our chairman said in the September newsletter.

I would like to add my appreciation as I enjoyed all four shows very much and learnt a lot too. During week one the contentious Cleve Hill Solar development was explored in all its aspects and the society’s reasons for opposing it were clearly and (to me) convincingly argued.

It’s easy to take for granted how luckily we are placed in the richness of the wildlife around, and in the town itself. We have easy access to sea, marsh, woodland and chalk downland. Vast numbers of plants flourish in our old walls, along the alleys and in the old basement areas.

Week two on our natural heritage was an illuminating reminder. Many wildlife groups, including Faversham’s own Natural History Group had set out stalls explaining their impressive educational and conservation work. A recently formed team of volunteers is doing important work to conserve local eels. The fascinating processes involved were all new to me.

Week three was an enjoyable excuse for some nostalgia. I overheard some amusing “do you remember?” and “where or who was that?” conversations and some good-natured disputes.

Visitors were offered a delightful opportunity to participate by adding Post-it stickers with the answers. Being Faversham, where long memories are legendary, there were a great many appearing!

Part of the last show had a chronological series of maps, showing the gradual outward growth of the town over the centuries. It made me wonder at what point of future expansion will we lose a town-centre-based sense of community. Certainly it’s a big question in planning, social and economic terms – and one to which our society is giving thoughtful consideration as was evident in these excellent exhibitions.

Between them they looked back to cherish the memory of how our beautiful town grew, and reminded us of the responsibility to enhance what we have inherited as sensitively as possible. Then to look forward to help create the best we can for the future.

I felt enormous pride that we showed such a positive public face with these exhibitions. We are engaging with the big development plans of the moment and that is encouraging for all our members. My thanks and appreciation for the organisers is heartfelt.

So many volunteers toiled away in preparations, working all through August too, that individual thanks are impossible. You know who you are and some rest and recovery has been well earned.

After Arthur died one of the many letters I received said: “When we look around in Faversham we see so much that has been achieved by the Faversham Society’s dedicated volunteers, so many battles have been fought and won.”

A reputation to live up to indeed.

The six-month battle to stop solar park at Cleve Hill - Anne Salmon

The Cleve Hill solar park examination ends in November after six months. Most of the discussion between the developer and other bodies, including Kent County Council and Swale Council, plus objectors, has been in writing.

A series of hearings were held in July, including a site visit and open-floor hearings. The second round of hearings took place in the week starting 9 September. No more hearings are intended, but there are several more deadlines for representations and updating the documents that explain and control the development. Many of these have already been modified several times and are still being negotiated through the examination process.

Before and during the examination, the developers have been working with the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Natural England and the Kent Wildlife Trust on a habitat management steering group.

This discusses the development’s impact on biodiversity and the creation of mitigating habitats for specific birds, improvement of ditches and the management of the site for wildlife. It is intended that this group will continue to monitor the impact of the scheme if it is approved. This means that issues relating to the creation of an arable reversion habitat management area at the east end of the site as grazing marsh designed
for brent geese, lapwing and golden plover together with other managed grassland areas have largely been resolved.

The site is near Graveney village and its outlying hamlets, including Broom Street. These contain a number of important listed buildings including All Saints’ Church (Grade I), Graveney Court (Grade II), and Sparrow Court (Grade II). Listed buildings also overlook the site, including St Peter’s Church, Oare, Pheasant Farm and Pheasant Barn (all Grade II), Oyster Bay House (Grade II), the Shipwrights’ Arms at Hollowshore, and St Thomas’s Church, Harty.

Historic England has made representations about the Graveney listed buildings and their settings and is not happy with the level of “less than substantial harm” that the scheme will have on the setting of the listed buildings.

Graveney Residents’ Environmental Action Team (Great) has engaged its own heritage expert and made representations about the impact of the development on a greater number of listed buildings. The site is also next to Graveney Conservation Area and would harm views from the conservation area. The lack of agreement over the level of harm is also a matter that could be decisive because this has to be weighed against the need for the scheme.

The developers have prepared a set of photographs of the site now and montages at one year, five years and 10 years, showing the impact of proposed planting in hiding the view of the solar panels from a selection of viewpoints. They were also asked by the examiners to prepare sections through the site to show whether the solar panels and battery enclosure would be visible from a number of viewpoints.

There is still no agreement about the level of harm to views of the area. The issue of whether there should be screening at all is also not agreed. More sections have been requested showing the height of the panels and bund relative to the height of listed buildings and other distinctive elements on the skyline.

There is considerable concern among the objectors about the safety of the lithium-ion batteries that would store energy in a bunded enclosure near the road to the London Array substation. A Swiss specialist company told the hearing about the enclosure of battery cells in containers and the spacing of the containers. It was, a representative said, easily possible to scale up from smaller battery enclosures to create what would be by far the biggest scheme in Europe.

Standards of safety for battery schemes are a work in progress that are being developed rapidly and may evolve before the scheme would (if approved) be put in place. The company, which is negotiating with Kent Fire and Rescue Service about managing site safety, also said it had no contract with the developers and would not necessarily be employed by them.
The developers have prepared a construction traffic management plan setting out levels of traffic including heavy goods vehicles. They also set out the route that site vehicles are expected to use and the number and frequency of vehicles. The route to the site from the A299 includes Head Hill Road and Seasalter Road which passes through Goodnestone and Graveney.

The route includes a narrow railway bridge set on an angle and passes a school with its playing field on the opposite side of the road. The church and village hall are also on the opposite side of the road from most of the houses. The number of vehicles is substantially more than for the construction of the London Array substation, which attracted some funding for a new school car park in compensation.

Large numbers of vans would also take staff to and from the site. The hours of operation are 7am to 7pm, with one hour either side for staff to travel to or from the site.

The examiners’ report will be submitted to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy by February 2020. At present, this is Andrea Leadsom, but a general election is expected in November, and anything could happen.

There will be an opportunity for campaigning against the scheme as a whole, taking into account the above matters and any other issue that still remains unsatisfactorily resolved to try to persuade the secretary of state to reject the scheme, if the examiners recommend it for approval.

September 26, 2019

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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.

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