If you love Faversham, join us. We seek to Cherish the Past, Adorn the Present, Create for the Future

Faversham Society News - September 2021

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

Chairman's Column


The prosecution of Southern Water has been covered widely in the national and local media. Southern Water, which runs Faversham Sewage Works, was recently ordered to pay £90 million in fines for widespread pollution after pleading guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges.

Faversham was not included in the case, but that is not to say that there have been no unpermitted sewage discharges here. There has been genuine concern about sewage pollution in Faversham Creek and the Swale for several years.

The discharge pipe from the works goes into the creek and waste moves in and out on the tide.

At the beginning of August, a raw sewage spill polluted the Cooksditch; maintenance appears to have been poor for many years.

At our AGM on 7 September, we need to discuss what the Faversham Society might do to campaign for a better standard of sewage management in our town to benefit both nature and those who want to use the creek for recreation and sport.

The town’s growth is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for improvements to the treatment and disposal of sewage and to redesign of our antiquated sewerage to divert flows into new trunk sewers and stop flooding in parts of the town. That would enable the creek to become a recreational water space once again.

The construction of our new Visitor Information Centre in 12 Market Place has been frustrated by supply issues. We hope now that it will open in October and then we can move the second-hand bookshop from Gatefield Lane to the Fleur.

At the AGM we will discuss plans for the Fleur complex in Preston Street, which will remain our headquarters and registered address.

We have new members and volunteers joining, and there are several initiatives relating to our natural and cultural heritage, to bricks, gunpowder and our archives. We shall also be discussing progress on developing new heritage quarters around Town Quay and the engine sheds.

As some of you know, I have been actively campaigning for more responsible tourism for two decades. Covid has been a real catalyst for positive change, and people in destinations around the world aspire to build back better. I have never been busier with this campaigning work. Even Venice has finally taken control of the cruise liners to conserve the city.

The simplest definition of responsible tourism is using tourism to make great places to live in and to visit – in that order. At the AGM we want to discuss how the Faversham Society can best contribute to making Faversham a great place to live, cherishing the past, adorning the present, creating for the future. Please join us at the Alexander Centre or online. Details are on the left.


The Responsible Tourism Partnership

Faversham knitters have celebrated the arrival of the holidays. We particularly like the cautionary tale on the left: an overcooked sun-lover is being stretchered off

Join us for 2021 AGM

Please join us for our 2021 annual general meeting (AGM) of the Faversham Society will be held in the Alexander Centre, Preston Street, Faversham, at 7pm on Tuesday, 7 September.

You can attend the AGM at the Alexander Centre OR online. Register for the zoom link via the main Society we site HERE.

We have four vacancies on the board and four nominations.

Three current board members are standing for re-election: David Carey, Heather Wootton, and Chris Wright. Jan West is standing again after taking a “sabbatical”.

Harold Goodwin is standing as chair and David Melville is standing as vice-chair.

Proxy Forms are available on the main Society website HERE.

Harold Goodwin’s review will look forward to the many challenges facing our town and the Faversham Society. He will be outlining how we might respond to the challenges we face, how the use of the Fleur is evolving and how we can ensure that the Faversham Society continues to thrive connecting with young people. Please come along to share your views.

Government advice permitting, we intend to hold a blended meeting with participation possible both by physical and virtual attendance. Final details will be available in the newsletter and online along with the AGM papers and nominations on 23 August. Proxy forms will be available from 23 August and must be returned to the society no later than 7pm on 5 September (ie 48 hours before the meeting).

You can view the agenda HERE

History lecture online


Kent Archaeological Society and the Faversham Society invite you to an online lecture by Professor Robin Fleming, of Boston College, Massachusetts, at 7pm (BST) on 14 September on Do Things Made in Fifth-Century Britain Have Ethnicity?

Historians and archaeologists habitually apply the ethnic label “Anglo-Saxon” to fifth-century ceramics and metalwork. These objects, in turn, are employed to distinguish early medieval burials and settlements from Roman-period ones and to identify communities of Anglo-Saxon immigrants and their descendants.

Professor Fleming (pictured) will be arguing that a long, hard think about fifth-century pottery highlights the difficulties (tautological and otherwise) that arise when we ascribe ethnic identities to things in the first century after Rome’s withdrawal from Britain and then turn around and use those things to determine the ethnicities of their makers and users.

Robin Fleming is a professor of history at Boston College, Massachusetts, and has written on the political history of Viking, Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Norman England; English law before the Common Law; Domesday Book; and late-Roman and early medieval material culture.

She is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and has received grants and/or fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Harvard Society of Fellows; the Bunting Institute; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies at Harvard University; and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the London Society of Antiquaries.

She has recently published a book on the late-Roman material culture regime and its end in Britain, The Material Fall of Roman Britain 300–525. She is now writing six lectures on dogs in Roman Britain that she will present in Oxford in the winter of 2022 for the annual James Ford Lectures in British History. Please email chair@favershamsociety.org for a link to this talk.

New Membership Secretary


Just to let you know that I’ve now taken on the membership duties for the Faversham Society.

I hope to meet many of you at the AGM on 7 September, but if you have any queries or amendments to your membership details, please drop me an email, membership@favershamsociety.org, or leave a message for me at the VIC and I will do my best to sort it out for you.

Please note that we are now using only the above email address to contact you about your membership. So be sure to check that it’s not gone to your junk folder!

Vintage book sets on sale


We have had several vintage sets donated to the second-hand bookshop lately.

They would be expensive to post and difficult to store in the shop and I wonder if anybody local would like to buy them. They are:

  • A 1973 Encyclopaedia Britannica, in 24 volumes. Good condition. £25.
  • A 21-volume illustrated history of the First World War. Medium condition. £45.
  • Webster’s third dictionary, set of three, 1971. Good condition. We also have the same set, but in brown, from 1986. £10 for each set.
  • A vintage set in eight volumes of the book of knowledge. Illustrated and in good condition. £25

We can deliver. Please call me on 529166 or you can view the books in the shop.

Any old bricks?

In the yard behind the Fleur heritage centre we have the beginnings of a brick museum display. Bricks have been an important part of the history of our town. Simon Frost lives in Gatefield Lane and he has begun to edge the border behind the houses with old bricks.

We are looking for more to complete the border and then we shall add a key so that the range and variety of Faversham bricks can be appreciated. If you have bricks to donate to the Society’s brick display, please contact chair@favershamsociety.org

Church friends meet

Faversham’s parish church has been at the heart of our town for centuries. The Friends of St Mary of Charity group holds its AGM in the church at 8pm on 8 September.

The business part will be brief and will be followed by an open meeting to discuss a programme of activities, including churchyard maintenance, a performance of an anchorite play, the evolving virtual arboretum and a tree walk with David Carey (chairman of the Tree and Pond Wardens of Kent), possible ascents of the church tower, and guided tours by an architect and a knapped flint expert.

This plan for Faversham almshouses cannot be permitted


The Faversham Society is opposing plans to redevelop the almshouses in South Road.

Here is the plan before Swale Council (21/503447 and 21/503448, LBC): demolition of single-storey extensions and replacement with two-storey rear extensions to serve flats 6a/6b to 25a/25b. Conversion of 11 into 2 flats. Internal demolitions and alterations.

Here is the society’s objection. In 1840, Henry Wreight, a solicitor and former mayor of Faversham, left a bequest for the benefit of the town and which in due course enabled the building of the almshouses.

The architects were the relatively young Hooker and Wheeler of Brenchley, and although each of them subsequently enjoyed productive solo practices, the Faversham Almshouses were undoubtedly the “magnum opus” of their all-too-brief partnership and perhaps also of their individual careers. The residential accommodation they created was upgraded in 1982 without significant damage or impairment of the integrity of their original design of the almshouses and chapel.

Today, it comprises 69 units in the splendid 1863 building, which is the largest and arguably the finest scheme of its kind in Kent and reputedly the third-largest almshouse in the country. It continues to provide much-valued, affordable
housing for those who need it and gives
 the opportunity to continue living independent lives. The almshouses are Grade II listed.

The current proposal affects the entire, long rear elevation of the main block of the almshouses on either side of the central chapel. The present single-floor extensions, with their low-pitched roofs, are to be replaced with two-floored extensions, each some two metres longer and (in the case of the eight double extensions) two metres wider than the existing ones.

The eaves of the present extension roofs are about 4.3 metres below the eaves of the main rear roof slope, whereas the proposal is to lift the new extension eaves to the same level as that of the rear roof. The ridgelines of the existing extension roofs are approximately 1.5 metres below the main rear eaves: the new ridgelines would be some 3.9 metres above – a raising of almost 5.5 metres.

The pitch of the current extension roof slopes is roughly 40 degrees: the new extensions would have 60-degree roof pitches. On either side of the chapel, the two new extension roofs would all but reach the eaves of the chapel and obscure most of its stone-clad sidewalls.

These proposals involve a dramatic enlargement of the rear extensions and would radically alter the relationship of the hitherto subservient extensions with the main block of accommodation. They would also impose significant changes to the external modelling of the whole almshouse range and alter the architectural and historical character and scale of the entire rear elevation and the setting of the chapel.

The applicant’s heritage statement and design proposals appear to be based and justified on three misleading or incorrect ideas. These are:

That there are no important views of the west elevation or back of the almshouses.

That because the proposed works do not harm the more prominent and highly modelled front elevation and are screened by the north and south crosswings, they are not harmful to the listed building.

That the rear extensions that are to be demolished date only from the 1980s and are therefore of no consequence.

This proposal affects the entire main rear elevation of the almshouse block and includes the setting of the main chapel. This is visible from the green at Alexander Drive, from Monk’s Close, partly above eaves level from the tops of Dark Hill and Davington Hill and from Tanners Street as well as from immediate views within the site. The architects have failed to acknowledge that there are extensive and important views of the back of the almshouses, both when looking into the conservation area and from within it.

Simply wrong: Architecture is three-dimensional. It is not only the front of the almshouses that is important in terms of design and wide-scale views and setting. The building in its entirety makes an important contribution to the character and quality of this part of the conservation area. This is one of the most important and valued listed buildings within our community and a full, correctly based assessment of what the impact these proposals will have on the views into and within the conservation area is essential in this case. This has not been provided and on those grounds alone we believe the application should be rejected.

The proposed alterations are also based on the incorrect assessment that the existing, single-floor rear extensions date from the 1980s and are therefore of no importance or significance. This is simply wrong. The present rear extensions are in fact a combination of the original 1863 arrangement, as designed and built by Hooker and Wheeler, and changes in the 1980s when the extension interiors were altered but the original footprints, lines of walls and pitched roofs were retained.

Proof of this can quickly be established by reference to Hooker ad Wheeler’s original contract drawing, as illustrated in John Blackford’s booklet The Building of the New Almshouses in Faversham 1860-1863. The ground-floor plans on pages 14 and 54 and the detailed rear elevation on page 19 of the booklet clearly show that the present extensions follow the outlines, dimensions and roofscapes constructed under Hooker and Wheeler’s direction in 1862-63. Examination of the present brickwork and fabric of the roof structures indicate they are of mixed original and 20th-century construction.

All this gives the existing extensions a far greater historical and architectural significance than the architect’s historic building assessment and design ideas suggest.

Damage to modelling: The proposal will also cause irreversible, significant harm to the listed building’s fabric by:

Destroying 20 original first-floor, stone-framed windows to create internal doors into the new first-floor extensions.

2 Obscuring or covering much of the original external brickwork of the main back wall in order to create the new, two-floored, wider extensions.

Obscuring much of the view from the 20 original ground-floor rear windows by building wider extensions and narrowing the shared outlook to a series of 2.25-metre wide, ramped corridors in place of the original shared back yards.

By creating two-floored extensions with larger footprints and higher-pitched roofs running into the previously uninterrupted main rear roof, the society maintains these proposals will substantially and unacceptably damage Hooker and Wheeler’s much-lauded original massing and modelling of their building. The two plain, main roof slopes and rear views of the majestic chimneys will be broken up, and those elements will lose their long-established and intended dominance.

Lost for ever: The previously modest extensions will be replaced by ones that are over-assertive. The massing and importance of the chapel in breaking up the long run of the domestic accommodation will be less apparent. The whole character and scale of the rear elevation will be changed and Hooker and Wheeler’s overall modelling of the building will be lost for ever.

The Faversham Society believes this proposal will unacceptably alter the character of this part of the conservation area and cause irreversible and unacceptable harm to the design and integrity of this most important historic and listed building.

We also believe, given the points we have raised above, that the need to protect the authenticity and significance of this almshouse far outweighs any social gain that would be achieved by the present proposals. We, therefore, ask that planning permission and listed building consent be refused.

We are not unsympathetic to the desire to “improve” the accommodation for the residents. However, a better proposal, less injurious to heritage, needs to be made.

August 13, 2021

Faversham Society Newsletter

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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.

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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