Faversham is first mentioned in a royal charter of 811AD, where it is described as the King’s Town.
In the 1850s a Saxon Cemetery was discovered on the southern edge of the town. The burial goods found in the graves indicate an important regal settlement.
In Domesday Book (1086 AD) Faversham is listed as land owned by the King. It had the right to hold a market, which is held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Faversham is a member of the Federation of Cinque Ports, set up to provide ships and men to the Crown at times of war. Membership allowed valuable trading concessions.
The town possesses several original royal charters, including Magna Carta. These charters gave the town permission to govern itself, in the face of conflict with both the Abbey and the Warden of the Cinq Ports. This led to the development of trading which enabled the town to build its wealth during the Tudor period.
Merchants established themselves in the town, mainly along Abbey Street, where their premises extended from a smart frontage on the street to warehousing at the Creekside.
Faversham Town Council still meets in the Guildhall. The current building is a Georgian replacement supported by the original Elizabethan wooden columns.
Brewing in the town originated from the monks’ brewery at Faversham Abbey, established in 1147. The industry developed after the dissolution of the Abbey in 1538,
The manufacture of explosives was another industry which endured for centuries. The first gunpowder factories originated in the 16th century. The industry finally left the area in the 1930s, for reasons of safety.culminating in the modern Shepherd Neame brewery, serving international markets. Hops were grown locally, and hop-pickers arrived every September from London to work on the ripened crop.
Increasing demand for housing in London from 1830 led to the establishment of brickfields along the north Kent coast, a major source of employment until cheaper bricks became available from Bedfordshire, around 1900.
Faversham is now a commuter town, offering reasonably priced housing in a semi-rural environment. The future of the town depends on it achieving a balance between preserving its rich heritage and providing an infrastructure which meets modern expectations.
Clive Foreman, 26th April 2016