Faversham, sitting on the creek of the River Oare between Canterbury and Sittingbourne is a pretty market-town steeped in Kentish history with much to discover today. Independent shops, farmers markets, annual festivals celebrating its hop history and a carnival.
‘Remember, Remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot…’ we all shout in our annual shindig over Guy Fawkes’ failed antics as we watch another firecracker spit and cackle against the nights’ sky. We love it – but do we ever think about the actual explosives supposedly stashed under the Houses of Parliament in 1605? Gunpowder to us now seems as antiquated as cannon balls and priests’ holes.
It was important stuff which helped win heroic battles at Waterloo and Trafalgar and with then the largest concentration of gunpowder factories in the world, Faversham was the centre of production.
The town was perfectly placed to develop a gunpowder industry of its own and more importantly, to have the means to export its impressive product all over the world. Faversham’s importance quite literally, exploded.
Sitting on the banks of the River Oare explains why Faversham was then so successful in its industrial endeavours and remains so now, in drawing a new crowd of creative, curious types eager to sample some of Faversham’s charm. These days it is perhaps known more for its beer making following the founding of the famous Shepherd Neame brewery there in 1698, making it Britain’s oldest brewer.
Back then and throughout the next three hundred years it thrived alongside the Kentish hop industry and Shepherd Neame still owns many of the most important pubs that dot the county of Kent and beyond. Shepherd Neame is synomenous with British brewing and Faversham is rightly proud of the business being based there.
Just on the quayside is a site, once used by HM Customs to gather their taxes from the river traffic as their wares travelled up and down the Thames. Customs House gives its former role away in its name, but nowadays is a very special holiday let with Bloom Stays, offering fantastic views of this vibrant stretch of river. The house, dating from 1850, retains this sense of history in its huge windows and high ceilings. It’s formal in style, but cosy in attitude and sleeps 20.
From Customs House the keen bird spotter needs to keep an eye out over the Oare Marshes that surround Faversham. A haven for birds and other wildlife, it is a designated special site of Scientific Interest as well as nature reserve. The marshes are of international importance and house over-wintering birds seen only here. What a treat for bird lovers and just fifty miles from central London.
Our favourite places to eat and drink in Faversham include the Gallery kitchen café at the Creek Design studios, Read’s Restaurant with rooms and not forgetting Macknade’s Fine Foods if you wanted to pick up something special to cook at home. Macknade’s delicatessen has been in the same family for 170 years; generations of food knowledge and expertise passed down the years.
Slightly further away, just five miles east of Faversham is the village of Doddington and another large Bloom Stays’ property perfect for making some holiday memories. Sleeping groups of families and friends of up to 44, Great Higham Barn, Oast and cottages offer a range of flexible accommodation alongside fantastic leisure facilities including a pool, tennis courts and a barbeque area. A great place for a base on the north Kent coast within easy reach of Faversham, Canterbury and London.
So make sure fabulous Faversham is on your list of places to visit in Kent; beer, birdwatching and some Guy Fawkes bravado… it’s all here.