Back for a second week with more things that I am learning about Faversham – with so much history and plenty of things to do I seem to be forever adding to my knowledge collection!
Fact 6: Faversham’s Brewing History
Walking around Faversham you may have noticed the name Shepherd Neame all around town on most of the pubs. Founded in 1698 as a brewery, Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewer with records of brewing since 1573.
In 1970, an Anglo-Saxon boat built circa 900AD named the Graveney boat showed the earliest evidence of hops in the UK but it is in the Abbey where the first evidence of brewing was found. The Abbey was founded in 1147 by Kind Stephen, inside there remains evidence that Ale was made there for the Monks. The Kentish water from the Artesian wells was naturally chalk-filtered and made an excellent ingredient for brewing. Ale grew in popularity as some of the Ale wives (the women who brewed) would sell it in their Inns and from their homes. In 1698, Richard Marsh bought the brewery from the executors of Thomas Hilton. Hilton had been given the brewery in 1653 by the Castlock family who had owned it since 1525.
The brewery was passed down through families until it became what it is today, Shepherd Neame. They remained open during the wars and to this day are still a family-run business producing well-known brands such as Spitfire, Bear Island and Bishop’s finger. Their brews earnt six prizes at the annual British Bottlers’ Institute (BBI) Awards.
They export to over 35 countries including India, Sweden, Italy, Brazil and Canada. They are also partnered with Boon Rawd Brewery Company Limited, producers of Singha beer, which is both Thailand’s original beer and premium lager as their sole UK distributor.
For a fun day out and to learn more about their history, you can book a tour for £18 which includes tasting on their website: https://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/visitor-centre/brewery-tours#BOOK
You can also grab a pint of their beers in most of the pubs around Faversham. So far the most recommended have been The Sun Inn which dates back to the 14th Century and is located in the centre, The Corner Tap has a large variety of Gin and beer, Vino has an excellent wine selection and the Limes also have monthly comedy nights.
In the next season I will post in more detail about local food & drink places.
Fact 7: Unusual place names in Faversham and their origins
Smack Alley – We know the during the Victorian times they used to smack their children but there is no link to this with the Alley name, in fact the Alley was named after Smacks, which were traditional fishing boats that used to be used on Faversham Creek. Did you know that it was in 1720 when the first use of the name Oyster Smack appeared? They were also known as Yawls.
Ticklebelly Alley – Used to be known as George Alley by locals. They are many speculations about where the name Ticklebelly Alley came from. Some theories say that there may have been knife robbery where criminals would put a knife to your belly others say that perhaps George was just really ticklish. It may be because squeezing down the tight Alley tickles your belly – it certainly tickles mine with all the Christmas food I have been eating! There is a saucy suggestion that it was a Lovers lane where courting couples would meet so perhaps that is how the name came to be. Upon further research it seems that the origin may have been from Arthur Percival, during the 2000s when the roads were all being named. There is still little evidence that suggests the real origin. Where do you think the name came from?
Featherbed lane – Traditionally featherbeds were only for the rich in the 14th Century and were typically used on top of mattresses to make them softer. There are many farms, including the Halfway Egg Farm, in the area near Featherbed Lane so perhaps this is where the featherbeds were produced.
Castle cootes – A coot is a bird, the name comes from the middle English word “Coote” which was a nickname for a bald or stupid man. The bird was regarded as bald because of the large white patch, an extension of the bill, on its head but how the reputation for stupidity came about it unknown! As it is a bird sanctuary it is fitting that it be named after one of it’s residents. Castle perhaps named after the Castle in Whitstable.
The protected bird sanctuary is a sensitive area for nesting and roosting birds including thousands of wildfowl and waders in winter, as well as very special plants in summer. In summer you can expect grasshoppers, beetles, skylark, reed warbler, breeding redshank, bearded reedling and marsh harrier. The beach also has beautiful yellow horned-poppy. Saltmarsh plants create beautiful vibrant colours, the golden samphire, sea-lavender and sea-purslane are spectacular. In Winter, swale estuary teems with life, Shellfish, worms and specialised plants attract birds including Wigeon, Brent geese (usually up to 2,000), short-eared owl, hen harrier and the Merlin.
Jubbulpore Villa – 33 Newton Road. The building was named after Jabalpur (previously Jubbulpore) in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It was an important City during the mid-victorian Raj, there were many violent confrontations between the British and opposers of their rule. The house was built shortly after Jabalpur was established as division. Lieutenant General Philip Neame was a senior British Army officer and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy, and the winner of an Olympic Gold medal; (the only person to achieve both distinctions.) He was born in Faversham on 12 December 1888 and was part of the 4th Infantry Division (India) so perhaps this is where the link came from?
Judd’s Folly Hill – Named after Syndale mansion built by Daniel Judd in 1653, an entrepreneur who was particularly successful in gunpowder making. A folly is a construct that is used for decoration but appears to be for another purpose. Folly House. It is in the grounds of a five-acre (2 hectares) wood, which in 1201 was owned by the Bishop of Rochester, Gilbert Glanvill. Henry Sandford (a later Bishop) passed the wood to a local resident and his heirs. It now has become Judd’s Folly Hotel, and Syndale Park Fitness Club
Other unusual names in the area include: Pug pitts, Frogs island, Crab Island, Slutshole, The puggies, Squeeze Gut Alley and Gallows Hole Field. Where do you think their names came from?
Fact 8: The history of our home, The Alexander Centre
The Alexander Centre, previously called Gatefield House, was built in 1869 for Henry Barnes (1805 – 1860), a local entrepreneur who had made a fortune out of local brickfields. In 1890 became home of Dr Sidney Alexander, a pioneer of varicose vein treatment in his London practise, he also used The Alexander Centre as a GP practise. His wife, Lady Alexander would also organise excellent events for members of the community and one of the rooms was her music room, you can still see musical decorations on the walls.
The side of the house was a Billiards room where Sir Alexander would play with prominent men. The attic would have been the servants quarters. The garden previously had a tennis court and garden but has now been made into a large hall for community events.
Sir Sidney Alexander, became mayor in 1910-20 during World War One and was knighted for his services. He died in 1929 and the Alexander Centre has since been used as the offices for the council and the home of Saxon Shore Estate Agents. It is a hub for the community where people come for market stalls, concerts and community events.
Fact 9: Faversham Fishing
Faversham grew to importance in 16th- 18th centuries supplying much of London’s food market. Oyster fishery, along with gunpowder and brewing, was one of the most important trades. It has been said that the earliest records of Oyster fishing started in the 11th Century. Due to the development of the port and poor road conditions, Faversham was able to export many items to London and other areas.
Guildhall was built in 1560 as a market hall where fish would be sold, it is still a market place today. Around 1605, three original Oyster maps were made showing the boundaries for Oyster fishing. Only one is known to still exist in the Town Hall.
During post-medieval times fish was a large part of the diet, freshwater fish caught in local rivers, brooks, ditches and ponds would be usually salted or dried. Ships known as “Borleys” or Bawleys were used specifically for Oysters.
The Company of Dredgers controlled the Oyster fishery of Faversham, they employed hundred of families. Even during Winter Oysters were dredged to make stews. In the 16th century, Oysters could be kept alive for up to 12 days and there was such an abundance that in 1783 they were known the be the cheapest fish around.
In the 18th Century, large amounts of Oysters were exported to the Dutch brining in around £7000 which back then was a large amount of money.
You can also join Fishing clubs such as Faversham Angling Club if you like fishing as a hobby. There are excellent fishing lakes in the area which include:
Bysing wood fishing lakes located in Teynham is 6 acres and you can catch mixed fishery with Tench, Bream, Roach, Rudd and Pike available, you can book it through Faversham Angling club.
Mill Pool was dug in the 1960s, the 7 acre fishing area has Carp, Bream, Tench and Roach. The famous record-breaking, Two Tone Carp fish originally came from Mill Pool before being moved to Ashford. It survived until it was around 45 years old. You can find out more about Two Tone here: https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/rest-fin-peace—two-tone-the-le-a82513/
This venue is available on a single ticket, with the Wood Pool, at just £125 per season.
You can also get fishing gear in the local markets on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays every week near Guildhall as well a local fish.
Fact 10: The Crown Spire
The earliest form of a Crown steeple or Spire was recorded in 1448 in Newcastle Cathedral. It was part of medieval church architecture and then later reappeared as part of the Gothic revival in the 19th Century. They were a symbol of power and strength as well as symbolically being closer to God by reaching to heaven. The wealth and power of the area would be judged by the size.
The grand central tower was built in the early 14th century but demolished in 1755 for being unsafe. In 1780 the bell tower was also damaged by explosion on the homework gunpowder factory. The crown Spire here in Faversham was built from stone in 11th August 1797 to replace two earlier towers. It was designed by Charles Beazley who was inspired by Wren’s St Dustan’s-in-the-East, in the city of london. Charles also designed the mansion in Ospringe, London road. The design was to ensure that the tower would be more resistant to gunpowder blasts.
There were many works and improvements to Faversham parish church of St. Mary of charity over the years, it has plenty of character with original medieval paintings inside. It is part of the remains of Faversham Abbey which was established by King Stephen in 1147 and is the second largest church in Kent.