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.
Episode 4: Faversham’s haunting history
Faversham was an established settlement before the Roman conquest and with so much history including the great Kent explosion, it’s no wonder it’s known to be the most haunted town in the U.K.
Many people have reported similar ghost sightings such as the White Lady who lives at the home of the Faversham Society and local museum in the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre. She has been seen at the top of the stairs and museum staff have heard the telephone exchange ringing despite it not being connected to any lines.
Bramley Avenue is still haunted by the ghost of a teenage boy who can be seen staring out of what used to be his bedroom window.
The sea captain who died at the Shipwrights’ Arms at Hollowshore has also been seen dragging ashore a huge piece of iron. The Inn was a popular place for smugglers and pirates. People have heard him knocking on the door and smelt tobacco and rum in the air. Some have even seen him standing in the doorway.
Apparently he died in the 19th century after running into difficulty along the Swale in the cold of winter. He made it to the Inn but the door was locked and he was found dead on the doorstep the next morning.
In Bysingwood, Diana, the headless women has been seen with her head tucked under her arm. She used to walk with her Fiancé through the woods to get home but they were brutally attacked and she was decapitated. Her love was found later hanged near the site of attack.
It is said that she searches the woods for her love. The walk through the woods is named Diana’s walk after her.
At Saxon Shore, we recently had a visit from Tracy May, a clairvoyant, from spiritual Tree. She told us of the accountant that used to work here at the Alexander centre and Dorothy who likes to play pranks on Kim. Upstairs in the attack she saw the injured victims of the war.
There are many ghost stories around Faversham. Have you ever had a ghostly experience?
Episode 5: Faversham reformation
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Catholic priests were executed after the establishment of protestantism during the reforming. Priest holes were hiding places for priests that were built into many Catholic houses to protect them.
Many of the priest holes can still be found today in houses in Faversham. We know there are existing ones in Arden’s house, Queen court farm and the old Vicarage in Ospringe. Allegedly there are also priest holes in Jacob’s house and the Court Street Brewery as well as various other locations around Faversham. Have you found any?
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.