10 reasons to visit Faversham
PUBLISHED: 13:31 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:09 12 September 2016
The ancient market town of Faversham has it all, from a pretty creekside setting to an annual celebration of its strong links with the historic brewing industry. Words by: Caroline Read. Pictures by: Manu Palomeque
1. Down by the creek
Faversham’s famous creek may be pretty but it’s also a vital part of the town’s history. It would never have become one of Kent’s most important market towns if it hadn’t been for its link to the sea and to the Thames. An established settlement even before the Roman conquest, it went on to become an important port and provided London with supplies including wheat and locally made bricks for construction. The busy creek would once have been filled with sailing barges, loaded with cargo, and even today the maritime history of the area is proudly preserved.
2. Historic brewery
Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery, founded in 1698. Faversham has always been the company’s home and the brewery has a popular visitor centre in Court Street. There you can tour the brewery and taste some of the ales and lagers they produce. But for a real experience of the local beer, try a pint or two in The Three Tuns in Tanner Street. It was the brewery’s first public house and the link between the two goes back to the early 1700s. Some of their best-loved brands include Spitfire, Bishops Finger, Whitstable Bay, Samuel Adams and Asahi.
3. Local produce
The phrase ‘Garden of England’ sums up Faversham and its surrounding countryside perfectly. Famed for its fresh local produce and also for the many small businesses who make and sell artisan food and drink in the area, it really is a foodie’s delight. The market in the heart of Faversham, which runs every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, is at least 900 years old, making it the oldest in Kent. Also try Macknade Fine Foods – an enormous food hall just outside the town centre – and MB Farms Food Hall in West Street.
If you want to be introduced to even more local food and drink producers, with local artists and craftspeople thrown in for good measure, visit the town on the first Saturday of the month for the Best of Faversham market.
4. Hop on top
There’s no escaping beer here. The town is rightly proud of its brewing history and every year it celebrates that link with the ever-popular Faversham Hop Festival. Taking place this year on 3-4 September, it’s a huge, family-friendly event that sees live music, street parades and all kinds of entertainment across the town. This year the festival’s fun fair will be bigger and better than ever and the Hopper’s Market area will feature a number of stalls and some great food offerings. And of course you must sample a local pint or two.
5. Eat and drink
Some great places to eat include Read’s (01795 535344), Red Sails at the Faversham Creek Hotel (01795 533535, see review in October Kent Life), The Yard café (01795 538265), Posillipo Italian (01795 590580) and Havishams Coffee House (01795 591571). When it comes to pubs, they’re not exactly in short supply either. Try The Sun Inn, The Bear Inn, The Vaults Cask & Kitchen or The Elephant.
In nearby villages you can find the highly-rated Three Mariners in Oare, The Dairy at Boughton-under-Blean and The Plough Inn in Stalisfield.
6. Historic buildings
There are some Faversham residents who will tell you the town has more listed buildings than anywhere else in England, and with around 500, they may well be right. The architecture of the town is mainly Tudor and Georgian with a very large conservation area. Streets like Abbey Street, Court Street, Tanners Street and West Street look very much as they did 400 years ago. Buildings to look out for include the splendid part-Elizabethan, part-Regency Guildhall and the medieval barns at Abbey Farm. Outside the main town, visit the Georgian mansion Belmont and the historic Chart Gunpowder Mills.
7. Cat in a hat
Each March something rather unusual happens in Faversham. Begun in 2014, Faversham Hat Festival is a celebration of hats through the arts, encouraging community involvement and helping to promote the town to tourists. With a hat parade and a competition to find the best hats on display, it’s a real community event. The Hat Shop in West Street can take much of the credit for this fun-packed event and the surrounding independent shops have given it the backing it deserves. Search for Faversham Hat Festival on Facebook to keep up to date with plans for next year.
8. Make a splash
Faversham is incredibly lucky when it comes to its leisure facilities. Faversham Pools boasts not only the usual heated indoor pools but also three seasonal outdoor pools. Between May and September a large pool with outdoor diving boards, a paddling pool for little ones and a wild water rapids pool attract families keen to have some fun in the sun. Opened in 1964 as a single outdoor pool, the complex was added to in the 1990s and is now one of Kent’s most popular swimming pools.
Visit www.favershampools.com for details.
9. Fruitful trees
Brogdale is home to the National Fruit Tree Collection, which is one of the largest in the world. With more than 4,000 different varieties of apple, pear, cherry, plum, quince and nut trees, all set in rolling Kentish orchards, it celebrates the history and heritage of this fruit-producing region. The site offers guided tours, plus seasonal tastings and annual events including the Japanese cherry blossom festival in the spring, an artisan cider festival in late August (27 and 28) and an apple festival in October (15 and 16).
10. On the quay
Still a working maritime site with a dry dock, historic Standard Quay sits alongside the creek at the far end of Abbey Street and is within easy walking distance of the town centre. Now also a pretty venue for shopping, eating and creekside walking, it is home to several classic vessels including Thames sailing barges, traditional fishing boats and tugs. Within Standard Quay’s barn-like buildings are shops including Aladdin’s Loft vintage emporium, Ashley’s Bridal Boutique and Creekside Vinyl, along with the Pomegranate Tree garden centre and coffee shop, and Bin Ella wine bar.