Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Faversham
Faversham comes from the Old English ' fæfer' meaning a 'smith' together with ‘hām’ as
a 'village, homestead'; therefore, a 'homestead/village of the smith'. The Domesday
Book records Faversham as Favreshant, and as Fefresham in 811AD.
An established settlement existed at Faversham before the Roman conquest. A royal Demesne records Faversham in 811AD. Faversham, has regularly, throughout its history, obtained curious royal privileges and charters.
In 1148, King Stephen established Faversham Abbey. The king and his consort Matilda aimed to establish a royal mausoleum for the House of Blois. They hoped that the dynasty would rule over England for generations to come. In fact, it began and ended, with them. King Stephen died in 1154; having lost his wife in 1152 and son Eustace in 1153. Faversham rose to prominence during Stephen's reign, becoming the capital of England for a short period.
Henry VIII granted Faversham Abbey to Sir Thomas Culpeper. However, Henry demolished the abbey directly after the dissolution and transported much of its masonry to Calais as reinforcement for the town's defences against the French. In 1539, the ground upon which the abbey had stood, along with nearby land passed to Sir Thomas Cheney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, with Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School built on the abbey site.
Faversham parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary of Charity, and built in the area of Faversham Abbey in 1147, by King Stephen. Although King Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey, the church remained. In 1300, a riot took place in the church resulting in Abbott Winchelsey banning services. Johanna Hille cast and hung five bells in 1441, which Robert Catlin recast into a ring of eight in 1748. Following the demolition of the Norman nave and central tower in 1794, George Dance built a tower with spire similar to Sir Christopher Wren’s at St Dunstan’s, East London. The architect George Gilbert Smith encased the west end spire and reworked the nave and transepts in 1875.
Faversham railway station opened on the East Kent Railway’s – later to become the
London Chatham and Dover Railway – Faversham to Chatham section of the London Victoria
to Dover mainline, on 25 January 1858…. more
Faversham became the centre of England’s explosive industry in the 16th century, when it first produced gunpowder. Faversham found itself to be ideally placed, with a stream to power the watermills, low lying areas in which to culture alder and grow willow for the charcoal, and a creek for importing sulphur and exporting the gunpowder.