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Faversham (England)
Location in England

Faversham Market under the
wooden pillar town hall
Basic data
status Market Town and Civil Parish
surface 11.16 km²
population 19,316 (as of 2011)
Ceremony county Kent
District Borough of Swale
Constituency Faversham and Mid Kent
Website: www.favershamtowncouncil.gov.uk

Faversham [ ˈfævərʃəm ] is a town in the county of Kent in the Borough of Swale with about 19,300 inhabitants (as of 2011). It is located about 70 km from London , between Sittingbourne and Canterbury . The road from London to Dover ( A2 ) leads past the market town, which used to be an important port.

History and sights

Faversham Coat of Arms

Even before the Roman conquest of Britain there are reports of settlements at the present-day location. The next historical mention is made of the settlement as a royal estate in 811 and is still mentioned in a document signed by King Kenulf of Mercia . In the Domesday Book the place is referred to as "Favreshant". In 1148 King Stephen of England founded Faversham Abbey , where he was later buried with his wife Mathilde of Boulogne and son Eustach IV of Boulogne . Around 1260 the scholastic philosopher Simon of Faversham was born in the village .

King Henry VIII transferred the abbey to Sir Thomas Culpeper in 1536 during the dissolution of the English monasteries . Immediately after its dissolution, the abbey was destroyed and a large part of the masonry was moved to Calais to strengthen the fortifications of the city. In 1539 the lands of the former abbey passed to Sir Thomas Cheney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports , and Quenn Elizabeth's Grammar School was established there. Although Henry VIII had dissolved the abbey, the St. Mary of Charity Church remained. It has an unusual, crown-shaped church tower from the 19th century, which can be seen from afar. The interior was remodeled and restored in 1874 by Sir George Gilbert Scott . Scott was best known for the architecture of St. Pancras Station in London, the State Department and many schools and cathedrals. (His son is the designer of the well-known classic red telephone booths from the 1930s. One of the first telephone booths is still in the Fleur de Lis Heritage Center in Faversham.) The church is home to the remarkable tomb of King Stephen. This makes the church one of the few outside Londos that contains a royal tomb. The misericords in the choir stalls, a rare medieval painted column and a recently restored altar dedicated to Saints Crispinus and Crispinianus are also unique in the country .

The parish is known as a market and port town and as the center of the county's brewing industry. It is also home to Britain's oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame. There used to be breweries under the "Fremlin" and "Whitbread" brands. There are still a remarkable number of medieval buildings in the city center. Many of these buildings were slated to be demolished in the 1960s, but resistance arose from the population who recognized the value of these historic buildings and wanted to preserve them. The historic city center in particular attracts many visitors who can experience city history in many places. The Fleur-de-Lis Center is also there and houses a museum and tourist information office. There is a weekly market at the Guildhall several days a week.

There is a cinema in the city that dates back to the early days of film and is still in operation today and almost unchanged. There is also a theater in the city. The Arden Theater is named after an Elizabethan play, the Arden of Faversham , which takes place on Abbey Street.

In the area of ​​the river Thames barges are repaired, built and sealed in the small shipyards. Various artists have settled there and open their studios, especially during the Canterbury Festival in autumn.

During the First World War the breweries got into a crisis. On the one hand, sales stagnated and, on the other hand, the workers left the brewery to work in the better-paid explosives industry.

From mid-1939 to March 1940 , Hanna Bergas headed a branch of the Bunce Court School in the former children's hospital "Kennaways" .

The explosives industry


Faversham is known as the cradle of the UK's explosives industry. The first black powder factory was opened in the 16th century. There is evidence that even the monks at Faversham Abbey operated this factory. Thanks to its land and financial resources, the monastery was able to invest in future-oriented technologies.

The city was ideally located for such an industry. It was on a river that could be dammed up when water was needed for the factories. The surrounding area of ​​the city was flat, making it ideal for planting alders and willows, which were used to make charcoal, one of the three most important constituents of black powder. Another important ingredient, sulfur, could be imported via the river and the finished black powder could be transported to the powder magazines on the Thames. The proximity to the European mainland was also advantageous, so that the transport of supplies was easy in times of war. The first factories were small and were located near the city on the river. By the early 18th century, the small factories had merged into a single large one, later known as Home Works. In 1759 the factory was nationalized and in this context all machines were modernized. The Chart Gunpowder Mill, which is no longer in operation today and was converted into a museum in 1966, also dates from this period.

Another factory was founded by immigrant Huguenots in the late 17th century, the Oare Works. This factory became the main supplier to the British East India Company .

The third and final explosives factory was the Marsh Works, founded by the British government in 1787 northwest of the city on Oare Creek because the Home Works could not produce enough. In 1934 all three factories closed because war threatened Germany and the Faversham site would have been too vulnerable to air raids and invasions. Production was then relocated to Ardeer in Scotland .

Gun cotton

After Dr. Christian Friedrich Schönbein discovered gun cotton in 1846 , it was manufactured by the Marsh Works under license from 1847. Since they were still inexperienced in dealing with it, there was an explosion in the same year, in which 18 people died. The factory was then closed again. Production was suspended until 1873 when the Cotton Powder Company built another factory in Uplees, 4 km northwest of the city. The factory grew rapidly and shortly before the beginning of the First World War it covered an area of ​​2 km² with its own power station, hydraulic systems, internal telephone system and rail system. The area was about the size of the City of London .

At the beginning of the First World War , the factories were placed under the administration of the Admiralty and armed guards guarded the area. Production continued to increase and the number of workers increased. The necessary workers could no longer be recruited only in Faversham, but came from all over the county. To transport these workers, the Admiralty built a narrow-gauge railway between Davington and Uplees.

On Sunday, April 2, 1916, there was a momentous explosion when a warehouse with TNT exploded. There were subsequent explosions and a total of 115 people died, seven dead could never be found. After the First World War, the factory closed and the narrow-gauge railway was dismantled. The locomotives were sold to South America, where one is still in service today.

In 1924, the Abbey Works were built on the site of the former abbey by the Mining Explosives Company. Here, too, there was an explosion in 1939, whereupon the operators switched the production of explosives to carbon dioxide cartridges. This factory, which operates under the name Long Airdox, still exists today. Various natural resources are still being mined on the remaining fallow factories. The factory buildings were demolished except for Chart Mill. The area of ​​the Oare Works was developed as a landscape park.

Hottest temperature

From August 2003, Faversham held the record of 38.5 degrees Celsius, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Great Britain, for several years. During a Europe-wide hot spell , this value was exceeded on July 25, 2019 in the Botanical Garden of the University of Cambridge with 38.7 degrees.

Government and Administration

Faversham is in the electoral district of Faversham and Mid Kent. Since 2015 this constituency has been represented by Conservative MP Helen Whately.

For the election to the Borough Council of the Borough of Swale , Faversham is divided into four constituencies (Abbey, Priory, St Ann's and Watling). The four constituencies send seven members to the council. Since the 2019 elections, five council seats have been held by members of the Liberal Democrats and two by Labor members.


In the city, an above-average number of residents are employed in agriculture and construction, while comparatively few are employed in finance, administration and the catering trade.

The unemployment rate is 2.7%, compared to the national average of 3.4%.


Trains run from Faversham to London Victoria Station . In the opposite direction, lines run via Canterbury Eastern to Dover Priory and to Ramsgate and Margate .

Since 2009 connects Southeastern under the label Southeastern High Speed to Faversham train station via Chatham Main Line , North Kent Line and High Speed One / Channel Tunnel Rail Link , with Ebbsfleet International , London-Stratford and St Pancras International .



  • The Great Explosion at Faversham by Arthur Percival: also reprinted in Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. C. (1985).
  • The Faversham Gunpowder Industry and its Development , by Arthur Percival (Faversham Papers No 4)
  • Oare Gunpowder Works , by Wayne Cocroft (Faversham Papers No 39)
  • Gunpowder Manufacture at Faversham: Oare and Marsh Factories , by Edward Patterson (Faversham Papers No 42)
  • Faversham Gunpowder Personnel Register 1573-1840 , by Raymond Godfrey & Arthur Percival (Faversham Papers No 84)
  • Faversham Explosives Personnel Register 1841-1934 , by John Breeze (2008)
  • Paul Wilkinson: The Historical Development of the Port of Faversham 1580-1780 . A comprehensive historical and archaeological investigation into the maritime organization of the port (2006) ISBN 1-84171-946-3

Web links

Commons : Faversham  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Five Ammonium Nitrate Disasters: The Most Devastating Explosions , accessed August 6, 2020
  2. New official highest temperature in UK confirmed. Met Office , July 29, 2019, accessed July 30, 2019. (English)
  3. ^ Faversham & Mid Kent election results . In: BBC News , May 8, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2019. 
  4. Borough Election 2019 - Thursday, 2nd May, 2019: Election summary for Wards on swale.gov.uk , accessed on August 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Southeastern Railway network. Retrieved August 22, 2020 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 19 ′  N , 0 ° 53 ′  E