By Katie Begg, Faversham Society Trustee
Anyone who has spent even five minutes chatting with Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Faversham Society, around town, will know that it is his greatest source of pride that this small but prolific heritage charity is staffed and managed entirely by a small army of dedicated volunteers.
2022 marks 60 years since the Society’s creation. It is one of the UK’s oldest civic organisations, which exists to celebrate and protect the town’s rich heritage and vibrant community. In the first of a number of planned events to mark the anniversary, the Society’s president hosted a private event at his home at Doddington Place to thank the Society’s volunteers for their commitment and hard work. Those attending enjoyed free range of the beautiful gardens at Doddington, followed by afternoon tea in the glorious spring sunshine.
Since it was founded those sixty years, the growth and change in the town has required evolution of the Society into a complex organisation, which undertakes a diverse range of activities. Volunteers not only run the Fleur De Lis Museum and Heritage Centre on Preston Street, Visitor Information Centre at 12 Market Place, and the much-loved Fleur Bookshop, but also engage in all aspects of preserving the town’s heritage and culture. Society volunteers are actively engaged in work regarding the Swale Local Plan, the Neighbourhood Plan, and efforts to preserve prized heritage assets such as TS Hazard and the Town Quay and the Engine Sheds, as well as efforts to conserve the natural heritage of the town and its environs.
All of these activities are undertaken with the objective of delivering on the Society’s mission: To cherish the past, adorn the present, and create the future of the town.
There will be more opportunities to celebrate Faversham’s remarkable heritage with the Society over the remaining months of the year, including exhibitions, talks and events. On 24th and 25th October, and celebratory, free-of-charge exhibition will be hosted at the Alexander Centre, where Society members, residents of the town, and visitors alike will be welcome to drop in and learn more about the Society’s long history and current work. An evening reception for members of the Society will be held on 24th October. Please look out for further information about these events and other events in the coming months.
You may have noticed people wandering the streets of Faversham on the last Sunday in June visiting some of the 30 gardens which took part in this year’s Open Gardens. The Open Gardens with the themed market event has not run during Covid. It has bounced back with increased demand for tickets to enter the gardens.
The garden party at Doddington Park to celebrate the Faversham Society's 60th anniversary
There are so many ways to support the work of the Faversham Society in protecting and preserving the heritage of our town. From supporting the Society with annual membership, to exploring the vast volunteering opportunities, there’s something that to suit everyone. Members of the Society received a highly informative monthly newsletter, free access to the museum, library and archives, and free or discounted access to events. Members are also invited to attend meetings organised by the Society on issues affecting our town.
If you are interested in joining the Society, please fill in a membership form and pop it into the Visitor Information Centre at 12 Market Place or join online.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Society, the time commitment need not be onerous and existing and new members who have time to volunteer, even for just a few hours each week, are always welcome in any of the following areas of the Society’s activity:
Working in the Visitor Information Centre or Museum
Working in the Fleur Charity Bookshop
Participating in the Faversham Society Archaeological Research Group - working on digs, including administrative work
Joining the Society’s Environment Committee to campaign on issues affecting our town
Being a Guide for the Town Heritage Walks
Writing contributions for the Newsletter
Assisting with social media and marketing
Assisting at the Chart Gunpowder Mills
Cataloguing and reviewing (i.e. curating) the museum collections and libraries
If you would like to learn more about volunteering, please pop into the VIC at 12 Market Place or contact email@example.com
ARTHUR PERCIVAL'S LEGACY
The Faversham Society was cofounded by Faversham resident Arthur Percival in 1962. He was the honorary editor of the Society's Faversham Papers from 1964 until his death in 2014. Arthur taught adult education classes on the history and architecture of the town for the Worker's Educational Association. He also played a fundamental role in campaigns to save the town's health services, preventing developers from ruining the town's architecture, and had a prolonged and passionate love for Faversham.
Arthur Percival, co-founder in 1962 of the Faversham Society. Saviour of much of Abbey
Street and many other landmark buildings and locations
THE FAVERSHAM PAPERS
Since 1962, the Faversham Society has built up an extensive catalogue of Faversham Papers that have been produced by Arthur Percival and many other enthusiastic and knowledgeable members. This work is part of the Faversham Society’s commitment to education and maintaining a passion for the history of this beautiful town.
The papers cover the history of Faversham and many surrounding villages. From Beowulf to Hop Picking and just about everything in-between. There should be something of interest for everyone!
Subjects covered include the royal abbey, historic churches and even local people’s memories of individual streets and the people who lived in them. Two popular areas detailed by multiple Faversham Papers are the local gunpowder industry and the sailing barges and coasters which used the Creek.
The Society also holds papers valuable to family historians, some of which contain information which may not be available elsewhere. As well as the 1841 and 1871 census returns, there are papers dedicated to the explosives personnel from 1573 onwards, ships and seamen of the 15th century and a biographical register from 1100 to 1650. Many papers also cover both the world wars and its impact on the town and its people. There prove valuable research sources for those looking for the details of their ancestors who lived locally.
All of these papers are available to view the Visitor Information Centre at 12 Market Place and a full list is available at www.favershamsociety.org/publications
THE ARTHUR PERCIVAL ARCHIVE
Upon his death, Arthur left a very significant archive of materials – comprising over 40,000 items - relating to the town’s history and heritage to the Society. The archive includes many photographs of the town over the years and a very large collection of Glass Plate Negatives showing images of the Faversham across the decades. In recent years, a small team of dedicated volunteers have been working to digitise Arthur’s collection to make it accessible to the curators at the Fleur De Lis museum, and eventually to the general public, so that anyone who is interested in learning more about the history and heritage of the town can readily access the archive.
Workers at the Seager Foundry in Faversham
In addition, Arthur also left a vast amount of correspondence, cuttings, research material and
articles of interest. He corresponded with people all around the world searching for their family roots in the Faversham area. The Society has also found unique material sent to
him by Faversham residents of the past. An example is the ‘Memories of inter-wars Seager Foundries’ by E. A. Harrison. This is a handwritten account of working at the Seager Foundry on the Brents. It includes descriptions of the working conditions and processes employed at that time, together with hand drawn diagrams and photographs. Another example is a photograph from W. Evernden - a photographer who had a shop in the 1930s in West Street. Entitled ‘The Modern Camper’, it shows camping at Dymchurch understood to be during the late 1920s to early 1930s with ‘a light car and Wireless.’ It is annotated ‘A small 2 or 3 valve set is easily carried on a light car and good results can be got with a 50-foot aerial only 8 to 10 feet high, so although being ‘far from the madding crowd’ one can keep in touch with all that is going on.’
Image from the W.Evernden archive entitled 'The Modern Camper'
One of the attractions of working on the Archive is that we never know what we will find next. It gives a fascinating insight into the history of Faversham, it’s inhabitants and Arthur himself.
While some of this material has been sorted, to learn more about this work, you can visit www.arthurpercivalarchive.co.uk
THE IMPORTANCE OF BOUNDARIES
These important but much-neglected markers give fascinating insight into the town’s expansion over nearly two centuries. Arthur Percival, founder of the Faversham Society, had this to say about the stones:
“In 1846 when the bounds of the parish of Faversham were painstakingly “beaten” by the vicar, churchwardens and overseers of the poor, they were marked mainly by boundary stones – in a few cases only by wooden markers.
“In the detached portion of the parish in the Uplees area there were 17 stones and in another detached portion near Selgrove there were 12. Such were the intricacies of the boundaries of the main parish that it mustered a total of no fewer than 64 stones.
“It was then long and narrow, extending west to east from near Judd Folly Hill in the west to near the railway bridge in Graveney, but “pinched” in the middle by the two halves of Preston.”
The Chart Mill boundary stone
Faversham had two distinct boundaries, one being the Parish and the other the Town and Liberty. The Town and Liberty is smaller and mostly within the parish boundary. The Parish stones are marked on different sides with an F for Faversham, P for Preston, D for Davington, O for Ospringe etc, whereas the Town and Liberty of Faversham stones were marked T&L. Other stones can also be seen for property boundaries – including W.H. for William Hall gunpowder works. The known Boundary stone positions of Faversham Parish and can be seen on this map of the 1865/1877 Boundaries overlaid on the Ordnance
Survey District Map.
The Boundary Stone map showing the original Boundary Stone positions. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2022, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0:
POSING THE QUESTION
The question that the Faversham Society is now asking is: how many of this total of 93 stones still survive in situ? Perhaps you might be able to help? Ones at present known to survive are those outside Mall House - buried by successive layers of asphalt, in the private car park off Solomons Lane, between Newton Road and St Mary’s Road, by Chart Mills, and on the Rec near the footbridge by the pavilion. There is still a stone on the seawall opposite the Oyster Bay Warehouse, marking the old boundary between North Preston and Faversham that followed the centreline of the creek before it was straightened. We need to ensure that it does not slip into the creek.
Surely more must survive? Maybe there’s one half-buried at the back of your garden? Maybe you’ve tripped over one while out for a walk?
The Faversham Society is asking for help in order to develop its project to fully map the historic boundary stones. The Society is also keen to explore how it might draw on this little bit of history to create new heritage assets that will allow future generations to understand how the town has evolved. The new housing developments planned for the town will extend Faversham’s boundaries once again. It would be fitting if these new boundaries were not only drawn, but perhaps even honoured with new boundary stones that will serve as heritage assets for the future.
If you can help locate Faversham’s boundary stones or are interested in getting involved in our work to understand Faversham’s new boundaries, please drop a line to Harold Goodwin. If you have photos of any boundary stones that happen to be on your property, or you have come across them on your travels around town, then even better!