By Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Faversham Society
The Oyster Fishery map, Hand drawn and coloured in 1620
For a town of its size, the charter collection of Faversham is one of the finest anywhere in England. The earliest surviving Faversham charter dates from the reign of Henry III in 1252, followed by eighteen more granted by 1685. For the first time, they are exhibited in a permanent display in the Town Hall, enter through the Faversham Society VIC & shop.
There is not space to display all of Faversham’s charters, the exhibits will change over time. On display at the moment are Faversham’s earliest common seal from 1295; the Magna Carta from 1300; Henry IV’s illuminated charter, 1408; Henry VIII’s charter; the Custumal Book (The First Town-Book of Faversham) dating to the end of the fourteenth century and the Common Horn, made of leaded bronze with traces of nickel, arsenic, iron and zinc and used to summon the townspeople.
The Oyster Fishery Maps were drawn by hand in pen and ink on parchment and are coloured with watercolour around 1620, made at the time of an enquiry into the boundaries of Faversham manor and hundred. The maps were made to show the extent of the oyster fishery and other fishing grounds, so the shoreline and the various mud and shingle banks are very accurately shown. Notice also the fish ‘weares’ or traps on the right (East) on the shores of Sheppey and Whitstable. Artificial embankments and sea walls are shown as bold red lines.
An oyster fishery was probably established in Faversham in Roman times. Edward Jacob writing in 1774 tells us that “the only staple commodity of this town being the oysters taken within the fishing grounds belonging to the manor of Faversham, by which not less than one hundred and ten families are principally supported, and the whole town much benefited.” The tradition lives on with Bluey at Hollowshore Fisheries harvesting oysters for sale in Faversham and London.
Faversham's Magna Carta. At the foot of this copy it is stated in Latin that it is for the barons of the Port of Faversham. Originally granted by King John 1215, Faversham’s version is a confirmation of the re-issue of 1225.
A bond dated 1295 'By the Mayor and Corporation of Faversham are to repay Sir Walter de Langton, Keeper of the Wardrobe of King Edward I, upon demand, the sum of 24 marks.'