The History of Faversham
The ancient market town of Faversham is set within the garden county of Kent, it dates as far back into history as Roman times and beyond. The Roman Legions arrived, invading England claiming villages and towns as they went. They settled in Faversham bringing with them their knowledge, and expertise, they built villas, Roman Baths, and buildings and they re-named it Durolevum. Its strategic position with easy access to Europe saw sailing barges used for centuries bringing goods into, and out of the town. When the Romans finally left, the Saxons arrived from Germany, and settled. They farmed the area, trade increased and the town prospered.
After William the Conqueror successfully beat King Harold in the bloody battle fought in 1066 , he, together with his army marched across the land building magnificent churches and castles. An Abbey was founded here in 1148 by King Stephen that was to stand the test of time until the Dissolution of the Monasteries enforced by King Henry VIII when he broke free from Rome, and declared himself head of the Church of England. The Abbey, like many others was destroyed, it was dismantled and the stone sent to France to be used in fortifying their defences. The Church however, dedicated to St Mary of Charity survived and its magnificent floating spire can still be seen today. It has an important place in history as it is the final resting place of King Stephen, William the Conquerors grandson, and the last of the Norman Kings.
The town was to receive its first charter in 1252 from King Henry III , and another Charter was issued in 1260 detailing Faversham as a member of the Cinque Ports, this was vital with the threat of invasion as it was necessary to protect England's shores, The Cinque Port Federation ensured that both ships, and men were made ready at all times to protect the shores. Faversham became one of five ports, alongside Hastings , New Romney ,Hythe , Dover and Sandwich , known as the Cinque Ports, and in recognition of becoming a member of the Cinque Ports Federation certain priviledges were maintained, exemption from taxes, and self government to name but two. Also it did not have to pay duty on items brought into the town, which led to further prosperity.
The town continued to grow, industry thrived with its busy sea port exporting goods and securing established trade links, Queen Elizabeth I visited the town and was entertained at the Guildhall, one of three that were built over time. Many houses were constructed which have stood the test of time, and the streets were paved. The 16th Century saw the start of the Gunpowder Works which would feature prominently in the town's history. As the 17th Century dawned the export of wool rose dramatically and saw Faversham export more wool than any other Port in England, together with the production of London Yellow Bricks, it also saw the start of a brewery which would last for centuries.
A decision to raise taxes and duty on luxury goods brought about the profitable industry of Smuggling which reached its height in Faversham in the 18th Century. The 19th Century saw an increase in production of gunpowder for Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar , the railway rattled through in 1858, and the town would see a Munitions Factory erected producing necessary items for the First World War . An explosion would be heard with much loss of life in 1916 which occurred at the Munitions Works. The Second World War saw enemy aircraft tackled in the raids and battles which were bravely fought in the skies above the town during the Battle of Britain in 1940.