The village of Oare is about one mile west of Faversham and lies at the head of Oare Creek, a drying creek running south off the Swale at Harty Ferry.
Head of Oare Creek
Church of St Peter's
Old windmill in Oare Road
Windmill Lane, Oare
Oare has many great outdoor spaces and all these details can be found under Visit Faversham heading - Attractions and Places of Interest
Church of St Peter's
Oare Gunpowder Works
Oare Marshes Nature Reserve
Oare Meadow Nature Reserve
Oare String Orchestra
Village hall - available for hire
Please address any enquiries to the Parish Clerk
Oare Parish Councillors
Chair Cllr Su Vaight
Pheasant Barn, Church Road, Oare, Kent, ME13 0QB
Phone 01795 591654 0207 833 2209
Vice Chair Cllr Gordon Sutton
51 Church Road, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0QA
Phone 01795 534187
Cllr Ian Fidge
45 Church Road, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0QA
Phone 01227 752202 (work)
Cllr Rodney Friar
51 Colegates Close, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0QQ
Cllr Richard Klein
1 Mount Pleasant, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0PZ
Phone 01795 531830 (home) / 07980 385511 (mobile)
Cllr Charlotte Relf
67 Church Road, Oare, Faversham, Kent, ME13 0QA
Cllr Justin Richardson
Uplees House, Uplees Road, Oare, Faversham, Kent ME13 0QR
Phone 01795 536627
Oare Parish Clerk
Kent Lodge, 20 Newton Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8DZ
Phone 01795 530141
Please address enquiries to the Parish Clerk
Village Hall Bookings
Phone Cllr Ian Fidge – 01227 752202
Phone Linda Kennett – 01795 531527
Village News for Publication in Local Papers
Phone Clare Slater – 01795 534421 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Parish Council meetings
All meetings are at 7.30pm in the Village Hall, Church Road, Oare.
The village port with two nature reserves
Picturesquely over its tidal creek, Oare is a far cry from its better-known Exmoor namesake. Its cliff-like Normans (North-men’s) Hill probably takes its name from the Vikings who in the 8th and 9th centuries used to take their summer ‘holidays’ on the nearby Isle of Sheppey and terrorise mainland Kent.
They weren’t the first invaders to be attracted to the area, though. The Romans were here first, settling near Normans Hill and elsewhere in the parish. It was a site too good to miss. Fertile soil on the uplands, good grazing on the lowlands, a handy anchorage, and the open sea closer than it is now - just a couple of kilometres away.
Bricks and gunpowder
Today the Creek teems with pleasure vessels and there’s a well-stocked chandlery to meet their owners’ needs. Picture it a century ago, or even less - very different. Sailing barges plied in and out on every tide. They left with cargoes of gunpowder, from the Oare and Marsh Works, and bricks, from the Ham brickfield.
They arrived with ‘rough-stuff’, London rubbish, to be sifted for cinders which could be used to fire the bricks in clamps; or with saltpetre and sulphur, two of the three ingredients for gunpowder. The other, charcoal, was made from wood grown locally. Opposite the Church you can still see the saltpetre store, with its arched roof of corrugated iron, and stone-sided dock. Beyond, in the distance, are Whitstable and the slopes of Tankerton.
Sailors like a drop to drink. Moulding bricks - thousands a day, maybe - is thirsty work. No surprise that Oare had three pubs, and still has today. The Three Mariners (just the Mariners locally) is the oldest, pitched on a steep slope in the heart of the village. Handiest for the head of the creek is the Castle. Best known, though remotest, is the Shipwrights’ Arms (‘Shipwrights’), at the confluence of Oare and Faversham Creeks. With huge views over open marshland, this is a wonderfully peaceful spot on a calm day - but in stormy weather gives even a landlubber a foretaste of the perils of the sea.
A captive king
The family feuds of the Exmoor Oare in the time of James II were fictionalised in Lorna Doone. No need for fiction here. It was here that James II himself landed in 1688. Not in glory, though: in ignominy. At the invitation of the authorities, the Protestant William of Orange had landed at Torbay and marched on London. Discretion was the better part of valour; and the King, about to lose his throne, and not wanting to lose his head, as his father had done, decided on discreet escape. Only it wasn’t very discreet. He left London with an entourage of Catholic priests.
There was money on their heads and when local fishermen found them, and James, cowering in a vessel anchored off Shellness, nearby, they seized them, landed them at Oare, and frog-marched them into Faversham. The man in civvies they didn’t recognise; and it was left to Richard Marsh, a brewer in the town, to identify him. He wasn’t at all well treated, and feared for his life. However the new régime had the sense not to make a martyr of him, and after some delicate negotiations the captive king was released and then allowed to resume his flight to the Continent.
Church, farm and manor house
In Church Road, the village street, there are still some of the buildings James II would have seen, most notably the Church itself, a medieval building standing on the edge of a precipitous slope and so commanding fine views over the creek and beyond. Imagine seamen coming here to offer thanks for their safe return from stormy seas, even shipwreck.
Next door is ancient Pheasant Farm, now a private house, and its superb 17th-century barn, imaginatively converted into a home. Not far away, up a private track, is Court Lodge, the old manor house, recently lovingly restored.
Serenity at the shoreline
The road beyond is a cul-de-sac - but what a dead end! Don’t miss it. About 1km further on are old coastguard cottages, complete with disused gun emplacement, and then the road suddenly dips. This is the old coastline. Beyond is a vast area which in the 19th century was reclaimed from tidal saltings. The road ends at Harty Ferry but continues over the sea wall as a hard.
There’s no ferry now across The Swale to the Isle of Harty, opposite, more’s the pity; so the historic Ferry Inn on the other side is out of reach unless you have a boat - or can be bothered to spend 45 minutes getting there by road! But at least there’s a wonderful serenity about this shoreline, and some superb views.
From high explosives factory to nature reserve: Oare Marshes
Gushing with pure, fresh water, you may notice an artesian well. This is a survivor of a fuse factory which once stood here. A factory in this remote spot? Yes, not just this one, but three. On the other side of the road was the Cotton Powder Company, producing every kind of high explosive, and in vast quantities, and, beyond it, the Explosives Loading Company, filling bombs and shells with its product. Between them these two factories occupied an area larger than the City of London, with their own offices, power station and railway network. Imagine something like a huge modern chemical factory.
They all went at the end of the First World War and now ... most of the site is the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, famous for its birdlife, a wetland site of international importance, carefully conserved for us all by the Kent Wildlife Trust. There’s an informative Visitor Centre, usually open at week-ends. Just don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
Uplees and the Great Explosion
Retrace your track and make for Uplees, still in Oare. Another remote spot, with fine farmland on a ridge overlooking the marshes. An unmetalled track and public footpath leads down to another part of the explosives factory complex. Sheep now graze safely where once stocks of TNT were made - and built up. One of the magazines blew up in the Great Explosion of 2 April 1916 - the worst in the history of the UK industry - and more than 100 staff lost their lives. Their mass grave in Faversham cemetery is best seen in spring, when it is carpeted with daffodils.
Back in the village, just beyond the head of the creek, is Oare’s other nature reserve - Oare Meadow. Tiny by comparison with Oare Marshes, this is important mainly for its plant life. Never disturbed by drainage, ploughing or seeding, it is unusual in supporting both fresh- and salt-water plants.
Smuggling, what about smuggling? There are so many stories, and not all of them are true, but, yes, it was a major local industry in the 18th century. Almost everyone was in on the game, one way and another, including sometimes officers of HM Customs & Excise, whose eyes could so easily be blinded by a bribe or two.