A print of Faversham in the 1830s, when the town had a cattle market and an annual fair
Faversham is locally situated in the hundred of Faversham in the lathe of Scray, but has a separate jurisdiction, being a member of Dover, one of the Cinque Ports. It is on a stream running into the East Swale, and just to the left of the road to Dover, 47 miles from London Bridge. It appears to have been a place of some note before the time of Stephen, who built and endowed here Faversham Abbey for Cluniac monks, in which himself, his queen Matilda, and his eldest son Eustace of Boulogne were buried. This abbey was at the time of the dissolution in the hands of the Benedictine order : its revenue was £355, 15 shillings and 2 pence gross, or £286, 12 shillings and 6 pence 3 farthings clear. Some portions of the outer walls remain. At the dissolution the remains of King Stephen were thrown into the river, for the sake of the leaden coffin in which they were contained.
The parish of Faversham comprehends 2,270 acres, and had in 183l a population of 4,429, less than one-tenth agricultural. The population of the adjacent parish of Preston, a village which joins Faversham town, was at the same time 675. The town, which has been much improved in the last half century, consists principally of four streets forming an irregular cross, and having the guildhall and market-place in the Centre.
The church, which is a large cruciform structure of flint, has some portions in the decorated English style ; other portions are of later date. There is a light tower at the west end, crowned with pinnacles, and surmounted by an octagonal spire. There are an assembly-room and a theatre. Faversham is a port, and has an excise-office and custom-house. The creek or arm of the Swale on which the town stands is navigable for vessels of 150 tons, several coasting vessels belong to the port. Coals from the North of England and timber from the Baltic are imported. The exports are chiefly agricultural produce, corn, hops, fruit, and wool, which are sent to London by hoys. There is no manufacture now except of gunpowder and cement on a small scale. The oyster fishery, which is an important branch of industry, employs about 250 adult males. The oyster fishermen and dredgermen form an incorporated company.
The markets are on Wednesday and Saturday ; there are a monthly cattle-market and an annual fair. The council of the borough of Faversham, under the Municipal Reform Act, consists of four aldermen or jurats and twelve councillors.
The living is a vicarage in the diocese and archdeaconry of Canterbury, of the clear yearly value of £342, with a glebe-house. There were in 1833 a well endowed grammar-school, with 12 scholars ; a national school with 185 children ; and twenty-one other day-schools, with 640 children ; two boarding-schools with 105 children ; and three Sunday-schools with 452 children. There are several dissenting meeting-houses.
Reproduced from the Old Towns website, a resource of data from articles written between 1833 and 1848 and originally published in 'The Penny Cyclopedia' by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge