If you ever want to be reminded that you belong to a  maritime nation make a visit to Faversham.  Even if you don’t it is well worth a visit.  Back in the 16th Century Henry VIII’s fleet were anchored in Faversham as signposted on the site of the Bear Inn.  This pub is the oldest in the town but now sadly, is a hairdressers.  However,  as you would hope in the home of Shepherd Neame brewery there are many thriving pubs in the town and its surrounds.   The buildings both domestic and commercial remind you of the town’s heritage; one of the shops opposite the Guildhall has a plaque dating from 1570.

When visiting Faversham I normally start at the docks.  You get a real sense that this was once an important port on the Thames by the collection of interesting buildings along the southern shore.  Most of these are now used as shops or artisan workshops.   Aladdin’s Loft is well worth a visit if you are interested in antiques and memorabilia.  It is open 7 days a week 10am to 4pm.  There is a monthly Saturday auction with viewing on  Friday.   The classic vehicle restoration workshop is well worth a visit.  There was a NYPD classic car on view the last time which generated much attention from  passing visitors.  There is a small but interesting garden centre that sells very reasonable terracotta pots.  A tea room and a woodturning workshop are also housed in the old black pitched sheds.  The Mitchell Art Gallery is a recent addition at the dock. The most breathtaking aspect of the docks, however, is the opportunity to see Thames barges at close range.  These graceful vessels do give you a glimpse into a past way of life on the Thames and its Estuary.

Thames Barge at the docks

It is a short walk from the docks to the town centre.  The brewery is positioned prominently on the main road that leads to the market square.  Tours of the brewery are available. I last visited  Faversham in September and many of shops and pubs were celebrating the town’s brewing tradition with lavish displays of hops.  What I really like about the town is that its shops are interesting and many are unique and on top of that it also has a market three days a week (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday).  Not many towns can boast this at a time when most high streets are struggling to survive.  The market is centred around and under the Guildhall in Market Place.

I visited Whites of Kent on my last visit.  What a delight.  The staff were so helpful and even introduced me to Mr White the present owner.  The family run store has been there since 1954 when Mrs White, the present owners mother, started the shop for the repair of lisle stockings.  Not everyone will remember these but amazingly you can still buy them on the internet.  These were the only stockings that were available during and after the second world war.  The store continues to sell lingerie and household linens.

Faversham High Stree

I would also recommend a visit to Haselden Hats and General Miscellany another unique shop.  It is the place to go if you are looking for a hat as there is quite a large range of both men’s and women’s hats.  In my opinion the real test of a high street is if there is a butchers and the quality of it.  This prejudice is based upon my personal preference for flavoursome meat that is only really achieved if it has been hung for sometime.  Faversham boasts two butchers shops.  I have only been into Barkaway’s family butchers which was very good and the staff very helpful.