A brief return to Faversham, one of my favourite places. In his 1969 Shell Guide to Kent Pennethorne Hughes says 'A delightful market town and small port, obviously conscious of its historical and architectural heritage, but busy and contemporary. It has no showpiece for gogglers, but any number of pleasant buildings.....[and] has various industries: grain and flour, oysters, bricks, canning and packing works for the fruit and vegetables from the country roundabout, and a pleasant and occasional smell of brewing'. It still feels as though bricks and flour should be stacked up on the quayside, and there is certainly much activity down there, but the town still has at its heart the brewer, Shepherd Neame, the oldest brewer in Britain. (Check out their Unmitigated English new bottle labels.) The town is also the setting of Arden of Faversham, a brilliant play once ascribed to both Shakespeare and Marlowe. Murder and mayhem amongst the grain sacks.
Oddly, the Shell Guide has only one Faversham photograph, by Edwin Smith, of the 1574 Guildhall perched on its timber supports. So I'm hoping the picture above of Standard Quay gives something more of both the flavour of the town and the Shell Guides sense of place, following far behind in the footsteps of Smith, John Piper et al. The big white house is, I believe, an old Customs House.
A correction to the above has arrived at Ashley Towers from a stalwart of the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre in Faversham, who tells me that the 'Customs House' I had assumed it was is, in fact, '...the home of John Matthew Goldfinch, our foremost builder of sailing
barges, who had his yard next door. His most famous barge was the eponymous
Goldfinch, launched c1894. She was sold out of British service c
1930 and sold to a sugar company in what is now Guyana. The key point is that
she crossed the Atlantic under sail, with no auxiliary.Yet she was designed
only for UK coastal waters and short trips across the Straits of Dover and
southern North Sea to ports from NE France to the Baltic.'
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)
"Open this book with reverence. It is a hymn to England". Clive Aslet
"Enchanting...delightful". The Bookseller "Cheekily named" We Love This Book
The Cigarette Papers
"Unexpectedly pleasing and engrossing...beautifully illustrated". The Bookseller
"Until the happy advent of Peter Ashley's Cross Country it has, ironically, been foreigners who have been best at celebrating Englishness". Christina Hardyment / The Independent
More from Unmitigated England
"Give this book to someone you know- if not everyone you know." Simon Heffer, Country Life. "When it comes to spotting the small but telling details of Englishness, Peter Ashley has no equal." Michael Prodger, Sunday Telegraph