“I know nothing else this town is remarkable for, except the most notorious smuggling trade” - Daniel Defoe, author of “Robinson Crusoe”, writing about Faversham in 1724.
This is the story of smugglers (and pirates!) in Faversham and neighbouring towns from the middle ages to modern times and the authorities’ struggle to stop them.
For centuries the area around Faversham with its many inlets and creeks and well hidden trails across the marshes was fertile ground for a lucrative smuggling trade with the continent. Central to this account are vivid descriptions of often deadly encounters between the men who plied this trade and officers who were sent to stamp it out. The dangers and hardships endured by Customs officials and their families and the brutal punishments meted out to smugglers when they were caught are brought to life. Also here you will encounter well known and colourful characters such as Thomas Ardern (“Ardern of Faversham”) and the mad, doomed “Sir William Courtney” of Bossenden Wood fame.
For those with a broader interest in Faversham’s history there is much interesting detail on the complexities of the town’s and port’s relationships with the crown and the Cinque Ports and the account ends with closure of the town’s last customs office as recently as 1990.