This paper sets out to tell the story of one of Kent’s most important locations, Abbey Street in Faversham. This street has a recorded history of nearly 900 years, has spanned many different historical eras, and seen great change and development. The growth of this street both encapsulates and reflects many of the key events of history that have occurred throughout its life. It has many fascinating stories to tell.
Other than its most important complex of buildings – Faversham Abbey and almost all its associated buildings built before c1500 – the majority built thereafter survive to this day and there is a great deal of documented evidence to give us a clear picture of how the street has changed from its first laying down until today. It has faced threats, such as in the mid-16th and mid-20th centuries but has survived to evolve and prosper to become one of the most desirable residential locations in the county.
Perhaps surprisingly, this paper is the first time all the history and evidence about this street have been brought together into a single paper, the main sources of information being set out in a bibliography at the end. These include published books and magazines on local history, maps, pictures and photographs, collections of archive materials, local libraries, and reminiscences and personal archives from local people.
As the street approaches its 900 year anniversary, it makes an interesting case study in social history: in how land that initially was simply a thoroughfare with the specific role of access to a particular site became developed for general commerce and housing; the influence this had on its neighbourhood as it became a gateway for land beyond; how political decisions by local, regional and national government have shaped the space; the role of institutions such as the Monarchy and the Church; greed and corruption; pressure groups; and the every-day effect of human interaction. We are fortunate indeed that the street has not suffered physical damage through conflict and war, and thus we see clearly the effect of man and his needs played out over its life, as the people that have lived in the street and its environs have shaped what is here to their ever-changing needs.