Friends of the CKA: Visit to Faversham Abbey.

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Friends' Visit to Faversham Abbey

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Friends of the CKA.

Open Day visit to Faversham Abbey.

On a bright and sunny late-summer day in September, some 20 Friends of the CKA visited the site of Faversham Abbey.

After meeting at Abbey School, they walked to the site of the abbey, where Brian Philp -- Chairman of the CKA -- told the story of the excavations which he had directed there, early in 1965.

PHOTO: Brian Philp showing a plan of the abbey excavation. CAPTION: Brian Philp shows the plan of the Abbey Excavation.

The abbey was founded by King Stephen and Queen Matilda in 1147, and run by Cluniac monks.

Both Stephen and Matilda, and their eldest son Eustace, were buried in the Abbey Church; Stephen in 1154, Matilda in 1151, and Eustace in 1153.

Excavations have shown that the Abbey Church was some 364 feet (110 metres) long.

The Abbey was destroyed in about 1538 as part of King Henry VIII's Great Dissolution, with a large amount of the building material being transported by ship to Calais to strengthen the English fortifications there.

The remains now lie beneath the grammar school's playing field, with little visible above ground except for part of the west end of the church. The bottom section of the west front, blocked west doorway and a small external stair-turret are open for viewing (by arrangement) although, as the Friends' discovered, they are now largely covered by vegetation.

From there, the group moved on to the Abbey barns on Abbey Farm. There are two barn buildings -- a larger (Grade 2 listed) and a smaller (Grade 1 listed).

PHOTO: One of the abbey barns. CAPTION: The larger Abbey Barn.

Guided by Mr Ray Harrison, the Friends' were allowed to look inside the buildings (with the permission of the owner) and see the medieval timber-framed construction. These two buildings have recently been dated by dendro­chronolgy (tree-ring dating) and found to date from about 1425, with some rebuilding to the larger barn in 1475. The remains of some other early buildings, associated with the abbey, are also still visible in the immediate area.

 

An excavation report of the Abbey has been published by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit.

Footnote: At the end of the excavations of the Abbey in 1965, a Roman Villa was found adjacent to the church -- and was itself excavated. The villa was subsequently covered up and nothing is now visible.
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