The Royal Charters of Faversham by Peter Tann now available

21 August, 2013 (All day)
The Royal Charters of Faversham

Faversham has a magnificent collection of town charters dating from 1252 to 1685, many of which came to the town as a member of the Cinque Ports. It includes the copy of Magna Carta, acquired independently by the town in 1300. This is undoubtedly the finest collection of any town in Britain still in the physical possession of the Mayor and council. *

The charters have never been published, and a book was long overdue. The Faversham Society has remedied the situation with a publication worthy of the subject. It is a handsome, large format, hardback edition, with exquisite images (on high quality paper), commissioned by the Society. New translations of each document are reprinted here in full. The text is written in an easy style that the publisher hopes will make the book accessible to as wide a readership as possible.

Each charter is accompanied by an analysis of its content – who, what, and why? A useful box gives ‘the bigger picture’ of what was going on in the wider world. Interspersed are narrative essays, bringing in other sources, designed to give a coherent history of the town for the period – or ‘helping to join the dots’ as the author says. Because so much of the resulting story involves the town’s relationship with the abbot of Faversham Abbey, the book begins with chapters on its foundation in 1148, (also by royal charter) and dissolution (1538).

Dr Arthur Percival MBE FSA, author and founder-member of the Faversham Society, says: The Royal Charters of Faversham revises the accepted view of the early history of Faversham in significant ways: the town was affiliated with Dover (and taxed for ship service) before the foundation of the abbey; the abbot never enjoyed exclusive rights over the town, and possibly no rights at all in certain places or over certain liberties. The townsmen continued for more than 250 years to claim the precedence of their (unwritten) Anglo-Saxon privileges. As a last resort, they invoked the ancient rights confirmed to all freemen in Magna Carta. They only gave up their struggle in 1301, when the warden of the Cinque Ports successfully argued that by virtue of the town’s membership of the confederation of the Cinque Ports, its own written constitutional arrangements must prevail.

The Royal Charters of Faversham

210 (+vi) pages, A4, hardback, fully illustrated in colour throughout.

Published by The Faversham Society, price £30 (by mail: £36.50 incl. p+p)

ISBN: 978-1-900214-68-1

Available from

Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre

10-13 Preston Street


Kent ME13 8NS

For credit card orders or enquiries please ring 01795 534542, during opening hours, or email without divulging card details in the first instance.

* Faversham also has one of the finest, fullest and best-preserved municipal archives in Britain. But this is held in the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone. The Calendar alone runs to 380 pages; its surface has hardly been scratched. For anyone wanting to trace municipal history and look at it in a national context, it's a mine waiting to be worked. A start has been made with the two-volume publication of The Early Town Books of Faversham c. 1251 to 1581 available through the Faversham Society.

About the author

Peter Tann has history degrees from Cambridge and London Universities. His career was in international banking, business and management consultancy. He is the secretary of the Publications Committee of the Kent Archaeological Society and chairman of the Kent Victoria County History Trust. He is a former chairman of the Faversham Society. He has written numerous articles for various local history journals.

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