Faversham’s markets are a prized feature of this lively historic town. In the Domesday Book, Faversham was one of only 42 places in England where a market was recorded. Among the privileges conferred by Henry VIII in the town’s Charter of Incorporation in 1546 was the right to hold markets. Charter Markets are still held in the Market Place and along Court Street every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday throughout the year.
There are also Best of Faversham Arts, Crafts and Food Markets and Antiques & Vintage Markets (visit www.favershammarket.org) for details. Just once a year, on one unmissable day in high summer, this year on Sunday 24 June, from 10am-5pm, Faversham holds its wonderful Open Gardens Day, when 1,000 visitors descend on some of Faversham’s most interesting gardens – 29 will be opening this year – ranging from tiny, plant-packed courtyards to a wildflower meadow within ancient walls. A unique and especially lovely feature of the day is the Garden Market (10am-4pm) in the Market Place and Court Street. This year there will be 28 stalls selling plants, food and drink, vintage garden artefacts, tools and a great deal more.
This preview covers just a few of the stallholders taking part. In pride of place each market day in the Guildhall arcade is the Guildhall Plant Stall, known as ‘Richard’s plant stall’, stocking local gardens for the past 23 years. On Garden Market Day, it will offer a huge range of good plants, from bedding out to herbaceous perennials, fantastic shrubs, and top and soft fruit, all at temptingly modest prices. Richard has an extensive knowledge of his plants, gained when he worked at his parents’ nursery near Lenham. He buys from local nurseries wherever possible, and some stock comes from Holland. For the Garden Market Richard says he will have plenty of perennials, agapanthus and Salvia‘Hot Lips’, which he says is his most popular plant: ‘Everyone in Faversham must have at least 20.’
Plantswoman Ylva Blid Mackenzie’s Madrona Nursery (www.madrona.co.uk) in Bethersden, Kent, will have on her stall unusual, rare and and new shrubs, perennials, ferns and grasses. Her plants are exceptionally well grown and reasonably priced. Her stall sells out rapidly, so go early. Copton Ash is an outstanding garden on the Ashford Road, just south of Faversham, on the site of a former cherry orchard. Tim and Gillian Ingram grow wonderful snowdrops, hellebores and woodland plants, followed by drought-tolerant plants in summer. They grow alpines in raised beds and have a small alpine nursery, which will provide choice plants for their market stall.
Edibleculture (www.edibleculture.co.uk) is a new venture set up by Chris Williams and David Ware, both of whom worked previously at Brogdale: ‘That sparked our passion for edibles,’ says Chris. Their base is now the Horticultural Unit at The Abbey School on the London Road, where the shop is open every day of the week from 9am-5pm. Their stall at the Garden Market will feature ‘chillis, interesting mints, oreganos – things that are really pungent at this time of year – old-fashioned English herbs, medicinal herbs, plants that are good companion plants for vegetables, and a few fruit trees to suggest what we do as a business.’ The shop also stocks peat-free composts, garden tools, pest control products for organic gardeners and other garden sundries.
Don’t miss the stall of the Abbey Physic Community Garden and follow it by visiting the peaceful and therapeutic community garden in Abbey Place. The garden is for the benefit of the whole community, with a special emphasis on working with people with mental health needs. The stall will have plants and craft items for sale, information about the charity, its work and the 3 x 6m plot, called ‘Hopping through Kent’, that it will be taking to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show next month.
Kevin Garside’s Vintage Garden Tools stand will have a wide selection of hand tools – hoes, spades and forks, and tools for coppicing and hedgelaying, such as billhooks and slashers. Kevin has had his stall in Faversham for 18 months: ‘I like Faversham. It’s one of the best markets in Kent without any shadow of doubt.’ Kevin supplies a refurbishing service for old garden tools, and is expanding into gardenalia – galvanised watering cans, doorstops and other vintage items. Contact Kevin by email on email@example.com.
Rune Wold is going to markets in France this weekend to buy stock for his Norse Vintage stall. ‘I shall be coming back with lots of goodies,’ he says. He will have garden chairs and tables, vintage containers of all sorts, including coveted dolly tubs, decorative items for the garden, and maybe some rugs, blankets and throws to keep people warm in their gardens on summer evenings.
Faversham’s Market Place is full of cafes and pubs, and there will be several stalls in the Garden Market offering food or drink. They will include Brogdale Craft Cider, which will be selling three or four Woolly Pig fresh ciders – medium, dry and a couple of flavoured ciders – by the glass or to take away. All of their ciders are made from fresh apples from the Brogdale Collections, which have been pressed and fermented. Lilia Andrianavony’s Taste of Madagascar stall will be selling delicious food with a variety of influences – French, British, African and Indian. The menu includes samosas and chicken rolls, dhal, tangy green beans cooked with onions in white wine vinegar, Lasary, which is shredded carrot and cabbage with dried spices, and some spicy, African-inspired chicken and rice dishes.
Dave Law’s Independent Trotters stall will be selling egg and bacon rolls and hog roast made with pork from his herd of rare-breed pigs – British Saddlebacks, Berkshires, Gloucester Old Spots and Oxford and Sandy Blacks. The stall of David Simmons, Borough Councillor and farmer, will be piled high with local produce, including soft fruit from his own farm – raspberries, strawberries, cherries and gooseberries – also free range eggs and apple juice. Huge and delicious globe artichokes grown in Selling will also feature.
Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day is a Faversham Society event (www.favershamsociety.org), raising money to help the Society protect the town’s historic buildings and environment. Tickets are £6 each or £10 for two (to include one handbook and an additional map). Available from the Faversham Society’s Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre, 15-17 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8JL. Also available from the Open Gardens & Garden Market Day stall in the Market Place on Saturday 16 June, and on the day, on Sunday 24 June.
Text: Sarah. Photography: Alexandra Campbell, Lisa Valder, Abbey Physic Community Garden