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Faversham Almshouses, grand and magnificent,
are on the northern side of South Road, a short walk to the west of
the town centre. The central chapel, constructed in Bath stone, stands
out as being especially grand, rising as it does from a street of otherwise
fairly normal housing, and the entire complex of seventy units which
makes up the almshouses takes up perhaps two-thirds of the large
wedge of land between South Road, Tanner Street and Napoleon Road.
Considered to be one of the largest and finest
schemes of its type in the country, this 1863 building replaced a
number of scattered almshouses in the town. Construction on such a
grand scale and to such high standards was only possible because a
local solicitor and former town mayor named Henry Wreight
(1760-1840) left a bequest, one of several across the centuries.
The chapel and gate shown here form the centrepiece of the main
The plaque, located at the south-western corner
of the main building, reads: 'This hospital was founded by Thomas
Napleton Esq, a native and steward of this town and endowed by him
for the comfortable support of six poor men of the said town under
the trust... of this corporation who built these houses... in the
year 1723'. Underneath, another inscription reads: 'This stone was
removed from the original almshouses, Tanners Street, and re-erected
The apse and the magnificent Willement great west
window are shown here. The coat of arms at the foot of the centre
section of the window is that of the Cinque Ports. The chapel also
contains a small, but rather excellent two-manual Father Smith organ
which has recently been restored. Although it may not seem to be the
case from outside, the almshouses chapel is usually open. There are
entrance doors on either side, under the arcades.
The main building is 143 metres (470 feet) long,
although it is broken up by projecting bays and by the chapel, while
this end section forms an 'L' shape on the north-eastern end, overlooking
Napoleon Road. Applicants for rooms must have been residents of
Faversham for five years. In 1982 the buildings were modernised at a
cost of one million pounds and re-opened by Queen Elizabeth the
Queen Mother in her role as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
The nave itself, plus the long south wing of the
almshouses, overlooks the presbytery of the Catholic Church of Our
Lady of Mount Carmel on Tanners Street, part of a natural progression
from one to the other for anyone making a tour of Faversham's churches.
The design for the chapel itself was handled by two Kent architects,
Hooker and Wheeler of Brenchley, but very little else seems to be known
of them. Thankfully, their work speaks volumes for their abilities.
Three photos and text on this page
kindly contributed by Arthur Percival.