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. 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 (2009).
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 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 sterling 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.
Five photos on this page by P L Kessler, and three
by Arthur Percival.