Its site was settled in prehistoric times. Successive waves of immigrants arrived by sea, and the Creek, from continental Europe.
Predecessors of the Romans were the Belgi. They recognised the importance of what we now know as Standard Quay for imports and exports and had a farm next door at what we now know as Abbey Farm.
The Romans replaced this with improved facilities, and after the Abbey was founded in 1148 it followed suit, building among other things the two fine barns we see today. At Standard Quay, picture vessels both loading cargoes of local produce for London and nearby ports in Belgium and France and unloading imports of wines and luxury goods.
The great Abbey Church was faced with stone shipped up the Creek from Caen in Normandy. When it was demolished much of it was shipped back to France to strengthen the defences of the pale of Calais, but some can still be seen in buildings like Arden’s House.
The Creek also saw stone imported for landmark buildings like Faversham Church and Davington Priory, only a few hundred yards from its present head.
The Creek made possible the establishment of a renowned oyster fishery, to which the town owed much of its prosperity. Witness to this are many of its fine medieval houses, the homes of dredgers, in Abbey Street in particular.
In the late 15th century flourishing Creek trade encouraged the Borough Council to build a town warehouse to provide transit storage for merchants who could not afford their own facilities. The building remains in existence as the T S Hasard, one of the few surviving examples of its kind in the UK.
The Creek bred fine seamen, good enough before the days of a Royal Navy to join with other ports (the Cinque Ports Confederation) in the south-east to provide a fleet for the defence of the nation. Without that fleet and the input from Creek seamen the nation’s history would have been very different.
One of the most successful admirals of the fleet was Faversham’s Henry Pay, whose early C15 grave can be seen in Faversham Church. He tormented both the French and the Spanish.
In the 16th century more wool was exported through the Creek than any other English port. This was the nation’s most valuable export and without it the nation’s history would have been very different. England’s economy would have been much poorer, and therefore also its people and its built fabric. It would have been a very backward offshore island.
The calm river at dawn
© 2020 All images and video are copyright of David Townsend