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Faversham Abbey

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A former Benedictine monastery of the Cluniac Congregation situated in the County of Kent about nine miles west of Canterbury. It was founded about 1147 by King Stephen and his Queen Matilda. Clarimbald, the prior of Bermondsey, and twelve other monks of the same abbey were transferred to Faversham to form the new community; Clarimbald was appointed abbot. It was dedicated to Our Saviour and endowed with the manor of Faversham. In the church, which was completed about 1251, Stephen and Matilda, the founders, were buried and also their eldest son Eustace Earl of Boulogne. We read of chapels in the church dedicated to Our Lady and St. Anne. Henry II confirmed all grants and privileges conferred by Stephen, adding others to them, and all these were again confirmed to the monks by Kings John and Henry III. The abbots had their seat in Parliament and we find them in attendance at thirteen several parliaments during the reigns of Edward and Edward II, but on account of their reduced state and poverty, they ceased to attend after the 18th, Edward II. It appears that some bitterness existed for a considerable time between the monks and the people of Faversham, who complained of the abbey's imposts and exactions. Among these grievances were claims, by way of composition, for allowing the inhabitants to send their swine to pannage, for exposing their goods for sale in the market, and for the liberty of brewing beer. Twenty-two abbots are known to us; the last was John Shepey, alias Castelocke, who, on 10 December, 1534, along with the sacristan and four monks, is said to have signed the Act of Supremacy. On 8 July, 1538, the abbey was surrendered to the king, at which time the annual revenue was about £350. Henry VIII gave the house and site to John Wheler for twenty-one years at an annual rent of £3 18s. 8d. Afterwards the property came into the possession of Sir Thomas Cheney, warden of the Cinque Ports. Later it was owned by Thomas Ardern and subsequently came to belong to the family of Sondes. The two entrance gates where standing a century ago, but had to be taken down on account of their ruinous condition. At the present day there is nothing left except some portions of the outer walls.

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