Hot Spot: Faversham, Kent

Good rail links and old-world charm are all that this historic town needs, says Robert Liebman

If you are stuck up, stay away. "The town is a friendly, unpretentious place, positively not 'smart'. People who give themselves airs and graces don't usually stay very long," says Faversham Society Honorary Director Arthur Percival, MBE MA Dlitt FAHI.

Although Faversham is a few miles south of the coast, it is linked to the sea by Faversham Creek and Oare Creek. "The town is popular with people who keep boats," Percival adds. "We have plenty of pubs, none of them themed, and most are in listed buildings, of which there are nearly 500 altogether. The town has a co-ed grammar, a comprehensive and some excellent primary schools, and is self-sufficient for shopping and entertainment."

Lawrence Mayne of Bradford & Bingley notes that his catchment area has price appeal for commuting familes: "Out of town purchasers, especially Londoners who find Whitstable too pricey, show considerable interest in the town. The mainstay of our market is family homes, and great schooling ensures that buyers don't have to pay a premium to get into school catchment areas."

Charles Dawes, the regional director of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, adds that "the major growth areas of Kent are to the north in the Thames Gateway, and Ashford, both of which are easily accessible from Faversham, which retains its old-world charm. Prices have been rising steadily, but not dramatically, as this lesser known area of Kent becomes discovered, but they compare favourably with other more fashionable areas of Kent. Family townhouses in the old part of the town are popular, as are villages to the south of the town such as Selling, Sheldwich and Throwley. They are far enough away from the M2 to not be affected by noise, and surrounded by apple orchards in the delightful North Downs countryside."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Faversham links with London Victoria and Cannon Street; journey time is just over an hour. Ashford International is 12 miles away on the A251. Faversham is near junction six of the M2. Canterbury is eight miles east.

Attractions

Faversham has guided walks, brewery tours, and a Gunpowder Trail, which includes Chart Gunpowder Mills and Ordnance Wharf among the more than two-dozen sites to visit. Brogdale Horticultural Trust has more than 400 varieties of fruit trees and plans, and hosts the National Fruit Collection.

Events

Local events range from Pat-a-Lamb Day (2-3 May) at Mount Ephraim Gardens to the Classic Car and Bike Show (16 May). Shakespeare is performed under the stars in June at Mount Ephraim, and Davington Fair is held in July at Davington Priory. Summer aquatic events include a creek raft race and a sailing barge race.

Boasts

Faversham claims the UK's oldest brewery, oldest company (Oyster Fishery), oldest club (Farmers') and gunpowder mill, and Kent's oldest market (1086). It also has the country's longest preserved medieval street.

Prices

A first-floor one-bed flat in a modern court development, £115,000 leasehold (99 years from 1985; £776 annual maintenance). A three-bed semi with large garage/workshop, £177,500. Both at Baldwins. A three-bed bungalow with garage, £370,000 at Bradford & Bingley. Five-bed village houses set in their own grounds sell for £750,000 to £800,000

Exotic

In Oare, three miles from Faversham, a Grade II*-listed three-storey brick village house has a Georgian façade, five bedrooms, cellar and 19th-century wallpaper depicting ancient temples in Peru in 1531, during the period when it was invaded by Spain. The garden is 45-square feet, and the upper storeys overlook Oare Creek; £385.000 at Cluttons.

The Mall

A two-bed Victorian detached house with two cellar rooms and 40ft-garden, £214,950, and a four-bed period terrace with sitting room, dining room, and period fireplaces in each, £334,950, both at Bradford & Bingley.

Old

A 16th-century Grade II-listed half-timbered house on West Street in the town centre has three bedrooms, cellar, loft room and small garden; £315,000 at Cluttons. Also on West Street, Bradford & Bingley are selling a two-bed half-timbered house with additional attic bedroom and large garden, £339,995.

New

Jacob Villas consists of 12 flats and houses, from £130,000 for a one-bed ground-floor flat to £235,000 for a two-bed end terrace. Each unit has garage space and visitor parking is also available. Plane Tree Court consists of two new flats and five townhouses on the grounds of a former school hall. All properties are leasehold (999 years); two are currently available, £292,500 and £295,000, Cluttons 01227 457441.

Estate agents

Baldwins, 01795 533544; Bradford & Bingley, 01795 538112; Cluttons (Canterbury), 01622 756000; Stacks, 01233 732331.

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