Davington is an ancient parish adjoining the town of Faversham in north Kent.
The urban part of the parish forms the western fringe of the town of Faversham. However, Davington extends into the countryside as far as the rural areas of Luddenham and Oare. The parish includes Bysing Wood and the area’s fishing lakes.
As well as extensive post-war housing developments the parish has industrial areas along the Oare Road and the Western Link Road, where firms such as Brett’s, GIST and Shepherd Neame have premises.
Until post-war residential development connected the parish to Faversham it was predominantly rural, its only built-up area being a cluster of houses around the parish church and school, while scattered dwellings housed its farm workers.
Echoes of the parish identity and community still survive, with older housing mixed in with modern developments.
Standing on top of the ridge which looms over Stonebridge Pond, Davington church is a prominent and much-loved local feature. Dedicated to St Mary Magdalene & St Lawrence the church is the oldest extant building in the Faversham area, much of its fabric dates from the second half of the twelfth century.
Together with the adjoining priory house, it is a substantial remnant of Davington Priory, founded in 1153 for 26 Benedictine nuns and their prioress.
The parish’s history is a fascinating story, connected with the fortunes of its neighbouring town and reflecting the ever-changing nature of the area. There are excellent summaries of various aspects of its history contained in www.faversham.org. The history of Davington Priory, Davington Court and the parish’s connections with the local gunpowder industry are of particular note. Brick making was a major industry in Victorian times.
Davington’s flourishing primary school also has an interesting and, in some respects, quirky past. [see below for links].
The parish’s most striking geographical feature is the sharply defined ridge, up which Davington Hill, Brent Hill and Dark Hill travel, with the parish church sitting at its top. The church tower, floodlit at night, can be seen from miles around. The ridge runs south-west to north-east, losing height as it approaches the marshes and sea. Its topography is similar to the ridge upon which Bysing Wood stands further to the west.
Davington Light Railway Station
picture courtesy of The Faversham Society
The population of Davington parish is approaching 6,000. Davington Priory is a local government ward within the Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council areas. Until the civic boundary changes brought into effect in 2004 the electoral ward broadly mirrored the ecclesiastical parish.
There are three current histories of different aspects of the parish generally available:
Robert Hackford, The School in an Orchard (Faversham Papers No 16)
Kenneth Melrose, Davington: Parish & People (Faversham Papers No 52), 1996
John Burke and Laurence Young, A History of Davington Priory, 2003
All three publications are available from the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre in Preston Street, Faversham. The latter is also available, priced £4.00 including P&P, by writing to 3 Dark Hill, Davington, Kent ME13 7SP
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