A Tale Of Two Kings

With its town motto “The Market Town of Kings”, it’s pride that it is the only town in the United Kingdom to be granted the privilege of using the Royal Arms of England (the three lions) as its own, and that it is one of the few places outside of London to have had a King and Queen buried there, you can’t deny that Faversham has strong royal connections.  It has hosted many royal visitors over the centuries.  Yet no two royal visits could be more different in terms of hospitality and circumstances than the visits made by the Stuart brothers King Charles II and King James II.

The brothers were the sons of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria of France, they grew up in England as heirs to the throne in England, Ireland and Scotland.  It is well known that King Charles I was unpopular, which eventually lead to him being deposed and an all-out civil war that eventually lead to his capture, trial and execution in January 1649.

For the next decade, the brothers lived in exile in France until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 saw Charles II returned to the throne with his brother as heir.

The Mayor of Faversham during this time was a man named Captain John Trowts, who it is said, was not just a Royalist supporter but a close ally of the King.  The two men had shared part of the royal exile abroad together and through Trowts shipping interests, money and essential correspondence reached the exiled king.

One of the first visits made by the newly restored Charles was to Faversham, to thank Trowts personally for the services he had rendered. The story goes that in 1660, the King called on Trowts’ house at 23 Court Street. He was received by John but Mrs Trowts was in the kitchen, and Charles insisted on seeing her there. There she was, making pastry for a royal reception later in the day, and up to her elbows in pie-crust. Imagine her surprise when the King burst in. As she mopped her brow with her blue apron, he gave her a "hearty salutation"

Sadly, for James his time in Faversham would not have been as jolly as his brother’s. Catholic James II was, like his father before him, an unpopular choice as King.  By 1688 James decided to leave quietly and disguised as the servant of close friend, Sir Edward Hales, he boarded a "miserable fisher-boat" in London to take refuge in France.

The following day the party were captured off Sheerness by local fishermen.  They recognised Hales, well-known as a Catholic. The men were taken prisoner, and were treated ‘roughly’.  They were landed on the 12th December, near Oare.  From here they were taken to the Queen’s Arms (12 Market Place), where Hales’s ‘servant’ was recognised as the King by Richard Marsh, owner of the brewery which is now Shepherd Neame. James II was held in custody at Marsh’s house (19 Court Street) while the authorities decided what to do with him.

James’ party were released on the 15th of December and allowed to make their way to France.  It is incredible to think that two monarchs should visit our town, one to celebrate his return to England after being exiled in France, the other heading for France in fear of his life.  It is even more incredible when you think that both of these events took place in properties that are just a few doors away from each other and that both properties still stand today.