Event Reports for 2023

Wednesday, 8th February - Chagall: The Dark and the Light by John Blackford
This was a fascinating talk. John brought Chagall's work to life with his own insightful interpretations and used the context of the artist's life as the basis for his theories. The story of the windows in Tudeley Church was moving and beautiful. It was great to see so many people turn out on a cold February evening for this and I'm sure that they found it as interesting as I did. Helen Neaves

Saturday 11th March - Society Quiz Night.

In support of Faversham Food Bank. Many thanks to all those who supported the Quiz Night. It was an extremely enjoyable and very successful event and we raised the magnificent sum of £1,808 for the Faversham Food Bank.

Sunday 2nd April - "Calving Day" - Kingsdown Farm.

Sixty Members, friends and families joined us to see and hear about Neil Anderson’s principles of ethical farming and his beautiful cows and calves. Not forgetting his Aberdeen Angus bull - "Stormsie". He also introduced us to some of Duncan Anderson’s lambs that were all too ready to suck a thumb/finger/knuckle if offered. This invitation from Neil and Jenny is one of the best attended events in our calendar for good reason.

Wednesday, 19th April - Ottor and the Graveney boat.

This talk was due to be delivered by Gulliver Immink but sadly he was unwell. James Rubenstein, Chairman of Faversham Creek Trust, and Alan Thorne, a local boat builder, stepped in and delivered an entertaining talk at late notice.
About 45 members attended the talk about the most nationally significant archaeological find made in the area in the last 60 years!! Sadly, it does not receive the attention it merits so let’s put the record straight.

In September 1970 a digger preparing a drainage ditch on Graveney marshes came across some ancient looking timbers. The Sondes estate, owners of the land, called in the National Maritime Museum and the significance of the find was recognised, with experts being brought in from Denmark to advise on recovery and preservation of the vessel. Local children were involved in the excavations! Some 10m of the boat were found during the excavation with large timbers forming the frames and keel, and clinker construction of the hull. Originally the vessel would have been 14m x 3.5m, and held together with wooden nails and iron rivets. It was clearly a seagoing vessel capable of carrying up to 7 tonnes of cargo, though there were few volunteers in the audience willing to make such a trip! She was double ended, so able to go astern as well as she went forward, just like the earlier Viking Longships. Sadly, the upper hull and mast were missing but old town seals and illustrated manuscripts show what she probably looked like and that she would have had a mast and square sail. There must have been oars as well. She was steered by a board attached to one side of the boat with leather thongs. The remains of the boat were lying on brush wood by a wharf where she had probably been dragged up for repair. Radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology give a construction date of 895AD. The wharf dates from 20 years later so she had a life in service of at least 20 years, a testament to her construction, thought to have been on the South Coast of England. On board were found remnants of hops and quern stones from the Rhineland. Hops were not used in British ales at that time but were used in Germany, so it is quite possible she was used in trade between Kentish Saxons and their German neighbours.

Alan spoke a bit about the similarity of her construction with methods still used in traditional boat building to this day, and now being employed in the local projects to build and race a number of St Ayle’s town rowing skiffs. These are being built in clinker by volunteers, including school children and apprentices. One has been finished in Faversham and one at Conyer Marina already.

Inspired by the Graveney boat, in 1988, Edwin Gifford built a half scale replica. Experience of sailing this suggested she would have needed a crew of 4, and I suspect they would have needed to do a fair bit of bailing in rough weather! In 2015 she was donated to the Creek Trust and, until Covid, was sailed at town events and trailed around many local schools to show the children. She is having some restoration but it is hoped this programme can be restarted and that we may be able to get her to a Society or village event in the future.

Wednesday 17th May - "Apothecary and the doctrine of Signatures".

Plants that heal, plants that kill and plants that do nothing. An evening with David Lamberton, bringing the fascinating and often gruesome world of medieval medical practice to life. This was a highly entertaining and very educational trot through our gardens and countryside to delve into the 'dangerous to know', the truly beneficial, and the confidence trickster plants that have no medicinal value (yet). What many found surprising is just how many plants in our gardens we really ought not to taste! Just enjoy their visual contribution! The doctrine of signatures refers to parts of plants that look like parts of our bodies - so 16th Century apothecaries promoted them for certain ailments.

Saturday 10th June - "An Afternoon With Lucy Kitt".

Welcoming Lucy Kitt, a modern folk singer/songwriter who has appeared at Glastonbury, The Cambridge Folk Festival and Lounge on the Farm as well as several appearances at the Faversham Hop Festival, and following the publication of her 1st Album "Stand By" (2019).
This event celebrated the Society’s 20th Anniversary. There was a cafe-style seating. With dreadful traffic delays, the order-of-play reversed by first having a picnic and then listening to the wonderful music shared with us by Lucy Kitt. The audience enjoyed sparkiling wine and a piece of anniversary cake. If you are unfamiliar with Lucy Kitt, you can get a taster through viewing her promotional video on YouTube.

Bank Holiday Traditional Fete , 28th August - The Society took part in running a highly successful Book Stall to support the Fete.

Wednesday 13th September - Blean Bison Talk illustrated talk by Vicki Breakell

Vicki told us about the project to introduce Bison into Blean Woods which is a collaboration between Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood with funding from the Postcode Lottery. The aim of the project is to build biodiversity in Blean Woods by introducing  large grazing animals into woodland. The bison will make clearings in the woodland by creating pathways through the undergrowth and opening up areas by eating bark from trees this will kill some, particularly non-natives such as pine, create glades and build a more diverse habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife. The project has been started after studying other wilding projects at Knepp and 2 Dutch reserves.
In order to release the bison, Blean woods has been double fenced in 4 different blocks totalling 200ha (500 acres) these areas will be managed with Bison, Iron age pigs and Exmoor ponies. A further 220 ha is to be managed with Longhorn cattle, (instead of Bison) pigs, and ponies. These area will carefully monitored to study the effect on the biodiversity.
The European Bison was never present in the UK but is considered to be a hybrid of the Aurochs and the Steppe Bison, now extinct cattle species that would have roamed Britain and Europe. The introduction started with an 18 year old matriarch, followed a little while later by 2 x 5 year old females from Ireland, one of which surprised everyone by calving soon after it arrived at Blean. The bull arrived from Germany a while later after long drawn out import restrictions. The herd had to be drawn from several sources to ensure a mix of genes as at one time there were only 54 animals left in the world with only 12 of these breeding.
After the presentation  we were shown a short video of the calf playing in its Blean surroundings. The presentation was well attended by LKS members and hopefully they will be inspired to go and visit the Bison at Wildwood.

Wednesday 4th October: "The History of Shepherd Neame - Britain's Oldest Brewery". A talk by archivist, historian and author John Owen.

Saturday 28th October: A Fungus Foray in Toll Wood. Led by Martin Newcombe, who led a fungus foray in the nearby traditional orchard last year. Society Members arrived in heaviy pouring rain that must have discouraged some. We managed to walk about half way into the wood and ran out time as Martin found so many fungi in evidence.

Wednesday 22nd November: 7.30pm: The 20th AGM marks a landmark for the Society, the Chairman included a call for new Members to join the Committee as we look forward to the next 20 years and new ideas for future events. Once the business of the AGM was over we heard a very engrossing presentation - "Reintroducing the Red-Billed Chough to Kent". Presented by Suzanne Kynaston (of the Wildwood Trust).


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