Faversham Brewery:  Britain's oldest at over 300 years

Living History

Faversham Brewery: Britain's oldest at over 300 years

Shepherd Neame claims to be Britain's oldest brewer, beers having been made at its brewery in Faversham, Kent, for over 300 years. Since forming in the 17th century, ownership of the brewery has passed in unbroken succession through five families. It produces some iconic ales, including Spitfire.

Shepherd Neame competes with Three Tuns Brewery in Shropshire in laying claim to being Britain's oldest. Although Three Tuns was licensed in 1642 - 56 years earlier than Shepherd Neame itself was established - evidence shows that brewing has taken place on the Faversham site since at least 1573.

The official start of the current brewery's history began in 1698, when Captain Richard Marsh bought it.

After Marsh's death, the Brewery went to his widow, and then daughter - who sold it to Samuel Shepherd around 1741. Shepherd also acquired a number of public houses, and his son Julius extended this further, on inheriting the business in 1770. The last of the Shepherds actively involved in the company was Henry, who died in 1877. John Mares - who had worked in the Brewery - then stepped forward to further expand the enterprise.

Upon his death in 1864, Percy Neame took custody of it at the age of just 28. Jonathan Neame is currently the fifth generation of his family to run the business.

Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire, which carries the Royal Warrant, Shepherd Neame's diverse portfolio includes a range of ales and lagers, including the Whitstable Bay Collection. The brewery has 320 pubs and hotels - from the Kent coastline to the historic heart of London. Faversham brewery tours are an ever popular visitor attraction.

Further reading

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