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Arthur Percival has died at the age of 81


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Tributes have poured in after the sudden death of one of Faversham's greatest historians, described as a man who "knew everything".

Arthur Percival, 81, who co-founded the Faversham Society more than 50 years ago, died last night (Sunday) at his home in Stone Street.

He spent most of his life dedicated to preserving Faversham's rich history, and his death has sparked an outpouring of grief throughout the town.

Arthur less than a month ago campaigning against large lorries travelling through the town
Arthur less than a month ago campaigning against large lorries travelling through the town

President of the Faversham Society Richard Oldfield said Arthur was a "delightful man" who "knew everything"

He said: "Faversham owes him a great debt.

"He injected the zest into the Faversham Society as a result of which it became an amazing force for good, bringing together more than a thousand residents in enthusiasm for the town.

"He knew everything, wrote beautifully and had a great sense of humour.

"He was a delightful man, thoughtful, self-deprecating, charming.

"He seemed to have unstoppable energy and so even though he was quite an age this is a surprise and a shock, and it really is a big loss to Faversham."

Arthur with former mayor of Faversham and Reverend Tony Oehring at the memorial service to mark the 90th anniversary of the great explosion at Uplees.
Arthur with former mayor of Faversham and Reverend Tony Oehring at the memorial service to mark the 90th anniversary of the great explosion at Uplees.

Members of the Memories of Faversham Facebook group, which Arthur was a regular contributor, have left dozens of messages of condolences, describing him as having an "infectious passion for our town's history" and as "a real local character who everyone knew".

Born in 1933, Arthur was brought up in Wembley and was educated at Wadham College, Oxford.

After National Service, he worked for the old London County Council looking after its prints and drawings and researching.

That's where he met his wife Dorothy, the council's photographic librarian.

Arthur with the former mayor, mayoress and others, unveiling of a plaque in Court Street in 2002
Arthur with the former mayor, mayoress and others, unveiling of a plaque in Court Street in 2002

He worked for the Civic Trust in 1965 to help local amenity societies throughout the country and he worked on the Civic Amenities Act of 1967, a bill which made conservation areas possible.

In 1989, the British Council invited him to give lectures in Japan about conserving their buildings and he ended up advising on conservation in Penang.

His book Understanding our Surroundings, published in 1971, pioneered the concept of urban interpretation in the UK, and led to a visit to New Zealand in 1988.

Arthur with Peter Faulkner and Laurence Young, celebrating the launch of Faversham's new gunpowder trail leaflet in 2003.
Arthur with Peter Faulkner and Laurence Young, celebrating the launch of Faversham's new gunpowder trail leaflet in 2003.

Arthur co-founded the Faversham Society in 1962 and has been honorary editor of the Society's Faversham Papers since 1964.

He taught adult education classes on the history and architecture of the town for the Worker's Educational Association.

Arthur played a big part in campaigns to save the town's health services, prevented developers from ruining the town's architecture, and had a prolonged and passionate love for Faversham.

Arthur in the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre where he spent a lot of his time.
Arthur in the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre where he spent a lot of his time.

In an interview in February 2013 with the Faversham News, Arthur said: "Towns can never be perfect, but Faversham comes pretty close.

"Setting aside its superb heritage, where else today can you find so many essential facilities within easy walking distance of one another.

"Its strong sense of identity must be almost unrivalled, too. All this set in glorious, varied and unspoilt countryside. We’re truly blessed!"

It seems that he felt blessed to live in Faversham but the town was very much blessed to have him too.

Did you know Arthur? Leave your tributes below.

A book of condolences will be available for anyone who would like to contribute their tributes at the Visitor Information Centre in Faversham from tomorrow (Tuesday).

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