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Nature10th May 2021

The Dockyard’s Top 5 Nature Spots

Garden view of Commissioners House at The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent

Have you spent time in the beautiful remembrance garden in Commissioner’s Garden? Or spotted our new Japanese cherry blossom trees next to the tennis lawn?

If you fancy discovering a different part of the Dockyard, read our latest blog to find our top 5 nature spots where you can take time to breathe or relax during your busy day.

1. Commissioner’s Garden

Garden view of Commissioners House at The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent

Created in the 1640s, Commissioner’s Garden was originally intended for the private enjoyment of the Dockyard’s resident Commissioner – the most senior official in the Dockyard. The Garden has undergone many changes in the last three centuries, it is still a beautiful and tranquil space but is now available for all visitors of the dockyard to enjoy.

Can you find the icehouse or remembrance garden?

2. The Dockyard Apiary

Aware of the general decline of species of bees in Kent due to pesticides, diseases and habitat loss, the Trust committed to a long-term project to support the local ecosystem and improve biodiversity on the heritage site.

Installed two years ago, and supported by Medway Beekeepers Association, the Dockyard apiary is set in a quiet and secluded spot, complete with a freshwater pond to provide drinking water and a coolant for the hives during hot spells, including plenty of strategically placed stones to allow the bees safe and easy access, without risk of falling in.

Can you spot any Bees doing the ‘waggle dance’?

3. The Mast Pond

In 1696 and 1702 two new Mast Ponds were built to enable fir logs used for mast-making to be seasoned under water. Both remain today – the first as an archaeological site – the second, the North Mast Pond as the Historic Dockyard’s earliest surviving visible historic structure.

Can you spot the tunnel from were the South Mat Pond used to be up to Brunel’s Sawmill?

4. The Tennis Courts

Behind the Clock Tower is a beautiful Tennis Court lawn that was used by the Officers that lived and worked at the Dockyard.

Can you see our new Sakura Cherry Tree’s, kindly donated to us in Partnership with the Japan Society and the nursery Frank P Matthews?

The Pavilion has also undergone an extensive renovation over the last months and will soon be back looking as good as new.

5. Harbourmaster’s Office

Assistant Queen’s Harbour Master’s Office, Chatham Dockyard (built in 1770). The Queen’s (or King’s) Harbour Master is a public official with the duty of keeping the port secure for both military and civilian shipping.

In 1865, the whole of the tidal part of the river from Allington Lock to Sheerness was designated as a Dockyard Port under the control of the King or Queen Harbourmaster who was in charge of all movement within the river between these points.

Can you spot Queen Anne’s Stairs?

The Queen’s Stairs, a set of stone steps, where there is a main entrance point to the Dockyard leading from the river in the Age of Sail. At the top of the landing stage steps is an early 19th or 18th century wrought iron arch and lantern holder, next to the Assistant Harbourmaster’s Office. These are the stairs ’VIP’s’ would have used when visiting the Dockyard, walking up from the River directly in to the Commissioner’s House.

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