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Battle of Medway - Tocht Naar Chatham

350th Commemoration of The Battle of Medway

From June 2017



From June 2017, The Historic Dockyard Chatham will commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway with a spectacular series of exhibitions and activities.

This iconic anniversary commemorates one of England’s greatest naval disasters when the River Medway was engulfed in flames. In June 1667 the Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway and caught the English unprepared.  This daring invasion brought the Second
Anglo-Dutch War to an end.  Under Lieutenant Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, the Dutch captured the fort at Sheerness before entering the River Medway to attack the English fleet at Chatham. They broke through the defensive chain and, despite fire from
Upnor Castle, towed away the Royal Charles, England’s flagship and burned a number of ships. To prevent their capture and block the channel the Royal Navy sank some of its largest ships.

Although the dockyard was spared by the arrival of troops and artillery, the attack was a humiliating defeat for the English. In The Netherlands, the action is also known as the Battle of Chatham, the highpoint of the Dutch Golden Age.

What was The Battle of Medway?

Calendar of Events

June 2017

As well as our exciting temporary exhibition – Breaking the Chain – Medway’s wider commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway will be two weeks of exciting and unique events.  Here is a taste of what you can expect to see:

Official Launch - 8th June 2017

The official launch to the commemorations and the opening of The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s new exhibition – Breaking the Chain.

Public visits to HNLMS Holland ship tour

On 10 June 2017, HNLMS HOLLAND will open to the public for free tours – The visit will be strictly for ticket holders only and the will last approximately 90 minutes; tickets are free but limited numbers are available.

This is being operated by the Royal Navy & Royal Marines – click the link for details.  We are not taking any bookings for this.


Fencing Exhibition Match - 17th June

Join us during the day to see this spectacular fencing match between the two friendly rivals – Tenterden Swords Fencing Club & Pallos Fencing Club

For more information please click here 

Medway Print Festival - 2nd to 27th June 2017

An art trail and exhibition spread across the Medway Visitor Information Centre, Guildhall Museum and Rochester Cathedral.

Medway Libraries - 7th - 17th June 2017

Look out for an exciting programme of events and lectures in our community hubs and libraries.

Medway Sports Festival - 17th June 2017

A varied sporting events programme culminating in a spectacular Amsterdam to Medway Bike Ride.

Dickens Festival - 9th to 11th June 2017

Celebrating the life and work of Charles Dickens. Enjoy street entertainment, parades, readings, competitions and much more.

The Dutch are Coming! - 10th and 11th June 2017

Step back in time to 1667 at Upnor Castle with living history events and activities telling the story of the Dutch Raid.

Chatham Maritime - 10th June 2017

A variety of activities and entertainment taking place around Dutch and British warships.

Rochester Cathedral - 17th June 2017

Experience a fascinating guided tour around England’s second oldest cathedral.

Medway in Flames - 17th June 2017

Chatham Maritime comes alive with a programme of family entertainment including a fun fair, and food, drink and trade stalls.  A River Pageant will sail past The Historic Dockyard Chatham and Upnor Castle providing a unique opportunity for boat owners, visitors and river users to show off their wonderful vessels.  Water activities will take place in Basin 2, including dragon boat racing, rowing displays, fly boarding and jet ski displays. Live English and Dutch folk music, walkabout entertainment and clog dancing performances will run throughout the evening.

Other reasons to visit Medway

As well as visiting The Historic Dockyard Chatham, the most complete Dockyard of the Age of Sail in the world, there are many reasons to plan a visit to Medway to tell the wider story of the Battle of Medway.

Upnor Castle

This attractive turreted fortress, built to protect Queen Elizabeth’s warships when anchored in the Medway, is set in a picturesque village, backed by rolling wooded hills on the banks of the River Medway. Its importance matched the growth of the dockyard in Chatham. The castle played an important, but ultimately ineffective role in June 1667, when Admiral De Ruyter sailed his ships up the Medway to attack the dockyard.

To commemorate the Battle of Medway, Upnor Castle will be home to a new and exciting visual display, putting the events of 1667 into context. This interpretation will allow visitors to learn about the daring Dutch masterplan that led to a devastating naval defeat for England, and the resulting programme of ship-building that led to a golden age of British maritime supremacy.

Guildhall Museum

Built in 1687, the Guildhall is one of the finest 17th century civic buildings in Kent. Colourful and informative displays record more than 250,000 years of Medway history. Visitors can see what life was like during the Napoleonic period by walking through a reconstruction of a Medway prison hulk and learn about the terrible living conditions the prisoners endured. They can learn about the life and works of Charles Dickens, one of England’s greatest novelists, in the Dickens’ Discovery Rooms.

The Guildhall Museum will present a special exhibition of their collection of historic Dutch prints and maps that are part of this story. They will be displayed alongside the plans of the fortifications built by the English to defend Sheerness and Chatham in the wake of this unprecedented naval disaster. Acclaimed artist Kevin Clarkson has painted a series of meticulously researched images of the Battle, and these will give a vivid recreation of the dramatic events of the day. The exhibition will run from 6 May to 12 November 2017.

Jetstream Tours

River Trips and Water Transport

Jetstream Tours operates regular boat trips from Rochester Pier, but during the Battle of Medway festival will offer an additional pier stop for Upnor Castle.  This is a great way to get around Medway and a chance to discover the river’s strategic fortifications. All cruises offer an informative commentary with a spectacular opportunity to see Upnor Castle and the Historic Dockyard Chatham from the water.  Hop-on hop-off opportunities with local river taxis will also be available along with Jetstream’s high speed Jetboat services from Sun Pier.

Map of Chatham Dockyard