A rich history and diverse culture
Situated in Kent in the South East of England, Medway is a fascinating and diverse destination that is steeped in history and a rich military and maritime heritage. Medway takes its name from the magnificent River Medway that for thousands of years has linked the historic towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood. Find out more about Medway's historic towns and historic places to visit.
Over centuries, the River Medway has played a major role in the heritage and development of the area, signs of which can still be seen and appreciated today at sites like the Historic Dockyard Chatham.
This June, we will commemorate one of the most significant chapters in the history of the River Medway, the Battle of Medway (also known as 'The Dutch Raid' or 'Tocht naar Chatham' in Holland). The battle – which saw the river set aflame – proved to be a massive loss for the English, but heralded the start of great investment in the Royal Navy, which led to it becoming the most powerful in the world, for generations to come.
Reasons to visit
If you are planning your visit to or within the UK this summer and are not sure where to go, then a visit to Medway is just the ticket you need.
With a thriving economy and as the largest urban area in the south east outside London, Medway is a proud and vibrant place. There’s so much to do and we cater for many interests.
Today, the River Medway provides a gateway to an exciting array of water activities. It is home to many marinas and yacht clubs as well as interesting historic vessels and river trips. The wider estuary provides the perfect habitat for thousands of breeding and migrating birds and wildlife.
Getting out on the water is a unique way to experience what makes the Medway estuary one of Britain’s most important maritime heritage destinations.
Along the river there is a fascinating array of yacht clubs, marinas and boatyards offering a wide range of mooring facilities. Public pier access is available at Rochester and Sun Pier, Chatham where a variety of river trips operate from.
If you are keen on history and heritage, there is a wealth of historical attractions and sites waiting to be discovered. Historic Rochester, with its castle and cathedral, Upnor Castle, The Royal Engineers Museum, and the Historic Dockyard Chatham, to name just a few. Find out about the local historic places to visit.
Each year Medway hosts more than 30 days of free events celebrating the abundant history and the diverse present day culture of the area. These range from bustling street festivals and open air concerts, to theatre performances and international sporting events. Every year there are 4 million tourist day visits to Medway.
Getting around is easy too. We have excellent transport links and are situated just 35 miles from London. The location provides quick access to the Kent coast, and we have some of the most beautiful countryside on our doorstep. A quick hop on an open top bus is a great way to explore the area and to enjoy the sites and views.
The area is surrounded by a stunning natural environment and a number of enviable green spaces. Enjoying the great outdoors is a pleasure as you will discover, thanks to a wide variety of parks, wetlands and green spaces to enjoy. There are more than 75 miles of cycle routes, including an 18 mile circular of the Heron Trail cycle route that passes through the RSPCB nature reserves on the Hoo Peninsula. Also, seven Green Flag parks and walking trails at the magnificent Capstone and Riverside Country Parks and stunning coastal paths, means you will be spoilt for choice during your visit.
Probably the most famous Medway resident was one of English literature’s greatest writers – the author Charles Dickens. His association with Medway area began when the Dickens family moved to a small house in Chatham when he was a child, and he returned to live in Rochester as a successful author.
No trip to Medway would be complete without a visit to Dickens Country and each year, more than 120,000 visitors flock to area in June and December when Medway pays tribute to his legacy with two Victorian themed Dickens festivals. The town of Rochester is steeped in Dickensian history, and on a visit, you may recognise some of the many heritage buildings made famous in his works, which still stand today. These include the Guildhall Museum, Restoration House, Eastgate House and Gardens, Six Poor Travellers House.
Find out more about Dickens in Medway.
To discover more about his association with Medway visit the Guildhall Museum in Rochester where a dedicated exhibition and informative film is on permanent display. A self-guided walking trail with map is available from the Medway Visitor Information Centre. Or you can join a guided walking tour with members of The City of Rochester Society or Footsteps in Time.
Medway is harnessing its rich heritage to build a dynamic and prosperous future and this year is a great time to visit. We hope to see you soon.