Unearth the history of The Thames Gateway
A region this steeped in history can offer everything from forts and castles to historic dockyards and cathedrals
The artillery fort at Tilbury on the Thames Estuary has protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century through to World War II. It’s the best example of its type in England, with a complete circuit of moats and bastions still surviving. The nearby Coalhouse Fort is also reached by a new pathway, built as part of the Tilbury Riverside project.
The elegant ruins of Hadleigh Castle occupy an atmospheric and romantic spot overlooking the marshes. The castle was begun in about 1230 and extensively fortified and built on in the 14th century by Edward III, who used it as a royal residence. Recent archaeological digs suggest that the Romans also used the site. It’s open every day and is free to visit.
Lesnes Abbey is a ruined 12th-century Cistercian Abbey that was one of the first to be suppressed in Henry VIII’s reign. The main attraction is the exposed fossil bed where children and adults can dig and discover the past for themselves. Sea shells and even sharks’ teeth can be found. The visitor centre has information on self-guided tours.
Chatham Historic Dockyard
The Historic Dockyard in the heart of Medway is home to one of the world’s most important maritime heritage sites, boasting over 400 years of shipbuilding history. This is the dockyard that built HMS Victory – Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar – and the history and character of the site have been carefully preserved. Set in an 80-acre estate, stunning historic architecture, historic ships and museum galleries, make a unique and rewarding visitor experience that will excite, educate and entertain you – whatever your age!
Founded in 604AD, this is England’s second oldest Cathedral. The current building began during William the Conqueror’s reign, and features a magnificent Romanesque façade, as well as striking examples of Norman architecture. Concerts are performed regularly by the Cathedral’s four choirs and you would never guess that the tranquil cathedral garden, a sanctuary for wildlife, is only yards away from Rochester High Street.