Port Werburgh is situated on the Hoo Peninsula (a peninsula that separates the estuaries of the rivers Thames and Medway), and is dominated by a line of sand and clay hills, surrounded by an extensive area of marshland. Rich in wildlife and providing many wonderful routes for walking, the peninsula also has many local attractions steeped in history, a few of which are detailed below.
This impressive castle was built in the 16th century and was designed to defend Chatham Dockyard from attack. It failed spectacularly though, when in 1667 the Dutch navy sailed up the river and destroyed much of the anchored British fleet. A frequent visitor to Upnor was the artist JMW Turner, who painted the castle in 1831. Another well know marine artist, W. Wyllie, lived nearby.
St Mary’s Island
Throughout much of the 19th century, huge prison hulks were moored along the river, including just off St Mary’s Island. Many of the prisoners who died whilst on board were later buried there.
The London Stones
These two obelisks mark the southern extent of the City of London’s fisherman’s rights to fish on the northern side of the river.
The privately-owned Cooling Castle is actually a fortified manor house built in 1380 and would have originally stood much closer to the river. The gatehouse remains in an impressively good condition and can be easily viewed from the road.
The church of St. James’ dates mainly from the 13th century and has an interesting vestry covered in shells. Its churchyard is home to a group of lozenged - shaped gravestones, which are believed to have inspired the opening scenes of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.
Established in 1955, Northward Hill is the RSPB's oldest nature reserve and is only one of three woodlands on the peninsula. Its abundance of mature oak trees make it an ideal territory for grey herons and it is actually the largest heronry in England. The woodland is also renowned for its springtime display of bluebells.
For more information on local attractions and events please visit:
Medway Visitor Information Centre
95 High Street, Rochester ME1 1LX
Tel: 01634 843 666
Images and information courtesy of Medway Council and the Medway Swale Estuary Partnership www.msep.org.uk