Brief History of Upnor Castle
Contemporary Aacount of the Attack
Holmes' Bonfire & Fireships
1667 Battle of Medway Introduction
Dutch Raid in the Medway 1667
Upnor Castle Chronology
Peter Pett Chatham Naval Commissioner
300 Year Old Raid Celebration
Upnor Castle Officer's List
England Licks Its Wounds
A Picturesque Castle on the Banks of the River Medway Upnor Castle is in the tiny village of Upnor on the Hoo pensinsular which is across the river and Nort-West from Rochester and Chatham. The easiest way to get there is to leave the M2 at junction 1 or 2, continue to Strood then instead of crossing the bridge to Rochester follow the signs leading north to Hoo.Upnor is situated opposite the Royal Dockyards at Chatham.
All the floors are intact and almost all the originall castle is accessible.It was built to defend the Dockyards against the chance of Dutch warships sailing up the Medway Estuary This beautifully situated Tudor fort was built on the banks of the River Medway in 1559.Queen Elizabeth I instructed her Privy Council to arrange the construction of a bulwark at Upnor. Thus six acres of land on Medway's riverbanks were acquired from Mr Thomas Devinisshe of Frindsbury. From this purchase, work on a fort to protect Chatham Naval Dockyard begun.Throughout its history it has had close ties with the Navy. The original fort was not so extensive as the present one. It consisted of an angled water bastion. This projection in front of the fort enabled cannons to defend the river. Behind this stood a rectanagular building on the riverbank.In 1559, just over 10 years since the defeat of the Spanish Armada the fort was enlarged and a moat and gatehouse added on the landward side. Stone from the demolition of Rochester Castle up-river were used in its construction.
|Brief History of Upnor Castle|
1667 saw an audacious raid by the Dutch first up the River Thames where they reached as far as Gravesend, and then up the River Medway to strike at Chatham. The fort played an important role during this disastrous Dutch raid on the ships lying off Chatham Dockyard. .Despite having a defensive chain across the river at Hoo Ness and receiving tremendous battery fire from Upnor, as well other gun batteries to impede their progress, the Dutch inflicted grave humiliation upon the British fleet. By the end of the day, to the Royal Navy's embrassment they had towed away the Royal Navy's flagship the Royal Charles !
Upnor Castle was credited with a heroic effort displayed by the men of the fort but generally the alarm was raised concerning the inadeqacy of the coastal defences. The Dockyard's defence became a top priority of the King's. Subsequent ly building of forts at Gillingham and Cockham Wood were instigated. Enormous sums of money were spent improving fortifications around the coast. On the Medway new gun batteries were placed further down the river. Upnor Castle too was upgraded but due to these various different defensive improvements around Chatham, Upnor's role was reduced. In 1668 it became a magazine for ordnance stores and later became distinguished as holding more gunpowder than any other store in the country, including the Tower of London.For many years it supplied gunpowder and stores to the shores anchored in the Medway.
1891 the War Office transferred Upnor Castle and its depot to the Admiralty authority. Gradually it lost any significant military importance, slowly evolving more and more as a museum rather than a military establishment. After the World War II 1945 it was officially recognised as a museum. From 1961 the Castle has been maintained as a national monument.In a quiet setting along the Medway, combined with the tranquill ambience of Upnor Village, evidence of its use both as a fort and a magazine can be seen today and is truly worth a visit.
will returyou to A VBRIEF CHRONOLOGICAL SKETCH OF UPNOR CASTLE
|1547||During King VIII's reign his ships were ' In ordinary' laying off the River Medway, not ' In commission'. Thus the King ordered the purchasing of a storehouse for their use just off 'Gillingham Water'. This payment for a storehouse in Gillingham precipitated further maritime acquisitions from which Chatham Dockyard eventually evolved|
|1559||Queen Elizabeth and her Privy Council ordered a bulwark to be built at Upnor. Mr Thomas Devinisshe of Frindsbury received £25 for ' 6 acres or thereabouts. ' Sir Richard Lean drew up plans for the building. Richard Watts of Rochester was in charge of supplies and instigated as the works Paymaster.|
|1561||Elizabeth I writes to her Lord Admiral demanding information on when work will be completed.|
|1564||Main structure of castle had been erected|
|1567||By this date 23 ( almost the whole fleet ) of the Queen Elizabeth's ships were moored below Rochester Bridge. Work to the castle was completed.|
|1579||William Bourne, prolific writer on navigational gunnery was master gunner at the castle.|
|1585||War breaks out with Spain. A chain is stretched across the River Medway from Upnor Castle as defence against an attack on the dockyard.|
|1588||Year of the Spanish Armada. Maintenance of the chain costs £80.The garrison inside the castle consisted of : 1 Master Gunner & 6 Gunners|
|1596||Lord Admiral Howard reports castle inadequately manned. He believes it should be either well garrisoned or pulled down. Suggests 50 trained men should be employed. A month later it consisted of 80 men being 8d (3p) a day.|
|1599||Sir John Leveson's estimate for new work was accepted. Work on the Gatehouse begun including a drawbridge to span a dry ditch dug around and enclosing the castle. The present thick doorway is not the original replacing an earlier one in the 19th C. work on the South & North Towers were begun.|
|1600||Gregory remodels castle. The curtain walls are raised and the wooden palisade, facing the River Medway is finished.|
|1601||The Nort & South Towers were completed.|
|1623||18 guns of various sizes and 34 unserviceable longbows are included in the castle's inventory. The castle's personnel consists of : 1 Captain, 1 Master gunner,7 Gunners, 20 Soldiers|
|1625||Rebuilding of the wall enclosing the courtyard. Around it now you can see the foundations of the lean to buildings put up later against the Courtyard wall for extra storage space|
|1628||The castle was converted to a magazine.|
|1642||During the Civil War, Castle surrenders to Parliament forces who make it a prison for Royal Officers.|
|1648||Castle seized by Royalists only to be recaptured by the Parliamentarians.|
|1650||Parliamentary leader Lord Fairfax's earlier orders of repairs to be carried out are completed.|
|1653||Castle damaged by fire. Visible evidence of this visible, scorched red stones, located on the 1st floor.|
|1667||2nd Dutch War. Dutch raid the Medway - the Royal Charles is carried off - Upnor Castle does the best that it can to save Chatham Dockyard. Fortunately the Dutch do not ' force home ' their attack. Royal Warrant issued later orders the castle to be ' a Fort and Place of Strength .'|
|1668||Becomes ' a place of Stores and Magazine .'|
|1698||By now, Upnor Castle looks very much like it does today.|
|1691||Survey of the ordnance shows that Upnor has become the largest armoury store in the country. An inventory shows that it holds|
|1689||Rumours that governor had harboured papists|
|1695||Flat lead conversion of the powder rooms in the main building.|
|1718||Barracks were built for the accommodation of the garrison. It is one of England's first purpose built barracks. Soldiers are required to guard the gunpowder magazine. Guard duties were less demanding than normal so soldier with physical disabilities were used.|
|1725||Although not the original fireplace it is known that the present one dates from at least this date. From this date too Upnor has completed its transformation from a defensive fort to a pure magazine only.|
|1746||Soldiers occupying the barracks were described as ' a sett of drunken wretches . '|
|1760||Robert Heath, a governor of the castle, wrote the important navigational book, ' Astoronimica Accurata ' at Upnor.|
|1809||The clock and bell probably date from this year.|
|1827||Further alterations and repairs were made. After this date the castle ceased to be a magazine but was converted to Ordnance Laboratory.|
|1840||Discontinued holding any gunpowder or explosives.|
|1860||Review of the garrison was made.|
|1856||Board of Ordnance water tanks placed in the castle.|
|1872||Military railway was laid to Chattenden Barracks.|
|1891||Upnor castle and the depot were transferred from War Office to the Admiralty.|
|1941||Damaged by 2 bombs falling in Upnor House gardens.|
|1945||Recognized as a museum.|
|1961||Maintained as a national museum.|
1665-1667 : The War With Holland
1664 saw Parliament pressing Charles II to make war with the Dutch, although his subjects were already waging it, unofficially, beyond home waters. Conflict raged between competing Dutch and English ships sharing the same waters, for trade that was the life-blood of both nations. The East and West Indies, the Mediterranean, the African coasts and the eastern seaboard of North America - all these were the war theatres, even if war had not been officially declared. In the autumn, news of a great English victory in Guinea arrived with the capture of Cape Verde. And soon he was writing to his sister in Holland about a more important conquest: "You will have heard of our taking of New Amsterdam, which lies just by New England. 'Tis a place of great importance to trade. It did belong to England heretofore, but the Dutch by degrees drove our people out and built a very good town, but we have got the better of it, and 'ts now called New York." Charles after this success was proud and confident in his Navy, which consisted of a fleet of 109 large and 30 smaller vessels carrying 21,000 men and 4,200 guns.
Secure in his nations tradition naval supremacy Charles went officially to war with Holland in 1665. Little did he know this war would bring a series of humiliations to the English Crown and Armed Forces. The first proper engagement was the Battle of Lowestoft on 13th June 1665, for Charles it began well. The Dutch, under Admiral Opdam, were resoundingly defeated by the English under James, the Duke of York (later King James II), on board his flagship the Royal Charles. Sixteen Dutch ships were sunk, nine captured and over 2,000 men, including the Dutch Admiral, were killed. But the position deteriorated rapidly. The daring Dutch admiral de Ruyter (not present at Lowestoft but to feature so magnificently during the Medway Raid ) captured a rich merchant fleet in northern waters.
The winter of 1664/65 brought the French into the war as Dutch allies. Charles had spent much time and energy trying to persuade the French not to honour their alliance treaty with Holland, but in January Louis XIV had finally acknowledged his commitment. Actually he afforded little help. The French fleet stayed discreetly distant from the English fleet throughout the remainder of the conflict. The fleet which put to sea in the spring of 1666 was divided into two, the main body under the Duke of Albermarle, the rest (patrolling the French coast) under Prince Rupert.
|1665-1667 : The War With Holland||The Four Days War|
|Battle of Medway||England Licks Its Wounds !|
|Day By Day Account||Aftermath|
|Sequence of Events||Admiral de Ruyter|
300 Year Celelebration of the Raid
Over 30 years ago the residents of Upper Upnor in Kent took part and witnessed the tercentenary of the Dutch Raid in the River Medway
In June 1967 a ' River Medway Dutch Week ' was held. It would not have been the same without a Dutch contingent, who were duly invited and attended this colourful and historical celebration. The Dutch Navy sent over three vessels, while the Royal Navy was represented by the destroyer Carysfort which berthed amicably alongside the Dutch Holland.
The Dutch ambassador sent a message to the people of the Medway Towns, congratulating them on their efforts to celebrate an event which after all was a humilating defeat for the Kentish folk.Racing and social events were arranged in a week in which exhibitions and displays, sailing races, and dances were held. A group of Dutch sailors, dressed in seventeenth-century costume, marched to Queenborough Guildhall, where the Dutch flag was hoisted by the captain of the Holland. The Dutch frigate Fret sailed up the Medway in a spectacular gala from Sheerness, escorted by yachts and other small crafts.
At Admiralty Pier, Gillingham, where the Fret anchored and where in the 17th century the chain that was supposed to protect Chatham Dockyard from any invading fleet was anchored, Mr. F. de Ruyter de Wildt, a descendant of Admiral de Ruyter, stepped ashore, to be welcomed by Captain Peter Petts, a descendant of Commissioner Peter Pett.At Upnor Castle the band of the Royal Netherlands Marines played before a three thousand crowd. On other days a Dutch band led a naval march through the streets of Chatham, and Gillingham. During an evening event Anglo-Dutch relations were further cemented with a ceremony held at Queenborough. This former naval stronghold was also twinned with Brielle. On the eve of the conclusion to the week a band of the Royal Marines beat retreat near Chatham Town Hall, and in the evening the Dutch flag was lowered from Queenborough Guildhall. These were the major events of the week and with a few remaining events on Sunday, the River Medway Dutch Week came to an end.
|UPNOR CASTLE TIMELINE||UPNOR CASTLE OFFICERS BOARD|
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