Battle of Medway

Celebrating 350 year anniversary of the Battle of Medway

In June 2017 Medway will commemorate the 350th, anniversary of the Battle of Medway with a spectacular river event and a series of exhibitions and activities. Medway is a diverse and exciting destination, steeped in history and rich military and maritime heritage. Medway takes its name from the magnificent river that flows through it and comprises of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood.

Rochester has a unique identity with its iconic Norman castle and cathedral, historic buildings and museums, as well as connections with Charles Dickens. Chatham’s maritime history includes The Historic Dockyard Chatham, an award winning attraction. The dockyard’s defences include Upnor Castle, Fort Amherst, the Great Lines Heritage Park and the Royal Engineers Museum, amongst others. Many of these sites were all involved in, or are a result of, the Battle of Medway.


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 River 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. Despite fire from Upnor Castle they broke through the defensive chain and burned a number of ships before towing away England’s flagship. To prevent their capture, around 30 Royal Navy ships were sunk by the English themselves.

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.

The celebration

Medway in Flames Medway. This historic naval battle will be re-told with a breath-taking Medway in Flames display, taking place on and around the River Medway in June 2017

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

The dockyard will host an international exhibition, running from June until September, exploring new research into the Dutch origins of the battle. There will also be Dutch themed learning and family activities, talks and entertainment.

The Guildhall Museum

The Guildhall Museum in Rochester will present a special showing contemporary Dutch prints of the battle and of the men who fought in it. 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.

Events programme

There is a series of events planned over a two week period with over 50,000 people expected to attend.  The Battle of Medway leaflet (pdf 1,980KB) provides details on the 350th commemorations and outline of key events, but for further details visit Medway Council's website.

Battle of Medway Image @ Kevin Clarkson

Battle of Medway website Plan your Visit  River Medway