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Meet Medway's Monarchs


Meet Medway's Monarchs

Upnor_Castle_with gardens.jpg

Meet Medway's Monarchs


Meet Medway's Monarchs


Meet Medway's Monarchs

Meet Medway's Monarchs

Mary Sewell
18th April 2023

In the early days, there were visits of royalties to Medway; some were marked by clashes of arms and bloodshed, while others were merely passing through peacefully or taking a sneaky preview of their future bride to be!

As part of our Coronation celebrations, we have lined-up three Monarchs for you to meet at our heritage sites:

Meet Queen Elizabeth I at Upnor Castle on Tuesday 30 May

Meet Queen Elizabeth I at Upnor Castle:
Tuesday, 30 May

I served my country from 1533 until 1603, and I was the last monarch of the House of Tudor. My father, King Henry VIII, may have been disappointed in not having a son to take on the reign, but I proved him wrong as a Queen could be as strong as a King!

Queen Elizabeth I - Visit to Rochester in 1573   
Queen Elizabeth I came to Rochester in 1573, staying at the Crown Inn (still standing at the bridge end of Rochester High Street). She also stayed at the home of Richard Watts, Member of Parliament for Rochester and the founder of the Watts Charity that still runs today. Watts’ former home is still known as ‘Satis House’ in tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s comment when asked how she had enjoyed her stay.

During Queen Elizabeth's reign, known as the Golden Age, there was a period of tension with Spain and other European powers, and she ordered the construction of an artillery fort at Upnor in 1559 to protect her warships at anchor at Chatham Dockyard.

At our Meet the Monarch event on Tuesday, 30 May, you can find out more about the Queen's royal connections with Upnor Castle and why she built this artillery fortress. For admission times and prices, click here.

Meet James I at Eastgate House:
Wednesday, 31 May


I'm the first Stuart monarch to rule, taking the crown from Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 and reigning until 1625. The only son of Mary Queen of Scots and the first monarch to rule over Scotland, England, and Ireland, and a Protestant. I wanted to unite the three kingdoms and strengthen my rule, but in Ireland I faced opposition and rebellion from the Catholic, Irish-speaking population. My reign led to the gun powder plot when Guy Fawkes attempted to assassinate me in parliament!

James I visited Rochester three times during his reign. The first in 1604, when he paid a visit to his fleet in the river, second in 1606 and final visit in 1613.

James I - Visit to Eastgate House in 1606   

James I made his second visit to the area in 1606 with his wife Anne of Denmark, his brother-in-law Christian IV of Denmark, and Henry the Prince of Wales. On this visit, the royal party went to Chatham to inspect the navy and visited Sir Peter Buck who was a senior officer at the Royal Dockyard. The King of Denmark remained at Eastgate House to lodge overnight. The visit was documented by Henry Roberts as "England's farewell to Christian IV"Click here to read it.

At our Meet the Monarch event on Wednesday, 31 May, you can find out more about the King's visit to Eastgate House. For admission times and prices, click here.

Meet James I at Eastgate House on Wednesday, 31 May.

Meet King John at Rochester Castle on Thursday, 1 June.

Meet King John at Rochester Castle:
Thursday, 1 June


I succeeded my brother, Richard I and took the crown of England in 1199, reigning until 1216. My ruling was during difficult times, with wars with France, a shortage of money, and conflicts with powerful English barons. In 1215, I signed the Magna Carta, a peace treaty and one of the most famous documents in the world, at Runnymead in Surrey and then endured a seven-week siege at Rochester Castle.

King John - Siege of Rochester Castle in 1215
After successfully taking Rochester Bridge and capturing the castle bailey, the royal army used five siege engines to bombard the rebels inside the keep with stones.

As the siege engines failed to break through the thick stone walls of the keep, a tunnel was constructed beneath the south-east tower. Using the fat of 40 pigs too fat to eat, the timber props were ignited to bring down the tower.  However, it was starvation that finally forced the rebels to surrender.

The rebuilt round tower can still be seen today; however, the other three towers are square!

At our Meet the Monarch event on Thursday, 1 June, you can find out more about the King's siege on Rochester Castle and why the rebuilt tower is round. For admission times and prices, click here.


Royal Crown Children's Crafts - Tuesday 30 May to Friday 2 June

If you are feeling creative and fancy making your own crown, there will be a chance to do this at the Guildhall Museum's Royal Crowns Children's Crafts. Wear your crown when meeting our Medway Monarchs!

Guildhall Museum, Rochester. Free admission to museum and workshop.

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