Monday 18 June 2012

Upnor Castle & The Dutch Raid of 1667

Sunday was Fathers Day and as a treat I was given free reign to plan a day out for myself and the family. I had various options but in the end I rather cheekily opted for not one but two museums starting with Upnor Castle on the Medway in Kent. Upnor Castle was originally built in 1559 to protect warships moored at Chatham dockyards. The castle saw action against the Dutch fleet in 1667 when the Dutch attacked the Medway and the British fleet anchored within it.

Upnor Castle is today in the care of English Heritage and on a sunny day like yesterday is a lovely place to visit for a picnic by the river.

View from Upnor along the Medway towards the Thames
The landward defences added just a few years before the Dutch raid of 1667
Model depicting the Dutch Raid of 1667 - Upnor engaged the Dutch fleet but couldn't stop them from destroying a large number of British vessels

The castle is in a very good state of preservation and is largely in the same condition to was during the Dutch Raid. The river seems very narrow at this point and its seems inconceivable that Upnor was not able to inflict greater damage on the Dutch as they passed by. However contemporary reports (from the likes of Samuel Pepys) suggest the castle munitions were simply insufficient to the task.

The family of a guard?
Upnor castle facing the Medway
Guns of the Water Bastion are low on the waterline
The Hadley clan at Upnor
A visit to the museum will take an hour or two depending on how long you linger and take in the views. Its possible to wander around most of the building unhindered and the exhibitions and information available is interesting if a little limited. As already stated its a nice place to stop for a picnic if the weather is good and the grounds afford an excellent view of the river.

This was an early visit for us as our main objective of the day was the Royal Engineers Museum just the other side of the river. I'll post pictures and a write-up of that visit tomorrow.


  1. Lee

    Thanks for posting this, you've got some great shots. The diorama has me thinking, but I am strong and can resist.

    Sometimes one gets the feeling that people see it at Rule Britannia from 1588 onwards, but it's worth remembering that it wasn't always the case.



    1. Yes, we didn't always have it our own way. I got the impression from the exhibition that several factors worked in favour of the Dutch raid. They launched it while peace negotiations were under way, so it was a complete surprise. Combined with the fact the raid was incredibly daring and Dutch seamanship was superb this maximised the effect of the surprise. But in addition the British defences were inadequate and resulted in a humiliating defeat for the British Navy.

  2. Its a great little place to visit, been there many a time, I must be due another visit soon??

  3. Replies
    1. They do! Regularly. But I'm a big cuddly Tyrant and I get my way a lot. Privilege of rank!

  4. Hi Lee,

    As a person that hails from the Isle of Sheppey the Dutch Wars have a place in our history as well. IIRC Upnor was the only fort that put up any resistance until the ammo ran out and also that Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey used to have several reminders of the affair (not surprising as the Dutch landed there!)including a couple of pubs named after the debacle.

    Still, let them have their day in the sun as whilst they may have been top dogs then they certainly have not been any great shakes in the fooball this year!

    All the best,


  5. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Medway.

  6. What a wonderfully democratic family you have Lee! Looks like a splendid day out so will certainly be putting it on my to do list.

  7. Great pics of an evidently lovely family outing.
    Thanks for sharing Lee!

  8. Great photos Lee, and looks to be a great day out. I will have to get down there for a visit sometime soon.


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