Medway has attracted Normans, pilgrims and kings and queens over the centuries. It has guided pilgrims to its shrines and inspired some of the greatest men in history.
It was in Chatham that Charles Dickens spent most of his childhood and near Rochester for the final years of his life when he returned as an established author in 1856 and based many of his novels on the area. The life, work and times of the author can be discovered at the Guildhall Museum's Dickens Discovery Rooms in Rochester.
Eastgate House (located along Rochester High Street), was also an inspiration to Charles Dickens. It was once the family home of Sir Peter Buck, a senior officer at the Royal Tudor Dockyard, the house has also been a Victorian boarding school, a hostel and a museum.
Historic Rochester was also known by many monarchs over the centuries. King John came to capture Rochester Castle from the rebels in 1215; Henry VIII met his fourth wife Anne of Cleves in the cloisters of the cathedral; Charles II stayed here on the eve of his restoration to the throne in 1660 and a storm interrupted the journey of Princess Victoria in 1836 so she stayed overnight at The Bull Hotel until it passed (now known as The Royal Victoria & Bull Hotel).
Famous seafarers Hawkins, Drake, Nelson and Gillingham-born Will Adams would have known the area well. Nelson's flagship HMS Victory was built at Royal Dockyard, now a major visitor attraction The Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Will Adams, founder of the Japanese Navy and still remembered there today some four hundred years later as 'The Blue-eyed Samurai' is celebrated locally at an annual festival held in Gillingham.
The Dutch Raid on the River Medway was documented in graphic detail in the diaries of Samuel Pepys in 1667. Visitors can relive the Dutch attack in an exciting audio-visual experience at Upnor Castle.
The brave and courageous men of war were officers with the corps of the Royal Engineers at Gillingham. General Gordon was one of the most famous 19th century military leaders and Lord Kitchener's bronze statue, which previously stood in Khartoum, was erected in Dock Road - the road between Chatham and Brompton - in 1960. Stories of the bravery and heroism of "the Sappers" can be explored at The Royal Engineers Museum.
Those with a taste for history and research will be interested to visit Medway's Archive and Local Studies Centre.