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Medway festivals programme launched

by Marco Cillario Fri 31 March 2017, 10:17 am

A programme of heritage festivals is due to take place in Medway in spring and summer 2017, including a fortnight of displays to mark 350 years since the battle of Medway.

An artist's impression of Medway in Flames, the final act of the initiative marking 350 years since the Battle of Medway (8-17 June)

On 22 April, the English Festival will see Riverside Country Park in Lower Rainham turned into three zoned areas. These include the Iconic England zone, with a performance about St George and the Dragon; the Village Square – a new English high street, land train and bandstand entertainment, and the Countryside Experience, featuring farm animals and a real ale bar.

The three-day Sweeps Festival, from 29 April to 1 May in Rochester, will feature music, dancing and entertainment celebrating the time of the year when chimney sweeps could leave the soot behind and have some fun.

Also in Rochester, the Dickens Festival, from 9-11 June, will honour one of England’s greatest writers, who lived in Medway for almost 20 years, a place which inspired his works. 

The 350th anniversary of The Battle of Medway will be remembered between 8 and 17 June. In the winter of 1666-67, the Dutch military launched a raid on the British fleet in Chatham Dockyard, resulting in one of the worst defeats in the Royal Navy’s history. King Charles II was forced to enter peace negotiations with The Netherlands, and within a few weeks the second Anglo-Dutch War (begun in 1665) came to an end.

This history will be marked through a series of displays and exhibitions. A Battle of Medway gallery will be hosted at Upnor Castle – which was at the epicentre of the battle – supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

An exhibition at the Historic Dockyard will explore the battle through “contemporary accounts” and items loaned from Dutch and UK national museums. The Command of the Oceans galleries, also at the dockyard, will highlight the major investment in new ships and dockyard facilities, which came about as a result of the battle. 

The final act of the initiative will be Medway in Flames on 17 June, illustrating events of the battle through water screens, digital projection, performances, special effects and fireworks.

On 12 and 13 August, visitors to Rochester Castle will be able to experience life in medieval times at the Medieval Siege Society living history camp during Medieval Merriment.

More details on the programme are available here.

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