Chatham's history in the news

The stern carvings from the Royal Charles are back in England in 2012 for the the first time in 345 years.
Find out more at thehistoryblog

Chatham's Historic Dockyard shortlisted for national award.
Find out more at kentonline

The church of Saint John the Divine in Railway Street. Some external views on this Kent History Forum page.
This Grade II* listed church was built in 1820/1821 and eventually closed in 1998 due to maintenance expenses. On 5th October 2012 the Medway Messenger reported that there were plans to reopen St John's as a church with availability for community use.

Chatham Historical Society's past talks and events

10th May 2012 - Thomas Fletcher Waghorn  by Clive Bradburn
Thomas Fletcher Waghorn was a Chatham born man who started life as the son of a butcher, rose through the ranks of the navy, and was eventually responsible for introducing an overland postal service between England and India.
Thomas Waghorn died in 1850 and was buried in Snodland. In 1888 a statue of Waghorn was erected in Chatham.

12th May 2012 - One Day Conference
Some Chatham Historical Society members attended Kent History Federation's 2012 One Day Conference at Headcorn on the 12th of May.

May 2012 - Learn At Work
Three of the society's members took part in the 2012 Learn At Work day at HM Revenue and Customs offices in Maidstone.
These Learn At Work events are held for the benefit of the HMRC staff who are shown crafts, hobbies and other learning opportunities that they might not have considered.

14th June 2012 - Military Medals  by Glen Jones
Mr Jones told us about British military medals and the information that they contain in the detail of their many parts. The wartime exploits of Winston Churchill in India and Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa were used as examples of how the medals tell their stories.
One recipient of the Victoria Cross was Chatham born James Mouat (1815 - 1899).

12th July 2012 - Old Firms of Maidstone  by Andrew Clarke
The illustrated talk was based around five of those firms:
Sharp's the confectioners which started in Week Street and ended in St Peter's Street; Fremlins whose site is now occupied by a shopping arcade named Fremlin Walk; E Mason & Sons of St Faiths Street; and Style & Winch which operated the Medway Brewery in St Peters St.
Last was Clarkes the furnishers which was opened by Andrew Clarke's grandparents in 1929 on the corner of King Street and Church Street. In January 1995 the shop was completely destroyed by fire. The company started trading again within days from their warehouse in Tovil. In January 1997 the company moved into a new store on Sandling Road.

9th August 2012 - Charles Dickens's Childhood in Chatham by Brian Joyce
Brian Joyce, President of the Chatham Historical Society, told us about "Charles Dickens's childhood in Chatham, and the way in which the town influenced his work later on".
The Dickens family arrived in Chatham in 1817 and stayed for about six years, living first in lodgings, then at 2 Ordnance Terrace, and then St Mary's Place, The Brook. The people, buildings and places that the young Charles encountered in Chatham in his formative years provided some of characters and settings for the stories that he wrote and told as an adult.
Peter Ackroyd, the biographer, described Chatham as one of the primary landscapes of Dickens's imagination.

13th September 2012 - Luton from village to suburb by Brian Joyce
Brian Joyce also presented the society's September talk about the development of Luton from the 1840s to the 1900s.
Using information from census records, old maps and newspapers, the village of that time was described. Then and now photographs showed how the things had changed, or how they had survived without much change. Then was a time before railways (so before Luton Arches were built) when Luton had its own separate village life  and hosted medieval style traveling fairs.
In 1852 Luton became a parish, and by 1881 the population had risen to 5000.
From the 1870s to the 1900s the import of cereal made agriculture much less profitable. However, the expansion of Chatham dockyard at that time meant that Luton's farmland could be used to provide housing space for the enlarging dockyard workforce. And with the houses came the shops, pubs and churches that have mostly survived into the 21st century.

11th October 2012 - Suffragettes by Ian Porter
Ian Porter gave an information packed talk on the campaign to secure votes for women.
From its origins in the 1860s, through the times of headline grabbing marches, militancy and incarceration of the 1900s and 1910s, to the achievement of votes for about 8.4 million women over the age of 30 in 1918, and then for all women over the age of 21 in 1928, the campaign was an important part of this country's history.

8th November 2012 - London is Stranger than Fiction by George Wildridge
We were treated to a virtual tour of places in London that have an unusual story to tell, or are not what they seem. Based on the 1950s book of the same name, this talk gave us a number of places to visit, or revisit, and to look upon with with the benefit of some rare knowledge.

14th February 2013 - Brandy, baccy and 100 years of Smuggling by Cyril Baldwin.
Mr Baldwin delivered an illustrated talk which looked at smuggling in south east England, with an emphasis on Kent and Sussex. The ruthless behaviour of some of the smugglers was at odds with the romantic image that this historical activity often projects.

17th February 2013 - Fort Amherst's Heritage Lottery Fund Bid
Several CHS members went to Fort Amherst to take part in the Trust's consultation process regarding their Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
The Trust are looking for funding to clean up and restore parts of the site presently closed to the public. The society's members and representatives of other local bodies were given a guided tour to inspect these areas and then given the opportunity to put forward suggestions to officials of the Trust.

14th March 2013 - Restoration Rochester by Toni Mount

Rochester and the Medway area in the mid 17th century, around the time of the Restoration of the English monarchy, was the theme of this talk.  Charles ll staying at "Restoration House" during his journey from exile, and the Dutch navy raiding the English fleet at anchor in the River Medway, were two of the best known local events from that time.

11th April 2013 - Annual General Meeting

After the business part of the meeting, our president, Brian Joyce, gave a short presentation on the Society's history from its inception in 1950 through to the 1990s.