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Guildhall Museum

The Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent. Its staircase and main hall have magnificent plaster ceilings, given in 1695 by Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, who was the Member of Parliament for the city of Rochester at the time.

Battle of Medway - 350th AnniversaryCapture of the Royal Charles

The battle took place in June 1667 during the Second Dutch War where the Dutch fleet sailed up the River Medway to attack the English fleet lying at Chatham.

The Guildhall Museum will present a special showing of contemporary Dutch prints of the battle and of the men who fought in it. They will be displayed alongside the plans of the fortifications built by the English to defend Sheerness and Chatham in the wake of this unprecedented naval disaster.

  • Exhibition runs until Sunday 12 November 2017
  • Free entry

Family Activities at the Guildhall MuseumBattle of Medway

  • Battle of Medway Trail. Saturday 22 July to Sunday 3 September 10am to 5pm (closed Mondays). Take part in our trail around the museum based on the Battle of Medway exhibition for a chance to win a small prize. 80p per child, free entry to the museum.

Battle of Medway family crafts:

Family craft activities based around our 'Journey to Chatham' exhibition, featuring Dutch newspaper reports of the battle and the construction plans for the new fort at Sheerness. Children must be accompanied by an adult. All activities are 10.30am to 3.30pm 80p per child, free entry to the museum.

  • Make a soldier Tue 25 July, Thu 27 July, Fri 28 July
  • Make a Royal Charles Ship Tue 1 Aug, Thu 3 Aug and Fri 4 Aug
  • Make a Mini Masterpiece Tue 8 Aug, Thu 10 Aug and Fri 11 Aug
  • Build your own Fort Tue 15 Aug, Thu 17 Aug and Fri 18 Aug
  • Make your own Headlines Tue 22 Aug, Thu 24 Aug and Fri 25 Aug
  • Decorate a Cannonball Tue 29 Aug, Thu 31 Aug and Fri 1 Sept

Workshop with Wendy Daws

Join our drop-in artist-led session with artist Wendy Daws; crafts will be based around our ‘Journey to Chatham’ exhibition, part of the Battle of Medway commemorations. No need to book. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Wednesdays on 26 July and 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 August
  • £2 per child. Free entry to the museum.

Friends of the Guildhall MuseumsFriends of the Guildhall Museums

Friends of the Guildhall Museums, supporting the work of the Guildhall Museum in Rochester and the Old Brook Pumping station in Chatham.

Members enjoy:

  • Invitations to exhibitions previews and launch events
  • Access to specially organised events, workshops and excursions
  • A free welcome tour
  • Regular e-bulletins keeping you up-to-date with our new activities

Download a membership form (pdf 272KB), pop it in the post or hand to a member of staff at the Guildhall Museum.

Quizzes and leaflets

The museum

Photo of the Guildhall Museum in Rochester

The museum was founded in 1897, in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It was first set up in Eastgate House further along the High Street and was moved into the Guildhall in 1979.

The wide-ranging collections are housed in two separate buildings, the Guildhall (1687) and the River Medway Conservancy Board Building (1909).

The museum's wheelchair-accessible entrance gallery contains a small shop selling souvenirs items, a reception desk, and an attractive introductory exhibition highlighting the role that River Medway has played in shaping the environmental and human history of Medway. Text accompanying this exhibition is reproduced in English, French and Dutch.

All visitors (including those with mobility difficulties, and wheelchair users) can access electronic media in the gallery which enables them to view short films highlighting key features of the museum displays.

Highlights of the displays include:

  • a full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk
  • archaeological objects that visitors can touch
  • civic silver and regalia from Medway's past
  • the most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker's tools in the world
  • a Victorian drawing room and kitchen
  • a large selection of paintings and prints of the area
  • the Dickens Discovery Room
  • the Rochester "Riverside Eye" camera interactive.

Free quizzes for children and families are always available. Borrow a clipboard and pencil and follow a themed trail around the museum.


Partners and supporters of the Guildhall Museum