On a voyage of discover y, Tom B aker took a trip to The Historic Dockyard Chatham to preview a fascinating histor y of British maritime endeavours
On June 11, 1667, infamous words foretelling ruination were penned in Samuel Pepys’ diary : “And, the truth is, I do fear so much that the whole kingdom is undone.” Three days earlier, at the height of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, a small armada of Dutch ships crossed the English channel. Unopposed, they sailed into the R iver Medway, beginning a week-long spree of destruction.
The R aid on Medway saw Dutch ships sow complete chaos upon Chatham. Three of the Royal Navy’s largest capital ships were anchored at Chatham and had been sunk , alongside ten ships of the line destroyed by fireships and 16 more scuttled, with the additional loss of England’s flagship, HMS Royal Charles, towed to the Netherlands.
The damage to English prestige was immense. Today, the raid remains one of the most disastrous defeats inflicted upon an English or British fleet. Chatham Dockyard, one of the countr y’s premier naval bases, had been ravaged and its future looked uncer tain.