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Lower Upnor and Upper Upnor are two small villages in Medway, Kentmarker, Englandmarker. They are in the parish of Frindsbury Extramarker on the western bank of the River Medway. Today it is mainly residential and a centre for small craft moored in the river, but Upnor Castlemarker is a preserved monument, part of the river defences from the sixteenth century.


Upnor meant "at the bank" being "æt þæm ōre" in Old English and "atten ore" in Middle English and "atte Nore" in 1292. However then the meaning changed to "Upon the bank" Middle English "uppan ore" and by 1374 it was "Upnore".

A skeleton of a Straight-tusked Elephant was excavated in 1911, during the construction of Royal Engineer's Upnor Hard.

Upper Upnor

Upper Upnor comprises a village street leading to Upnor Castlemarker, including many houses which are finished in Kentish weatherboarding; as well as some terraced streets formerly used by the MOD and also Castle Street. It is on Chatham Reach directly opposite St Mary's Creek.

Though Upnor Castlemarker only was effective for about 100 years (1559-1667), it was retained as a magazine and ammunition store until the end of the First World War. The Royal Engineers still have a presence at Lower Upnor.

Lower Upnor

Lower Upnor faces Upnor Reach. It was a single row of housing separated from the river by the roadway, and the hard. It here that one finds the Arethusa training centre run by the Shaftesbury Homes. In living memory the Arethusa was also the name to the training ship moored parallel to the shore. The society had moored a training ship here for over 105 years. The first was the Chichester, but after than all the ships have been called Arethusa. The Last Arethusa was the Pekingmarker, one of the R.F Laeisz's Flying P-Liner 4 masted barques built in 1911, and acquired after 1918 as war reparations. She was sold in 1975 to the South Street Seaportmarker Museum in New York.In recent times extra housing has been built behind this street, exploiting the land exposed by quarrying the steep the hillside that leads to Hoo Common.

Lower Upnor is also the home of two Yacht / Sailing Clubs:- Medway Yacht Club (founded 1880) who purchased land in Lower Upnor in 1948, now comprising of approx 14 acres. Upnor Sailing Club was formed in the last 1960's and they moved into their present Club House (formed from renovating three existing traditional riverfront cottages) is the 1980's.

London Stones

The Older London Stone standing in front of the fence of the Arethusa Venture Centre.
The London Stones are in Lower Upnor on the shoreline. They mark the limit of the charter rights of Londonmarker fishermen. The older stone is dated 1204.


Like other parts of Frindsburymarker, chalk has been extracted, high quality moulding sand has been taken from a pit near the Church, and William Burgess Little built 25 five barges at his yard between 1843 and 1871. The first was the Sarah Little and the last called W.B.Little Finish. James Little built 3 barges here in 1891,1893 and 1895. A Potter's Kiln can be seen on an 1830 watercolour by Susan Twopeny, now in Rochester Guildhall Museum.

The Church

The ecclesiastical parish of Upnor split from Frindsburymarker in 1884 and was reabsorbed in 1955. The parish church of St Philip and St James (1884)was designed by Ewan Christian RIBA (1814-1895). It is virtually unaltered.

The Military Railway

The army used this area to train a railway engineering force. They built a standard gauge railway from Chattendenmarker to Upnor 1872-3. It was abandoned before 1881, and a gauge line was built in 1885 or by the 8th(Railway) Company R.E. in 1898 One branch went to Lower Upnor, and the other to the camp by Tower Hill. This line was used to supply armaments from Chattendenmarker, the Lodge Hill Ammunition Depot and the standard gauge at Sharnal Streetmarker, to the Warships and the Upnor Magazine. The service closed on 19 May 1961.

In 1965-1967, the Royal Engineers converted the route from Lower Upnor to Chattenden into a road including building a new bridge over Four Elms Hill (the main road through Chattenden village). With great originality they named it Upchat Road.

See also


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