Medway

Explore by Bus

Group OrganiserVal Murphy
VenueDifferent Locations
Meeting Days3rd Monday of the month (am)
Group Vacancies? Yes

As we do not have any meetings in January and February, because of the winter weather, our first meeting for 2019 was on Wednesday 20th March when we went Maidstone Museum. Again we had to change the day as most museums are closed on Mondays. We had an enjoyable time, particularly in the vintage clothes area, reminiscing the clothes we wore in the sixties as teenagers. I also distributed the programme for the year.

In April we finished our historical walk in Maidstone, which we started last year. We started at the Brenchley Gardens, where we looked at the life-sized statue of a bomb disposal expert to commemorate the service personnel who lost their lives in Afghanistan. Next we found No. 31/33 Earl Street which were owned by Andrew Boughton a former Mayor of Maidstone who was clerk to the High Court and signed the death warrant of King Charles I in 1649. When the monarchy was restored in 1660 he was charged with regicide and was forced to flee the country and spent the rest of his life in Geneva. We then looked at Fremlins Walk, (once the site of the Fremlins Brewery), followed by the Royal Star Arcade, (originally the site of the Royal Star once Maidstone's premiere hotel ), Market Buildings and the Corn Exchange, and Week Street which lies along the line of a Roman Road linking Rochester with the iron working working areas on the weald and Port Lympe. We finished at the top of Gabriels Hill, where there was a battle in the English War in June 1648.

In May we had two meetings for the first we walked across the pedestian path of the M2 Bridge. Where there is a spectacular views across the Medway Valley, and from where we were standing superb views towards Rochester including the Cathedral and Castle. We finished with lunch at Waters Meet Restaurant in the Medway Valley Leisure Park, Strood. The second meeting was a train trip to Faversham, where we did a historical walk. Starting at the Guildhall, then Court Street, where Catholic King James was held for four days in 1688 while trying to flee to France following the landing of the Protestant William of Orange, his son-in-law and nephew to take the throne. Abbey Street which was originally a highway laid out in the twelth century as a grand approach to the Abbey, but “fell from grace” early in the twentieth century. At no. 80 Abbey Street, (also called Arden House), in 1551 Thomas Arden was murdered. He like many others made a fortune out of the dissolution of the monasteries, his murder was instigated by his wife Alice and her lover. We finished our walk with St. Mary of Charity Church, where the remains of King Stephen are allegedly burried. We ended with a nice lunch in a local pub/restraurant.

In June we went on a visit to Kent Life, Sandling, Maidstone. Unfortunately the bus broke down on the Rochester Maidstone Road, and we had to wait an hour until the next bus turned up. When we arrived we were all ready for lunch so we did that first. Then we looked at the various exhibits, which included a Victorian Farmhouse, World War II cottages and a traditional Village Hall to name but a few. There was also a farmyard, paddocks and fields with horses, sheep, pigs, twelve owls and meerkats.

July we also had two meetings. The first was to Tunbridge Wells in particular The Pantiles. As it was as long journey, we had lunch first in a nice cafe, which was opposite a very upmarket jewellers which had the Royal Warrant, and security guards standing outside, we watched to see if anyone interesting went in, but unfortunately not. We then continued on down to the Pantiles, which is a very nice area with cafes and bars and a lovely area to stoll and sit in. Apparently before the Pantiles was discovered there was nothing at Tunbridge Wells, so the first visitors either had to camp out or travel from Tonbridge, including King Charles I's wife Queen Henrietia six weeks after the birth of her eldest son. Our second visit in July was a train trip to Folkestone. Where we followed part of the Folkestone Artworks Walk, “The Waterfront and Harbour”, including The Folkestone Mermaid, The Listening Ears, The Holiday Home and Tracy Emin's Baby Things, which she did to draw attention to the number of teenage mothers in that area. We had lunch at a nice cafe on the front, and an ice cream before catching our train home.

August saw our long awaited historical walk in Gravesend. Led by an offical Badge holder. Which I booked up several months before. It started at the Pocahontas Church, St. Georges and went along the river to the oldest pub in Gravesend The Three Daws, (where we had lunch afterwards), the Fort Gardens with the statue of Major General Charles Gordon, who did a lot of charitable work during his stay in Gravesend. We also saw the outside of the Clarendon Royal Hotel, which has been on television in the “Four in the Bed” programme, as well as having royal connections, the Milton Chantry which is Gravesend's oldest building and dates from early 14th century. The walk was very good and we thoroughly recommend it. It was only supposed to last an hour, but was nearer to two hours.

In September we first went to Aylesford Priory. It was the principal house of the Carmelite religious order from 1242 until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538 when it passed into private hands and became a family home, and remained so until it came up for sale in 1949, when the Carmelites were able to buy it back. Therefore a lot of the religious artifacts date from that time. Our second meeting in September was a train trip to Canterbury, where we first visited the Roman Museum, we then had lunch in a nice cafe, and ended our visit with a walk through Westgate Gardens before we caught our train back to Chatham.

For our October meeting we went to Eastgate House in Rochester, which is famous for its association with Dickens. It was in the “Pickwick Papers”, and also the Nuns House in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It had several uses over the years, as a private family home, as a Victorian boarding school for girls, young mens hostel and a temperance restaurant. In 1903 it was converted into a municipal library and museum.

For our November meeting we went to Bluewater Shopping Centre. We split up when we arrived, and had a lovely time window shopping. Kept getting lost in the giant Marks & Spencers, and lost some more of our members there, but met them again in the cafe and had some lunch there, before we caught the bus home.

For our December meeting I have booked a table for twelve for our Christmas Meal at the Five Bells Pub/Restaurant, Hoo. Which all members usually enjoy. Our first meeting next year will be on Monday 16th March. When hopefully the worst of the winter will be over, and it gives me time to plan next years programme, do any reccs. necessary and check on the internet as far as possible if my plans are feasible.

Please contact Val Murphy for further information.

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