Celebrate Medway’s heritage this Christmas


Medway Council is inviting residents to celebrate the festive season at Medway’s Libraries and heritage attractions this Christmas.

Find out when Christmas trees first started appearing in homes and why people had yule logs in medieval winters at a celebration of Christmas past at Eastgate House. The Elizabethan house will take visitors back in time to discover how Christmas traditions have changed throughout the centuries from Wednesday, 1 December to Sunday, 9 January between 10am and 5pm. Normal admission fees apply. Eastgate House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

This December Santa’s elves will take over the Guildhall Museum in Rochester and create lots of mischief. Medway’s youngest residents are invited to take part in a picture trail to see what they’ve been up to inside the museum. Two of the elves have stayed behind and children can enter a competition to name them for the chance to win free entry to one of Medway’s castles or houses. The elf trail costs £1 per child.

Residents can also take part in a mince pie mayhem trail at Rochester Castle which will reveal stories about what Christmas was like in a medieval castle from Wednesday, 1 December until Friday, 31 December between 10am and 4pm. The trail costs £1 per child, normal admission fees apply. Rochester Castle is open Tuesday to Sunday every week, from 10am until 4pm.

Unique and special gifts for family, friends and those special to us can be found at our Heritage sites and attractions. Shops are open at the Guildhall Museum, Rochester Castle and Eastgate House, where you can buy gifts for the home, toys for children, jewellery and much more.

During the Rochester Christmas Market and Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival, on Saturday, 4 and Sunday, 5 December, visitors can learn more about the area’s rich history on guided walks through the historic town. Expert lead 45 to 90-minute walks from Rochester History Guided Tours and the City of Rochester Society will run from November until December. Find out more on City of Rochester’s website: city-of-rochester.org.uk/guided-tours/.

To help residents get into the festive spirit this year, Chatham Winter Walkabouts will see world-renowned street artists and performers spreading festive cheer once a week at the Pentagon Shopping Centre, Chatham. Catch a festive street performance and be inspired every Sunday this winter, from Saturday, 27 November at 11.30am-1pm and 2.30pm.

Dee O’Rourke, Assistant Director of Culture and Community at Medway Council, said: “Medway is steeped in history and Christmas is the perfect time to discover and appreciate what we have on our doorstep. There is an exciting range of activities on offer for residents, and visitors, of all ages to enjoy and I would encourage you to find out more. Our fantastic Christmas events at our libraries and heritage sites support our ambition to become a Child-Friendly City, putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do.”

Celebrating Christmas at Medway’s country parks

Residents are encouraged to celebrate Christmas at Medway’s country parks this winter. Capstone Farm Country Park and Riverside Country Park have a variety of festive celebrations on offer this December. Residents can also volunteer for conservation task days, which is a great opportunity to learn about country park management whilst lending a helping hand. Volunteer days will run from November to January at both Capstone and Riverside parks, please call 01634 337432, or visit the webpage to find out more: medway.gov.uk/events.

Capstone Farm Country Park

This December residents of all ages can make a selection of Christmas crafts, from cards to decorations, including a letter to Santa, ready for the big day. Enjoy Capstone’s Crafty Christmas from 10am until 12pm and 1pm until 3pm on Saturday, 11 December at Capstone Farm Country Park. £5 per child. (Children must be accompanied by an adult).

Get in the festive spirit by making your very own traditional Christmas Wreath at Medway’s country parks this winter. Get creative and make your own wreath out of different materials on Tuesday, 21 December 10am-12noon for £8 per person, suitable for 12 year-olds and above.

Residents are also being given the chance to make rustic Christmas decorations, including centre pieces for the table or a tree decoration, at Capstone this December. The whole family can create a rustic home decoration on Wednesday, 22 December, 10am-12noon and 1-3pm for £5 per person. Call 01634 338191 to book, or for more information.

Spend some time with the park rangers this winter and make bird feeders and bug homes to hang in your garden, helping the wildlife that lives around you. Learn how to make simple bird feeders on Saturday, 8 January, 10am-12noon at £5 per child. Call 01634 338191 to book, or for more information.

Riverside Country Park

If you miss the Capstone Farm Country Park wreath making, or fancy making another, you can get crafty and make your own Christmas wreath out of natural materials to take home, on Sunday, 12 December, 10am-12noon and 1-3pm.

Enjoy a winter wonderland on your doorstep with Riverside Country Parks’ Winter Wonderland, running from Monday, 20 to Thursday, 23 December. Time slots are available to book by ringing 01634 337432, at £8 per child. An extra treat is available for those that have been good this year, Santa will be available to meet at the wonderland (suitable for five to eight-year-olds, with each child able to receive a small gift).

Take advantage of the winter season and grab the opportunity to learn more about the identifiable features of trees in winter, along with other interesting facts. Enjoy Winter Tree ID (adults only) on Wednesday, 26 January, 10am-12noon at £4 per person.

Library events

Celebrate Christmas at your local library this year with workshops, lectures and crafts for residents of all ages.

On Wednesday, 15 December at Wigmore Library, a lecture for adults will be held by Suzanne Corbie. Join the discussion about Kent Yuletide Traditions from 8pm until 9pm for £4.50.

Get into the Christmas spirit by learning how to craft a snowman out of a recycled plastic milk bottle at Rainham Library. Young people aged 11 to 16 are invited to get crafty at the library on Tuesday, 21 December from 11am-12noon. To find out more and to book, phone 01634 337799 or visit your local Medway library.

Medway Archives Centre

On Thursday, 16 December, from 12-2pm, a book sale will be held at Medway’s Archive Centre. Items which do not fall within our collecting policy will be offered for sale. This is also a chance to buy new books, many of which are hard to get hold of.

There will also be a chance to view again the ‘Interpreting the Brook Theatre’ exhibition, a celebratory exhibition of photographs and archive material, curated by Wendy Daws and Mark Barnes, which was originally on display at the Brook Theatre in 2017.

Later in the day at the Medway Archive Centre, author, linguist and historian, Amanda J. Thomas will be giving two fascinating talks, from 2-4pm. ‘Diseases in Victorian Times’ will be hosted at 2pm and ‘From Pagan Merriment to Puritan Misery. The banning of Christmas in the English Civil Wars’ at 3pm. The afternoon of talks is £3, with refreshments will be available between the two talks.