The Chequers, Hoo, Shepherd Neame

Explore the area

Hoo St Werburgh

Commonly known as Hoo is a large village and civil parish in the Medway district of Kent, England. It is one of several villages on the Hoo Peninsula to bear the name Hoo, a Saxon word believed to mean "spur of land" or to refer to the "distinct heel-shape" of the ridge of hills.

St Werburgh was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia, and niece of King Æthelred, his brother and successor. She was born between 640 and 650. The first church of Hoo may have been built in the reign of the 8th-century King Æthelbald of Mercia, though presumably a monastery existed nearby at an earlier time. This, together with land at Hoo All Hallows, is likely to have been placed under the rule of the leading Mercian monastery of Medeshamstede, now known as Peterborough. 

Stunning Hoo Peninsula, where the Heron Trail and Saxon Shore Way lead cyclists and walkers through an inspiring landscape of marshes, heronries and RSPB reserves.

St Werburgh Church

A significant, and possibly unique, feature of this ancient parish church are the two Royal hatchments of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. These were later restored and can be viewed in the church. The Reverend Ferdinando Booth of the same family as Archbishop Lawrence Booth was vicar here from 1675 to 1680.

Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham

An intriguing Charles Dickens connection, a Cathedral at its core and top-notch heritage sites, ensure Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham sit high on Kent's must-see list.

This area is where Dickens' life started and ended; the places that pop up in his books still sit among its characterful streets, shops and ancient buildings today. Track down his literary locations on an expert-led tour or a self-guided trail. Highlights include the Six Poor Travellers House and Miss Haversham’s 'home', Restoration House. The Guildhall Museum is alive with interactive Dickens exhibits, while Baggins Book Bazaar, one of England's largest second hand bookshops, is hog heaven for bibliophiles. For streets alive with stalls, carol singers and lamp-lit parades don't miss the atmospheric Dickensian Christmas each December.

Here non-literary history is just as rich. Marinated in heritage, the towering keep of Rochester Castle is one of the tallest in the country; graceful Rochester Cathedral alongside is England's second oldest - built in 604. The dramatic exhibits at The Historic Dockyard Chatham  include  a climb-on-board Victorian Sloop, a WWII destroyer and a Cold War submarine. In Gillingham the compelling Royal Engineers Museum reveals an absorbing heritage, while Fort Amherst is Britain's largest Napoleonic fortress.

Speed fiends can screech round the karting track at Buckmore Park (Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have burnt rubber here too), while Gillingham Football Club provides plenty of reasons to cheer. 

A knot of towns with a powerful history, looped along the tidal reaches of the River Medway proves the perfect no-nonsense mix of ancient and modern.