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Upper Upnor High Street
Upnor shown within Kent
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Lower Upnor and Upper Upnor are two small villages in Medway, Kent, England. They are in the parish of Frindsbury Extra on the western bank of the River Medway. Today the two villages are mainly residential and a centre for small craft moored on the river, but Upnor Castle 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, the meaning changed to "upon the bank" (Middle English: "uppan ore") and by 1374 it was "Upnore".
Lower Upnor faces Upnor Reach. It was a single row of houses, separated from the river by the roadway and the hard. Located here is the Arethusa training centre, run by the Shaftesbury Homes. In 1849, HMS Arethusa was the name of the training ship moored near the shore. The society had moored a training ship here for over 105 years. The first was the Chichester, but after then all the ships were called Arethusa. The last Arethusa was the Peking, one of the R.F Laeisz's Flying P-Liner four-masted barques, built in 1911, and acquired after 1918 as war reparations. She was sold in 1975 to the South Street Seaport Museum in New York. In recent times extra housing has been built behind this street, exploiting the land exposed by quarrying the steep hillside that leads to Hoo Common.
Lower Upnor is also the home of two yacht/sailing clubs. Medway Yacht Club, which was founded in 1880, purchased land in Lower Upnor in 1948, now comprising approximately 14 acres (57,000 m2). Upnor Sailing Club was formed in the 1962 and moved into its present Club House (formed from renovating three existing traditional riverfront cottages) in the 1980s.
The Royal School of Military Engineering maintains an equipment storage and training facility in Lower Upnor, which supports the Riverine Operations section in Upper Upnor and the main school across the river in Brompton.
Upper Upnor comprises a village cobbled high street leading down to Upnor Castle. It has many houses displaying Kentish weatherboarding, some are Grade II listed.  It also has some terraced streets formerly used by the MOD and also Castle Street. It is on Chatham Reach directly opposite St Mary's Creek.
The Royal Engineers still have a presence in Upper Upnor; the Royal School of Military Engineering (Riverine Operations section) maintains classrooms, workshops and a hard in Upnor for the training of Royal Engineers Assault Boat Operators and Watermanship Safety Officers, who continue to operate craft on operations all over the world. The section operates Mk 1 and 3 Rigid Raiders, and Combat Support Boats, as well as teaching use of the Mk 6 Assault Boat. The area is also used for other training purposes by the RSME including practice and test Bomb Disposal tasks by the Defence EOD School, until its move to Bicester.
Though Upnor Castle was only operational for about 100 years (1559–1667), it was retained as a magazine and ammunition store until the end of the First World War.
The London Stones are in Lower Upnor on the shoreline. They mark the limit of the charter rights of London fishermen. The older stone is dated 1204.
Like other parts of Frindsbury, 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 three 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 ecclesiastical parish of Upnor split from Frindsbury in 1884 and was reabsorbed in 1955. The parish church of St Philip and St James (1884) was designed by Ewan Christian. It is virtually unaltered. Francis Drake's father, was ordained deacon and made vicar of the Church upon the River Medway.
The Military Railway
The army used this area to train a railway engineering force. They built a standard gauge railway from Chattenden to Upnor in 1872–73. This was abandoned before 1881 and a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) 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 Chattenden, the Lodge Hill Ammunition Depot and the standard gauge at Sharnal Street, 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). The new road is named Upchat Road.
- Glover, Judith (1976,1982,1992). The Place Names of Kent. Meresborough Books. ISBN 0-905270-61-4. Check date values in:
- Matthews M.A., Brian (1971). A History of Strood Rural District. Strood Rural District Council.
- Hughes, Rebecca (29 May 2013). "Figurehead of the war ship Arethusa in Lower Upnor has been restored after a wasp attack". kentonline.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Roger Revell Yacht and Rowing Club Buttons, p. 43, at Google Books
- "Upnor Sailing club". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "12–18, High Street, Frindsbury Extra". www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "30–32, High Street, Frindsbury Extra". www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- Barnard, Derek (post 1994). Merrily to Frendsbury-A History of the Parish of Frindsbury. Private Pub. City of Rochester Society. Check date values in:
- Southey, Robert. (1897). English Seamen — Howard Clifford Hawkins Drake Cavendish, Methuen and Co. 36 Essex Street WC London
- Saunders MA FSA FRHist, A.D. (1967). Upnor Castle Kent. English Heritage. ISBN 1-85074-039-9.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Upnor.|
- Information about the castle
- The castle as part the Chatham defences
- The History of Shaftesbury Homes and the Arethusa, giving details of the purchase of the Pekin
- The New Museum, who bought the Arethusa in 1975, and restored her.
- More images of both London Stones
- Frindsbury Extra Parish Council