A Rough Plan of the Mouth of the River Medway
Medium: Ink on parchment
This is a rough sketch of the Mouth of the Medway. It is not dated. The fortification of Sheppy and the entrance to the river Medway was not part of the 1539 defence program, prompted by the fear of an invasion from the combined forces of France and Spain after Francis I of France, and Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain signed a peace treaty in 1538.
However, it was during Henry VIII’s reign the Medway was first used as a naval anchorage. By 1547 the approaches to the area were defended by ‘block houses’ in addition to the medieval castle of Queenborough.
Since the accession of the Protestant Elizabeth I in 1558 England’s relationship with Spain had deteriorated to the extent that Philip II wished to depose Elizabeth in favour of the Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, who had agreed to disinherit her protestant son (later James VI of Scotland and I of England) in favour of Philip. The fear that Spanish warships might raid from the Flemish ports in an attempt to destroy ships anchored in the river meant that the defence of the Medway was again under consideration in 1574.