Making History Come to Life

Chatham Dockyard around the time of the Napoleonic Wars

One of the early memories of my schooldays is of the history lessons I had, although the subject was my favourite I was always being told off for not paying attention and being a bit of a smart-ass by answering any question with a lengthy monologue way beyond what the question needed. Not surprising really when you consider that outside of school I made history come to life, experiencing it to the full. That musky smell that you can almost taste and sends a shiver running through your whole body when visiting a historical building. The visions your imagination produces when standing in the footsteps of all the famous and infamous people who had walked the creaking floorboards centuries before; all that and much, much more excited me in a way that those text books I had to endure and all those lists of Kings and Queens I had to learn off by heart could ever do.

History was all around me, the Medway Towns was and is full of it; the River Medway itself along with its Sea Forts, Chatham Royal Dockyard, Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle, Rochester Castle & Cathedral were all virtually on my doorstep. Then there were the family days out to places like Dover, Reculver, Hever, Leeds and Walmer castles; Chartwell, Knole and Penshurst Place to mention just a few. All had intriguing stories to tell and to a young boy they told them load and clear. No wonder the schoolroom couldn’t hold my attention for more than a few moments at a time.

Of course I haven’t yet mentioned the landscapes of our countryside available for free to each and everyone of us. They hold a wealth of hidden history just below the surface. Those man-made hills we take for granted when out for a walk deserve more than a cursory glance, the earthworks of hillforts and sacred burial mounds are there holding secrets to be discovered right beneath our feet.

Oldbury Hillfort
Oldbury Hillfort Rampart

Wow, what history classroom our wonderful island is. I suspect things have changed  a great deal since I was a lad in school and I appreciate that there are so many wonderful history documentary series and dramas on television these days but just as when connection with Nature there nothing like getting physical with History and filling your senses, mind and imagination with the real thing.

So click away from this blog right now and get on with planning your next trip into the living past. Go on …. just do it!