With the area’s long involvement in British Maritime history, Medway is not short of places and landmarks to visit for discovery and recreation; one of which is Brompton Barracks. Brompton Barracks is the best preserved Georgian barracks in the UK. Located in Chatham, it was initially built to house the soldiers’ positioned at the dockyard defences including Fort Amherst and Chatham defensive ditches. The barracks is home to the Royal School of Military Engineering which started here in 1812 and this year, is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It hosts a museum and archive, and is a treasure of history, culture and art.
With the kind initiative of Rotarian Past President, retired Royal Engineer, John Nowers, a group of Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Chatham and friends of the club appreciated a remarkable tour of the premises and enjoyed John’s explanation and stories about the barracks where he has last served as the director of the museum. The visiting group admired the beautiful architecture including the North and South blocks by James Wyatt built in 1804-6, Royal Engineers building by Sir Fredrick Omanney, and other buildings within the premises some of which were added or extended at a later stage. The monuments with their distinguished designs registered historical events, dates and names involving the Crimean war, the Boer war and the two world wars, as John explained. The Crimea arch was built in 1856 by Sir Matthew Digby Wyat. In 1902 the Boer war arch was built by Ingres Bell. The Obelisk was built in 1920 to commemorate the Royal Engineers martyrs of the First World War and then also used for the same purpose after the Second World War. Facing The Royal Engineers Institution, a 15 ton bronze sculpture of General Gordon on a camel commemorating his service in Khartoum was made in 1890 and is a marvellous piece of art.
In the officers’ mess, a wide collection of oil paintings is in its own right an art gallery and a visual record of historical events, together with the collection of silver memorabilia which is also on display.
The barracks is an important witness of British history, and it is recommended to visit the museum to know more.