The Isle of Sheppey is a small island located off the Thames, 50 miles from London, directly opposite Southend and is probably the county’s best-kept secret. The island has a fixed-link high-rise Sheppey Crossing with commanding views over marshes and stunning Elmley Nature Reserve.
The Isle of Sheppey is nine miles long, five miles wide and has a population of nearly 40,000 which doubles during the Summer months with tourists wanting to visit the local Blue Flag beaches. But Sheppey is also steeped in history, lets take a look at a few things you probably didn't know:
Shurland Hall, located in the small village of Eastchurch, is 16th century gatehouse constructed by Sir Thomas Cheyney. In October 1532, while on their way to Calais to meet King Francis, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed for 3 days at the Shurland Hall.
During the rebuilding of the Royal Dockyard and defences at Sheerness, the Ravelin was constructed in 1816. It consisted of musketry wall and was used to store gun carriages, at the time a birdasge crossed the moat with access onto the Ravelin. In 1996, Sheppey College was built on the site of the Ravelin, resulting in a portion of the remaining musket wall being demolished.
Dockyard workers and their family's in Sheerness lived in the Estuary and built cabins to live in around the storehouses and were painted with blue-grey colour naval paint - giving the town it's name.
The Sheerness Clock Tower was built in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. It is the tallest cast iron tower in Kent at 36 feet tall.
In February 1971, a train travelling from London failed to stop when reaching Sheerness and crashed into the wooden station building. It was reconstructed to the side of the end of the lines after this accident, to prevent it from happening again. It resulted in the death of 1 passenger and 11 injured passengers.
The Church of St. Thomas the Apostle was built in 1089. The western wall and windows were damaged during WWII by a bomb that fell adjacent to the church, the wall and glass were restored in 1996. The church is without running water, electricity or gas but is open once a month for services including Christmas Eve.
The SS Montgomery is a ship that lies just 1.5m from the cost of Sheerness. It's masts are clearly visible from land. The sunken ships contains 1,400 tonnes of high explosives which some fear could go off at any time. It was a US Liberty Ship used during World War II. In 1994, while waiting to join a convoy across the channel to France, harsh weather caused the ship to drag anchor and founder on a sand bank. The ship was left stranded as it began to crack and buckle under the weight of the explosives on board.
The Warden Church dates back to at least 1595 and was dedicated to St James. Unfortunately, the remains of the church are now a few hundred yards out at sea due to severe coastal erosion. It replaced an earlier church that was situated a mile or so along the road, but suffered the same fate and is now also below the sea.