The main street is the Roman Watling Street, which leads into the historic cathedral city of Rochester.
It became an important shipbuilding centre in the reign of Henry VIII, and later was developed by Elizabeth I against the threat of the Spanish Armada.
The Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway in 1667 and caused much destruction, in response to which defensive forts were built.
Today it is the sole remaining of the Royal Navy`s great rope making centres.
Nelson`s flagship HMS Victory was launched at Chatham.
Charles Dickens was born at Portsmouth but spent much of his childhood at Chatham. This is reflected in the major new tourist attraction Dickens World.
The almshouses known as the Sir John Hawkins Hospital were founded in 1592.
St. Bartholomew`s Hospital has an 11th century chapel.
The conspicuous Naval War Memorial, high on a hill, dates from 1924.
People born in Chatham include the painter Richard Dadd; physician William Jenner; and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Chatham for groups.