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Rochester was also an important point for people travelling the Pilgrims' Way, which stretches from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. In Rochester, parts of the Roman city wall are still in evidence, and the city has many fine buildings, such as the Guildhall (today a museum), which was built in 1687 and is among the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent; the Corn Exchange, built in 1698, originally the Butcher's Market; the small Tudor house of Watts Charity endowed by Sir Richard Watts to house "six poor travelers" for one night each; Satis House and Old Hall, both visited by Queen Elizabeth I, built in 1573.
Rochester later became a walled town and, under later Saxon influence, a mint was established here.
The unitary authority was formed in 1998 when the City of Rochester-upon-Medway amalgamated with Gillingham Borough Council and part of Kent County Council to form Medway Council, a unitary authority independent of Kent County Council.Over half of the unitary authority area is rural in nature.The Medway area has a long and varied history dominated originally by the city of Rochester and later by the naval and military establishments principally in Chatham and Gillingham.Rochester was established on an Iron Age site by the Romans, who called it Durobrivae (meaning "stronghold by the bridge"), to control the point where Watling Street (now the A2) crossed the River Medway.
Medway is one of the boroughs included in the Thames Gateway development scheme.It is also the home of Universities at Medway, a tri-partite collaboration of the University of Greenwich, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University on a single campus in Chatham, together with the University for the Creative Arts, which has a campus in Rochester.