Location: Kent  Map


Description of Rochester

Rochester is located within the area of the unitary authority of Medway, on the banks of the homonymous river, and about 50 km from London. Rochester is known for its cathedral and its castle. Rochester Castle was built between 1087 and 1089 for Bishop Gundulf, some parts of the castle survive even though it has been greatly altered by use and reuse in the following centuries. The latter, in 1215 being occupied by barons rebelled by the peace agreements reached by King John I of England with France, was besieged for about 2 months by the king himself. The siege was lifted when the defenders died of starvation. The Church of the Christ and the Blessed Virgin is a Norman building.
The Romano-British toponym for Rochester has been a matter of debate for a long time. The name Durobrivae can be translated as a "bastion on the bridge" or "stronghold of the bridges". It was also known as Durobrovum and Durobrivis, which could be a Latinization of the British word Dourbruf which means "fast-flowing, river".
There is evidence of at least one Neolithic settlement found in 1961 by R. E. Chaplin below the Roman levels of the city. Rochester was one of the two centers of the Cantiaci tribe (the other is the capital, Cantiacorum, today Canterbury). It was the administrative west center of the Celtic kingdom of Kent. The Romans arrived and called the settlement Durobrivae, after being conquered by Aulus Plaucius. The later Roman colony offers us the current Main Street and the hill Northgate / Boley. Around the nineties of the second century: the Romans built mud protections at key points for the domain of the territory. In the early third century AD hese were replaced by others made of stone, which are still preserved. In 427 the Romans decided to abandon what for them was the province of Britania.


Getting here

By plane
The nearest airport is London City Airport (IATA: LCY) with connections to some European cities, approximately 50 km away. The nearest major international airport is London Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGW), approximately 75 km away. The airports London Southend Airport (IATA: SEN), only a few connections) and London Stansted Airport (IATA: STN) are domains of low-cost airlines.

By train
Rochester train station is approximately 100m north of the High Street (ME1 1HQ).

Rochester is on the Chatham Main Line and trains are served by Southeastern. There are connections to London (depending on the train, Victoria, St Pancras or Charing Cross), Canterbury East, Ramsgate and Dover Priory, among others.

In the street
Coming into Rochester from the north, on the M25 you must pass through the Dartford Crossing (toll £2.00 car). Turn off the M25 onto the A2.

Arriving from the south is via the M2.

By boat
The port of Dover is around 75 km away.

The route to and from Calais is operated by the following ferry companies: DFDS, P&O and My Ferry Link


Local transport

On foot
The old town, which is easy to explore on foot, mainly includes the High Street, Cathedral and Castle. A leaflet (from the Medway Council) with a city tour is available in the tourist information and in the castle shop.

Corporation Street car park (long stay), coming off the Medway on the left
Blue Boar Lane Car Park car park (short stay, up to 5 hours) coming off the Medway on the right hand side



You can start a city tour at the Medway Bridge. From here follow the High Street, turning right into Boley Hill (on the left is the Cathedral, a short detour to the right is the Castle). Walking along the facade of the Cathedral, you come through Minor Canon Row and The Vines to Crow Lane, which leads back to the High Street. Turn right to Eastgate House and back to Medway Bridge. The route passes all the sights described.

Rochester Castle, Rochester, ME1 1SW, accessible from Castle Hill, Esplanade and Baker's Walk. Tel: +44 (0) 1634 335882. Open: 1 October to 29 March 2015 daily 10am to 4pm. Price: Adults £6.00 (only the keep, the courtyard is freely accessible).

At the site of the current castle there was probably a Roman sentry post protecting the Watling Street trade route. At this strategically important position, William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle. Bishop Gundulf, who is also responsible for the construction of Rochester Cathedral and the Tower of London, was chosen as the master builder. Construction of the keep, which is one of the largest in England, began around 1127. The walls reach a height of 34 m (113 ft) and are up to 3.50 m (12 ft) thick. Although the main purpose of the keep was defensive, there are some beautifully crafted archways and windows. The sad highlight in the history of the castle was the 7-week siege in 1215. Shortly before, the rebellious barons had forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. The king engaged in a bitter war against the barons who held the castle. John ordered a steady stream of arrows and missiles. In addition, a tunnel was dug under the keep. Part of it collapsed, but the defenders bravely fought on. Ultimately Rochester fell and the defenders were captured. Between 1217 and 1237 the keep was renovated. This is still clearly visible today, as the new corner tower of the keep, in contrast to the other angular ones, has a cylindrical shape. The last time the castle was involved in battle was during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. In 1423 Katharina von Valois received the castle as her widow's property. After her death in 1437 the decline of the castle began. Some of the stones were used in the construction of Upnor Castle around 1600. Rochester Castle has been a visitor attraction since the 19th century. Despite long neglect, Rochester Castle is considered one of the best preserved Norman castles in England. Although the roof and floors are missing, you can still use the passages and stairs between the walls and climb all the way to the top. From here you have an impressive view over the city, the Medway and the surrounding area.

Rochester Cathedral, College Yard. Open: Daily 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday until 5:00 p.m. Price: Admission free.

There was a cathedral in Rochester as far back as Anglo-Saxon times. It was built around 604. Traces of the building survive, they are marked by lines on the ground. The city is the second oldest bishopric in England after Canterbury. The construction of today's church, which belonged to a monastery, began in 1080. The architect was Archbishop Gundulf, who also built Rochester Castle and the White Tower in the Tower of London. The construction work dragged on for several centuries. The nave was completed in the 12th century, and the Obergarden was built 300 years later. The change in architectural style is also clearly visible in the nave: the first, round arches with zigzag ornaments date back to Norman times, while the taller pointed arches come from the early Gothic period. The transepts were also built in the early Gothic style after a fire in 1180. There is a modern (2004) fresco in the north transept. In the south transept is an ornate portal (1343) in Gothic Decorated style. The female figures are Ekklesia and Synagoga, they symbolize Christianity and Judaism. The crossing is where the nave, transept and chancel meet. The choir is separated from the nave by a rood screen. So-called green men (carved in 1840, repainted in 1992) can be seen on four bosses of the wooden ceiling. Faces are framed by foliage, leaves spill out of mouths. The "Green Men" are of Celtic origin and symbolize growth in spring. The early Christian church adopted them as a sign of the resurrection.

The west facade
The west facade, which was completed around 1160, rises up opposite the castle. Its portal is a fine example of Norman architecture. In the center of the tympanum is Christ surrounded by angels and symbols of the apostles. The large window was added later.

In the choir
The murals originally date from the 1340s but were repainted in the Victorian period. The leopard of the royal coat of arms of England is seen together with the French fleur-de-lis. This is meant to symbolize the English king's claim to France. Above it are the coats of arms of the bishops. Wheel of Fortune: wall painting from the 13th century. The surviving part was hidden by a pulpit and the wall painting until the 19th century. You can see Fortuna spinning the wheel of fortune. The men on the edge of the wheel gain power and wealth only to become poor and weak again.

Restoration House, 17-19 Crow Street, Rochester, ME1 1RF. Tel: +44 (0)1634 848520 Email: Open: May 28 to September 25, 2015 Thursday & Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Price: House & Garden £7.50 (adults), Garden £4.00.

The property was created by merging two medieval buildings that were transformed into a mansion in the 17th century. Henry Clerke, the first owner, and his son Francis were staunch supporters of the monarchy. When the Civil War (1642-1651) broke out the house was confiscated by the Parliamentarians and Colonel Gibbon made it his residence. After Cromwell died and the Commonwealth could no longer be held, Francis Clerke tried very hard to bring Charles II back to the throne. Restoration House owes its name to the fact that King Charles II spent the eve of his coronation here in 1660. The house, which suffered damage during the war, has been renovated to provide a suitable place for the future king to spend the night. Charles Dickens used the house as a model for his Satis House, the home of Miss Havisham in the novel Great Expectations. The house now houses a collection of 17C and 18C period furniture, including paintings by Reynolds, Constable and Gainsborough. A large, walled garden adjoins the house. It is divided into two areas by a brick wall. There is a ground floor and greenhouse on one side and a kitchen and cut flower garden on the other. Part of a Tudor wall has been discovered at the edge of the property. She was intrigued in the garden.


Along the High Street (starting at the Medway)

Rochester Bridge
The current road bridge over the Medway dates from 1914, replacing two older predecessors. Three cast iron arches are supported by granite pillars. At the point where the arches meet, there are columns with heraldic ornaments and lamps on plinths. Large lions lie on plinths to the right and left of the road. The pedestrian walkway is entered through a portal that is also decorated. From the bridge there is a beautiful view of Rochester Castle and across the Medway. The old bridge is used for the northwest direction. Another bridge was built in 1970 for traffic to the other. The two bridges are part of the A 2.

Guildhall Museum, 17 High St, Rochester, ME1 1PY. Tel: +44 (0) 1634 332680. The Guildhall was built in 1687. The Staircase and Main Hall have beautiful stucco ceilings added in 1695 at a donation from Sir Cloudesley Shovell. A weathervane from 1780 in the shape of a contemporary warship is enthroned on the dome. The adjacent building, which was built in 1909, also belongs to the museum. It was once the River Medway Conservancy Board Building. The museum was established in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It has been housed in the two buildings since 1979. Open: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Price: Admission free.

The city's history is illustrated and the Dickens Discovery Room pays tribute to the city's most famous resident. There is also the hull of a prison ship used on the Medway during the Napoleonic Wars. The inmates of these prisons used hair, wood and bone to create elaborate artefacts, which are also on display. Also on display are local paintings and prints, a Victorian drawing room and kitchen, as well as portraits and the city's regalia.

Old Corn Exchange Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell had the building built in 1706. It initially served as a meat market, later as a court and most recently as a grain exchange. The most distinctive feature is the clock towering far above the street, which draws the eye to the elegant facade. The clock is adorned with ornaments and the coat of arms of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.
Chertseys Gate On the corner of High Street and Boley Hill, Grade I listed. The gate was built of stone and flint in the early 15C. In the 18th century the wooden upper floor was added to the gate. The gate was part of the fortifications that once separated the Domfreiheit from the city.
Poor Travelers' House, 97 High St, Rochester, ME1 1LX. Tel: +44 (0) 1634 845609. Open: Wed to Sun 10am to 1pm & 2pm to 5pm. In winter only on some weekends (as of 2014). Price: Admission free.

The Poor Travellers' House was built in 1579, the facade was added in 1771. In his will, Richard Watts ordered the building to serve as a poorhouse. The house provided overnight shelter for those who had nowhere else to go. Above the door is an inscription from 1865 that reads: "For six poor travelers who not being rogues or proctors may receive gratis for one night lodging, entertainment and four pence each". The money was given to the people because of the Poor Law Act of 1576. The law states that anyone who has less than that is a vagabond will be flogged and sent back to their home parish. The simply furnished rooms give an impression of the conditions under which people of the lower class lived.

Eastgate House, High St. Open: Closed for renovation until 2015.



Tiny Tim Tearoom, 5 Northgate Street, ME1 1LS. Open: Tuesday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
1 Nancy's Cafe, 95 High Street, ME1 1LX. The cafe is located on the ground floor of the Tourist Information. Open: Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 10.30am to 5pm (October to March closed on Sundays).
2 Golden Lion, 147-149 High Street, ME1 1EL. Tel.: +44 (0)1634 880521. Open: Monday to Thursday & Saturday/Sunday 8am to midnight, Friday 8am to 1am.
3 Eagle Tavern, 124 High Street, ME1 1JT. Tel.: +44 (0)1634 409040. Open: Monday to Wednesday 12.00 to 23.00, Thursday/Friday 12.00 to 24.00, Saturday 11.00 to 24.00, Sunday 12.00 to 22.30, food is available Monday to Saturday from 12.00 to 24.00 8 p.m.
4 The Tudor Rose, 29/31 High Street, Upnor, ME2 4XG. Tel: +44 (0)1634 714175. The pub is close to Upnor Castle. Open: Mon to Sun 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., lunch 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
5 Topes, 60 High Street, ME1 1JY. Tel.: +44 (0)1634 845270. Open: Wed to Sun 12.00 to 14.30 and 18.30 to 21.00.
6 Mamma Mia, 4 High St. Tel: +44 (0)1634 827027 Email: Open: Sun to Thu 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday/Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Price: Pizza from £6.25.



There is several evidence of Neolithic habitation near Kit's Coty House, a ruined Long Barrow. The actual founding of the city goes back to the Romans. In AD 43 they founded a fortified city with a bridge over the Medway, possibly named Durobrivae. It is also said that Aulus Plautius built a small fort here, which only existed until the Kent area was secured. After 190 the settlement was secured by earthen ramparts, which were replaced by stone fortifications after 225. Remains of it are still preserved.

Middle Ages
Since the Anglo-Saxon conquest in the mid-5th century, Rochester has been inhabited by Romano-Brits, Jutes and Saxons respectively. In 604 Augustine of Canterbury sent Justus to build a cathedral at Rochester. With a height of 12 meters and about 9 meters wide, the apse can still be seen in today's cathedral. A cathedral school was built with her, which still exists today, the King's School. Rochester became the second see in the British Isles after Canterbury.

In 676 Rochester was sacked and pillaged by Æthelred of Mercia. During the Viking Age, the city was sacked by the Danes in 842 and 884. In 877, Alfred of Wessex ordered ships to be built to fight the Danes. This ushered in the shipbuilding era in the towns along the Medway. In 930 Rochester gained the coinage regime. From 1077 Bishop Gundulf had a decisive influence on the town's appearance. Three years after taking office, Gundulf began building the new Rochester Cathedral between the Roman wall and Watling Street, on the remains of the earlier cathedral. In 1130 the cathedral was completed. In 1087 Gundulf began building the fortifications. In 1215 the city was conquered by John the Landless and attacked in 1264 by Simon V de Montfort. In 1461 the first mayor was elected.

Modern times
On June 11, 1667, the Dutch pillaged along the Medway. In the Second Dutch War the Dutch raided the Medway, breaking through the chain at Upnor under de Ruijter and getting to the bridge at Rochester and setting fire to the English fleet. Samuel Pepys, who was the naval commander in charge of the naval port, describes the last successful invasion of mainland Britain in his diaries. Treasures from the looting can still be seen today in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. In 1687 the guild hall was built.

Rochester has been a city since 1211. In 1974, Rochester, along with Strood and Chatham, formed the Borough of Medway, which was soon renamed Rochester-upon-Medway. The city status was officially transferred to the new administrative unit. When the Borough of Medway unitary authority was founded in 1998, however, the city status was lost because no precautions had been taken to preserve it, and the unitary authority may no longer call itself the City of Medway.



Around 1550 Edmund Drake, father of Sir Francis Drake, became vicar of Upnor, a small town northeast of Rochester. The Protestant family had been evicted from their lands in Francis Drake's birthplace (Crowndale, Devonshire) as a result of a Catholic rebellion.
William Martin Conway was born in Rochester in April 1856
Charles Dickens lived near Gads Hill. The Dickens Festival is therefore celebrated every year.
The mathematician John Edensor Littlewood was born in Rochester in 1885.
Film producer Peter Rogers was born in Rochester in 1914.
The English jazz drummer Ronnie Verrell was also born here in 1926.
Kelly Brook, British film actress and fashion model, was born in Rochester in 1979.