Visit Rochester and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Rochester, Kent. This port and commercial centre has a wealth of interesting features. It has a long history. There were probably prehistoric, and certainly Celtic, settlements. The Romans established an important base which they called Durobrivae, here where their road crossed the Medway; after the Romans came the Anglo Saxons who called it Hrofesceaster, from which the present name derives. William the Conqueror, realizing its strategic importance, decreed that a castle be maintained permanently there. Rochester Castle was one of the most important strong-points in the realm during medieval times. It was originally built shortly after the Conquest; today much of its walls remain in good condition, including a bastion, but of the castle itself there is only the mighty keep, built in Henry I's reign. It makes a prominent landmark, standing 113 ft above ground level and 70 ft square at the base, with walls averaging from 11 to 13 ft thick, in which passages and a circular stairway lead up to the battlements. On the way up can be seen the site of the banqueting hall, a Norman chapel and mural galleries. From the top the view over the city, the surrounding countryside and the River Medway, the docks, and, further off, the Thames, rewards the climb. The castle grounds make a pleasant green park. The castle and grounds are open to the public.
Near the castle stands the cathedral, pleasantly set in a close. The bishopric of Rochester is the second oldest in England, having been established at the beginning of the 7th century. The present cathedral stands on the site of the original Anglo-Saxon church and was largely built in the latter part of the 12th century. There were considerable alterations after severe damage by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War, and heavy restoration in the 19th century. There is much Norman, Perpendicular and l5th-century work still in evidence. Worthy of note are the Norman west doorway, the 13th-century transepts and a 13th-century crypt with heavy ribbed vault below. A fine series of bishops' tombs dates from more than seven centuries ago.
Around the cathedral are the remains of the former monastic buildings, the ruined chapter house and the cloisters. There are three ancient gates: Priors Gate, Deanery Gate and Chertsey's Gate leading into the High Street. The last of these is popularly known as Jasper's Gate, under which name it appeared in Dickens's last novel, the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood. Also nearby is St Nicholas Church, originally built in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 17th.
In the High Street stands the Guildhall. Built in 1687, it is of red brick on Doric columns, and above its tiled roof is a cupola surmounted by a weathervane in the shape of a full-rigged ship. Designed in 1780, this vane is of copper, and 5 ft long. The council room is finely panelled and has a beautifully moulded ceiling, the gift of Sir Cloudsley Shovell, an admiral in Queen Anne's navy and an M.P. for the city. He went down off the Scilly Isles with his ship, which was eventually to become the object of a deep-water treasure hunt. Close by is the Corn Exchange, the modern part of which was built about 100 years ago, and the older, now called Prince's Hall, early in the 18th century at Shovell's expense. From the front projects a huge clock on an ornamental bracket bearing the admiral's coat of arms; this was the ‘moon-faced clock’ of Dickens's Uncommercial Traveller.
A neat, gabled building in the High Street bears an inscription over the doorway to the effect that it was for “six poor travellers”. It was erected in 1771 on the site of an original home founded in 1579 by Sir Richard Watts, a wealthy citizen, in which six poor travellers were entitled to stay one night, receive dinner, and, before departing the following morning, the sum of fourpence in lieu of breakfast. Dickens used this building in Seven Poor Travellers.
In Maidstone Road is Restoration House, where Charles II spent the night of 28 May 1660 on his way to London to reclaim his throne. Twenty-eight years later James II was held for a week in the city on his flight to France in 1688.
Eastgate House, at the eastern end of the High Street, is a fine example of late Tudor domestic architecture and yet another favourite Dickens locale: it was Westgate House in Pickwick Papers, and the Nun's House in Edwin Drood.
Nearby towns: Chatham, Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone, Sittingbourne, West Malling
Nearby villages: Allhallows, Aylesford, Bicknor, Boxley, Bredhurst, Brompton, Burham, Chatham, Chattenden, Cliffe, Cobham, Cooling, Cuxton, Detling, East Malling, East Tilbury, Eccles, Gilling, Halling, Hempstead, High Halstow, Holborough, Hoo, Low Street, Lower Halstow, Luddesdown, Meopham, Rainham, Ryarsh, Sharnal Street, Shorne, Snodland, Sole Street, St. Mary Hoo, Stockbury, Strood, Thames Haven, Tilbury, Trotterscliffe, Upchurch, Vigo, Wainscott, West Tilbury, Wouldham
Have you decided to visit Rochester or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Rochester bed and breakfast (a Rochester B&B or Rochester b and b)
- a Rochester guesthouse
- a Rochester hotel (or motel)
- a Rochester self-catering establishment, or
- other Rochester accommodation