Friday, November 27, 2009

Day trip to Rochester

The historic city of Rochester is one of my favourite places to visit in Kent.

The town's skyline is dominated by the Norman Castle built by Gundulf Bishop of Rochester in around 1087.

Gundulf was a Norman monk who came to England in 1070 shortly after the Battle of Hastings and subsequent conquest by William the Conqueror. Gundulf was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1077 and died in 1108.

His statue is carved into the nearby Cathedral together with Bishop John I who held the position from 1125 until his death in 1137.

The first Cathedral in Rochester was founded by the Saxons in around 600 AD.

We would have liked to have had a look inside the Cathedral but there was a wedding taking place that day and we thought it best not to gate crash.

There are several things I like about Rochester..... for one it has a variety of small family owned shops and a distinct abscence of the major chains that you can find in any High Street anywhere in the country. This gives it a refrsehing individuality and character which you don't often find nowadays.

Junior was certainly impressed with the Christmas window displays!

Another thing that is good about Rochester is the large number of traditional pubs and restaurants making it a great location for a pleasant evening out. Due to it's close proximity to the Naval Dockyards in Chatham and location on the River Medway, the town was always a favourite haunt of sailors......

In December 1762 one ship's officer wrote the following in a letter to his family....
On Monday last a Sailor went into the late Mr. Pickerring's Brewhouse at Rochester, and took it into his Head that he would swim in a Tun of Strong Beer, and being in Liquor, whether his Foot slipped as he was looking in, or that he did it wilfully, is uncertain, but he pitched in Head foremost; and although he was taken out immediately, he died in a few Minutes afterwards.

There are a wide variety of historic buildings in the High Street dating back to the 1500's...

The tall building on the left is the town's visitor vcentre and tourist information. The building below, complete with ship weather cock, is the Guildhall and was built in 1687. It now houses the town museum.

The town clock on the Old Corn Exchange.

The lion and unicorn emblem of King George III and Queen Charlotte adorn the Royal and Victoria Bull Hotel which is over four hundred years old.

The Hotel was originally a coaching inn called the Bull but got the grander name following an overnight stay by the then Princess, later Queen Victoria in 1836.

A regular visitor to the Hotel was Charles Dickens who lived nearby at Gads Hill.

In my next post I will tell the story of the preposterously named former MP for Rochester, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and his colourful career and later tragic demise....

If you have enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. I have seen a lot of impressive cathedrals in my life, but not too many Norman castles like Rochester's. Gundulf was not bad for a cleric, was he? His castle's curtain wall and keep are pretty impressive, even 1000 years later!

  2. Hi Hels - things were obviously built to last in those days :-)

    I have been inside the cathedral today. Very impressive. I will try and write another post soon and include some internal pictures too.


  3. This is a super blog, Glen. Thanks for flagging it up. Rochester is a lovely place. The castle is one of my favourites. Ana

  4. I never been to Rochester, but I'll get there at some point. A really informative and readable post with lots of good photos. Thanks. Phil

  5. Ana & Phil - thanks for your comments. They are much appreciated!


  6. Great Rochester Castle blog. Originally i was looking for a recent photo of the castle this is because i was there on 19 nov 09 and took a photo in which a light appears in the middle of the face turret(above the windows)im wandering if a security light is there,but its defo not in your photo.whoooo!

  7. Hi Matt - I never noticed any ghosties while I was there but you never know.....


  8. Hi there, we want to visit Rochester for a day out, so this is really good to have as a guide. Looking forward to seeing the cathedral. Keep up the interesting blogs, Karen aka kentbeachcomber