Places To Go in Historic Rochester, England

by Gill Webster /
Gill Webster's picture
Mar 28, 2009 / 1 comments

Rochester is located in Kent on the River Medway and is part of a conglomeration of towns called the Medway Towns.  The town of Rochester has been built within the walls of the roman town, which was sited there because of the roman Watling Street crossing of the River Medway.  Watling Street was a major route from London to Canterbury and Dover.  Rochester was known in roman times as Durobrivae, meaning “the stronghold by the bridge”.


Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral


Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral

Today Rochester is a bustling town with many small, independent shops offering a range of products, such as jewellery, art galleries, bakeries and a lot more.  Most of the buildings date way back in history.  In some of the locations you will find plaques, which refer to places that Charles Dickens has mentioned in his novels.  Charles Dickens lived in nearby Chatham as a child and got to know Rochester very well.  Later in his writings of novels he would revisit places known to him in his childhood.

Behind the High Street, in a walled garden you can find Charles Dickens’ chalet, which was once located in the grounds of Gad Hill Place, his home in Higham, about 4 miles west of Rochester, where he lived from 1857.  The upstairs room of the chalet was Dickens’ study where he wrote his novels.  It is said that he was working up there the day before he died in 1870, on his last unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  There used to be Dickens museum in Rochester but that has now been moved to Chatham, where you and the family can find the Dickens World experience, for more details go to


Charles Dickens Chalet

Charles Dickens Chalet - in the centre of photo


Rochester also known for its Cathedral and Castle.  The Cathedral, England’s second oldest, dates back to Saxton times.  The Saxton church, which served as a Cathedral was smaller then now.  The Cathedral was then rebuilt by the Normans after they invaded England.  The Normans decided to build a more worthy building as the Cathedral.  The Cathedral is open to visitors, so you can look around and there is also a tiny gift shop, if you want to buy any gifts.  It is a very impressive building with some very fine stone carvings.


Rochester Cathedral - the Nave Altar

Rochester Cathedral - the Nave Altar


Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral - looking back from the Nave


Rochester Cathedral - down in the Crypt

Rochester Cathedral - down in the Crypt

Across the road from the Cathedral you can see the Castle and the remains of the ditch that once surrounded the castle.  You can see the great square Keep towering above the river and it is thought that this was where the Romans originally built their first fort to guard the original bridge over the Medway.  In 1087 Bishop Gundulf, one of William Conqueror’s finest architects, starting construction of the Castle.  (Bishop Gundulf was also architect to the Cathedral Rochester.)  Rochester Castle is also known as being one of the best preserved examples of Norman architecture.


Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle - viewed from the Cathedral

During the year Rochester is host to many events, like festivals, concerts and farmer markets.  The festivals for 2009 are:

Sweeps Festival - 2nd to 4th May- Tons of Morris and real ale for the folkie.

Dickensian Summer Festival - 29th to 31st May

Fuse Festival
- 6th to 20th June- 13th June is Dance Day in Rochester

Dickensian Christmas Festival - 5th and 6th December- An ideal opportunity for buying unique gifts and enjoying the festive atmosphere.


For more information on Rochester including places to eat, how to get there, shopping and events go to




Gill Webster is the England Editor for Wandering Educators. 

Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    13 years 11 months ago

    thanks, gill! a one-two punch with two things i love to see - castles and cathedrals! now, we can't wait to go there!


    Jessie Voigts, PhD


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