Rochester (England)

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Rochester (England)

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Rochester is a small cathedral city on the River Medway in the north of the English county of Kent. Together with its neighbouring towns of Chatham and Gillingham it forms a large urban area known as the Medway Towns.

Get in

By car

  • From London, take the A2 arterial road (32 miles / 51 km).
  • From Canterbury, take the A2 and the M2 to Junction 3 for the Rochester exit (32 miles / 51 km, about 40 mins).

Park and ride facilities are available on Saturdays only, see National Park and Ride Directory

By train

Rochester Station is located on the "unfashionable" end of Rochester High Street, to the east of Star Hill. Trains are operated by SouthEastern From London Charing Cross (via Dartford) (typical journey time 60 - 65 minutes) and Victoria (typical journey time 45 - 60 minutes). Trains from Ramsgate and Dover also serve Rochester, although in some cases it may be necessary to change at Chatham. The new Javelin high speed service operates every 30 minutes between Rochester and London St Pancras with a journey time of 35 minutes. There is a supplement for using this service unless travelling from outside of the London region.

Get around

Local buses are operated by Arriva [2].



  • Rochester Cathedral [3] - the second oldest cathedral foundation in England, after Canterbury
  • Rochester Castle, open daily 10am-6pm (April-September), 10am-4pm (October-March), last admission 45 minutes before closing, admission adults £4, child / student / concessions £3, family £11 - recognised as one of the best preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England, the great keep towering over the River Medway, square, massive and one of the tallest in the country, measures 113 feet high, 70 feet square and has walls 12 feet thick in places.

Rochester Castle was originally a Roman castrum. A new castle was built on a hill near the site on which the castle now stands after the Norman invasion of 1066. This would have been a wooden motte and bailey type castle. In 1088 the castle came under attack in the conflict between William Rufus and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. After William the Conqueror died in 1087 Normandy was split. Odo along with many others supported William's elder brother Robert, Duke of Normandy rather than William Rufus, the Conqueror's younger brother. Odo had control of the castle and it became the headquarters for the rebels. The castle fell to Rufus' army and Odo was forced into exile. Gundulf, the bishop of Rochester, orchestrated the creation of a stone castle alongside the cathedral. Over the centuries the castle was the scene for many conflicts including King John's attempt to regain to castle from rebellious Barons and, in 1264, Simon de Montfort's rebellion. By the 17th century, the castle had become neglected, the keep had been burned out, and the site was being used as a local quarry for building materials. In 1870 the castle grounds were leased to the City of Rochester, who turned them into a public park and eventually, in the 20th century, responsibility for this imposing old structure was taken over by English Heritage. Today, the castle stands as a proud reminder of the history surrounding the old town of Rochester, along with the cathedral, the cobbled streets and the Dickensian reflections.

Museums and Galleries

  • the Charles Dickens Centre - currently closed since November 2004 for renovations. No date has been set for its reopening, and there is considerable uncertainty as to its future.
  • the Guildhall Museum



Rochester High Street is notable for its many antiques stores. There are also a number of secondhand bookshops, notably Baggins Book Bazaar near the Guildhall Museum, which claims to be "England's largest secondhand and rare bookshop". [4]


  • The Golden Lion, 147–149 High Street, Rochester ME1 1EL, 01634 880521. Wetherspoon pub with reasonable bar meals. A main course and a drink is generally under £10.
  • The Eagle Tavern, 124 High Street Rochester, Kent, ME1 1JT, [1]. Friendly ran pub, nice food and wonderfull music. Live Music every weekend


  • Amadeus - Kent's largest nightclub, attracts huge crowds in there thousands, esp on the weekend. It is more like akin to the super-clubs you can find in Ibiza.


  • Medway Manor Hotel, 14-16 New Road, Rochester, ME1 1BG 01634 847985. Located about five minutes walk up the hill from Rochester station. Ensuite single rooms from £45. The traffic outside can be noisey, so it may be better to ask for a room at the back, which also gives a better view.

Get out

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