The city has Roman origins, commander Aulus Paulitus and his corpse had built a fort and a bridge at the River Medway. On the fundations o the Roman fort a castle was built by William the Conqueror, a castle that is aming the so called Circle of Nine (Baynard’s and Montfichet used to be in London; Windsor; Colchester Castle in Essex with the talllest keep of 46 m; Rochester; Canterbury, Oxford, Wallingford, Hertford, Berkhamstead). By the way, William built over 80 castles till his death.
Charles Dickens was born in nearby Chatham and lived there until the age of five. He returned not long before his death. The lands around this area are shown in many works of Dickens. Rochester celebrates the great author with several festivals, like Dickens Festival (in June) and a Dickensian Christmas (fun fair) . Moreover, the Dickens Centre is also found here as well as cafés and pubs namedafter his characters.
Rochester is also famous for Sweeps Festival when chimney sweepers dance and march. It is organized early May every year and a festival combines a fair, music and morris-dancing productions and fun fair elements for all ages.
A DICKENSIAN CHRISTMAS
At the entrance, a large gun taken from the Russians in the Crimean War stand guard. In 1215, noblemen had a fierce and bloody battle against King John I (known as John Lackland). The battle ended with the collision of the main tower. The castle was ruined by fires and theft later on and was abandoned from the 1400s till 1870 when the site was made into a public park. Rochester Castle is part of the English Heritage as a Listed Building and Scheduled Monument. The site has its own ghost, the White Lady.
Founded by Archbishop Justus in 604, Rochester Cathedral is the secon oldest in England (following Canterbury). The Norman Cathedral dates back to the 1080s and was ordered to built as part of a mnastery by Bishop Gundolf. Elements of Norman architecture can still be discovered in the nave and the crypt. Unique sights are a 13th-century fresco and an unfinished version of the Wheel of Fortune. The crypt hosts the Textus Roffensis which is a manuscript from 1120 and a great memorabilia to that era. Similar to the castle the cathedral was on fire several times. Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) put Bishop Nicholas Ridley on the bonfire because he supported Lady Jane Grey, a Protestant to get on the throne after King Henry VIII’s successor, son Edward died. The cathedral was ruined by Oliver Cromwell’s men in the 1640s, and no renovations were made for 200 years when the refurbishent following Georg Gilbert Scott’s plans began.
The Cathedral itself hosts a nice medieval Wheel of Fortune painting, a great organ as well as a memorial to a “William”, a legendary pilgrim.
LIVING WALK ROCHESTER