Restoration House as we see it today is the amalgamation of two medieval buildings which were combined in the late 16th or early 17th century to create a mansion house just outside the south east corner of the city wall Restoration House is a unique survival of a city mansion. Situated in the heart of historic Rochester (England) the house takes it’s name from the stay of King Charles II on the eve of the Restoration. It is also the Satis House of Dickens’ “Great Expectations”, the home of Miss Havisham.
Restoration House as we see it today is the amalgamation of two medieval buildings which were combined in the late 16th or early 17th century to create a mansion house just outside the south east corner of the city wall of Rochester. It was neither a town house nor a country seat but shared features of both, not least being the political seat of its creator and first owner Henry Clerke. Henry Clerke and his son Francis, both ambitious lawyers, were both elected several times as Royalist members of Parliament for Rochester.
The Civil War during the 1640’s led to this property, which was central to their political effectiveness, being sequestered and occupied by Colonel Gibbon, Cromwell’s commander in the South East. However with the death of Cromwell in 1658 and the weakness of his son, Royalist forces began plotting to restore the deposed King’s son, Charles Stuart, exiled in France and Holland, back onto the throne.
rom early 1660 plans were advancing and Rochester being the only crossing of the Medway on the road from Dover to London was a strategic consideration, more so with a large part of the nation’s fleet, much expanded under Cromwell, being moored at Chatham Dockyard nearby.
The mansion in the ownership of Royalist Francis Clerke and presumably with the cooperation of Colonel Gibbon, was fitted up to receive the young Charles and to act as his overnight base in Rochester, an important stage on his progress to London. With Charles were his two younger brothers the Dukes of York and Gloucester.
Over the past ten years the present owners of Restoration House have uncovered various parts of the decorative scheme which they believe were “run up” for the occasion. These provide fascinating examples of fashionable mid-17th century Continental taste seen through provincial eyes at a time when such innovations had been quashed by Cromwell. Thus the use of ‘French Grey’ paint, of paint effect ‘marbling’ and ‘japanning’, of the opening up of rooms through ‘French doors’ cut into earlier partitions were not only introduced for Charles’ reception but have miraculously survived under later layers to be now once more revealed.
Restoration House has an unusually large walled garden of some ¾ of an acre, the same extent as in the 1864 OS map. This is an unexpected haven just 100 yards off the old High St. As well as boundary walls the garden is divided length ways by a central brick wall itself pierced with archways and a formal pond connecting the two parts.
These two parts are made up of formal and productive areas. A large boxwood parterre dominates the Southern garden flanked by an herbaceous border and a picturesque half sunk green house roofed in glass scales, while opposite a long shrubbery nestles in the shade of the wall. An upper lawn sweeps back towards the house with a mixed border of intricate planting. Between these the level drops to a long Portland stone pond, its balustrade over hung with fruiting quinces, adjacent to which is an established Muscat vine.
Walking through a brick archway one can enter an enclosed Cutting garden which supplies the house with flowers for arrangements. A vegetable garden and second green house close the eastern vista.
Walking back towards the house the level expanse of Yew Court, the topiary on one side cast long shadows, while in an opening of the hedges on the other side entry is gained into a flourishing Mediterranean pot garden with giant Echiums and Citrus under swags of Wisteria.
The garden as it stands has been created over the past decade incorporating mature trees and archaeological features. Reclaimed local materials and traditional building skills and possibly most important of all, lime mortar, have been used throughout.
Please check before visiting.
Telephone: Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm
Restoration House,17-19 Crow Lane,Rochester,Kent.ME1 1RF
Disclaimer: The information on this leisure attraction was presented with the best of intentions. Any reported errors will be corrected immediately. People interested in contacting the above leisure attraction should confirm for themselves the accuracy of any data presented.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015