No visit to Rochester would be complete without a tour of this fascinating castle.
Rochester Castle stands on Castle Hill. The first castle was built on this site by the Romans to protect the bridge across the River Medway. Watling Street, the main road from London to Dover, crossed here. Although it is the third castle to stand on the site, the great tower is one of the oldest in England.
Building started in 1127, when custody of the castle was granted by Henry I to William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury. William proceeded to build a truly mighty tower. As well as being exceptionally tall, the keep was 21m (70ft) square, and at its base the walls were 3.5m (12ft) thick. The south west corner tower is cylindrical rather than square, built as a replacement to the original tower that collapsed during a siege in 1215. Just months after the signing of the Magna Carta the castle was held by rebellious barons. King John led a determined attack on the castle, using miners to dig under the tower until only their wooden pit props were holding it up. They then built a bonfire using the fat from forty pigs to feed the flames and burn the wooden props, causing the tower to collapse.
Shortly afterwards, Rochester Castle was given the status of a major royal stronghold, and the shattered corner of the keep was reconstructed in a cylindrical style, and further protected by the addition of a drum tower. Further destruction was suffered in 1264, but repairs were not carried out for more than 100 years. During this time of neglect, coupled with being subjected to the elements, Rochester Castle began to deteriorate into ruins. However, Edward III undertook a major rebuilding and restoration programme and by 1400 Rochester Castle was, once again, a viable fortress.
The roof and all the floors are missing from the keep, but you can still climb to the top. The castle grounds are now maintained as a park. There are often concerts and other activities in the gardens and moat, particularly during one of the festivals.
If you have children, there is plenty of space for them to run about and kick a ball. There is also a small playground area beside the river on the opposite side of the Esplanade.
There is no castle car park but there is parking available in the area.
Wheelchair access is available to the grounds only. Here you will find the toilets. There is a shop but no food and drink facilities. The castle grounds are suitable for picnics. No dogs are allowed except guide dogs. There are no guided tours but audio tour is available.
Opening Times - Please check before visiting.
April - September 10.00 - 18.00
October - March 10.00 - 16.00
Tel: 01634 402276
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