10 reasons to unearth Rochester, Kent, England

In Counties, Days Out, Featured, Kent, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Normans, Dickens & Baggins

Rochester town is in the heart of the Medway in Kent, and for Gary and me, it’s just a few miles down the road. We often pop there for lunch, but as with so many places that are on your doorstep, you just take them for granted.

View from Rochester bridge overlooking the promenade and the entrance to Rochester Castle with the Keep high on the hill above.

Rochester Castle from the river

However, this time was different rather than just fleetingly pass through; we decided to befriend Rochester and discover its rich history as a tourist.

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The historical centre of Rochester is easy to stroll around.

There is just so much to discover amongst the little alleys and lanes, let alone the imposing Norman fortress & beautiful cathedral.

There’s no surprise to see why Charles Dickens was inspired here.

The historic Eastgate house in Rochester, A predominantly red brick building with heavy black framed windows and a Tudor style black and white frontage .

Featured Image Caption

I’m sure after visiting Rochester you could add to this list (and your certainly welcome to comment), but this is our “starter for 10.”

Rochester Castle -

The view from inside Rochester Castle grounds looking towards the Norman Keep, With the union flag fluttering in the breeze.

The Keep from the grounds

The striking Norman Castle protecting the town is the first thing you’ll see when crossing the River Medway, into Rochester. The 12th century Keep has far reaching views across the town and is in a prime position to defends itself. You may even notice that one of its towers is round and the other three square.  For more check out our post - 'The Kings' footsteps, Rochester Castle, Kent, England'.  Rochester Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Looking up at the Keep of Rochester Castle from the now dried out moat that surrounds it.

Rochester Castle from the moat

English Heritage

Access to the castle is free for English Heritage Members (Prices for 2019 are £6.40 for adults, £4 for 5-15yr olds) You'll also find Upnor Castle is also free to members too.

Our favourite travel reads

Rochester Cathedral -

Looking down on Rochester cathedral from Rochester Castle with River Medway meandering through the landscape in the background.

Rochester Cathedral

Just an arrow shot away from the castle is Rochester Cathedral, the history of the Cathedral dates to the 7th century and the Diocese of Rochester is the second oldest in England after Canterbury. The stories that this building could tell would be amazing, from the Anglo Saxons to the present day. In 2004, it had its 1400th anniversary, now that’s old!!!

Dickensian Rochester -

The red brick building of Restoration House in Rochester from the kerbside.

Restoration House

All things Dickens, where do you start. Charles Dickens lived in Medway for almost 20 years and referenced Rochester in a few of his novels, particularly the Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations the Seven Poor Travellers. Elements of Restoration House (in Rochester), are used for Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations.

Even a festival is held every year for him.

Rochester Guildhall -

Rochester's Guildhall museum in a red brick building dating from the 17th century with a goldcrest and a golden weathervane in the shape of a galleon.

Guildhall Museum

Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and houses a museum on the many elements of Medway History. Mounted high on the roof is an amazing weather vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th-century warship. It has weathered the ever-changing climate since 1780.

Something to make your travels easier?

  • 6-Port Desktop USB Charging Station

  • Mini Dual USB Car Adapter

  • Portable Charger 2 USB Ports Power Bank

  • Bose SoundLink Revolve, Portable Bluetooth Speaker

  • USB rechargeable LED Flashlight

  • Collapsible Water Bottle

The Huguenots in Britain -

A quaint little cul-de-sac called La Providence there was once a sanctuary for the Huguenots refugees of the 17th century

La Providence

Discover the history of the Huguenots, in Britain’s only Huguenot museum. Their French Hospital nearby was founded in 1718. It still provides accommodation for elderly people who are of Huguenot heritage.

An interesting read

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

The High Street -

A stroll through the High Street is a must, as there are some fantastic examples of timbered homes and great quirky little shops.

Fieldstaff; one of many traditional antiques and bric-a-brac shops in Rochester High Street.

Fieldstaff Antiques

There is an ironmonger store reminiscent of the Two Ronnies “Four Candles” sketch.

Johnstones, a traditional shop in Rochester High Street that specialises in tools and hardware.


And you have to pop into Baggins Book Bazaar; this is a bookworms paradise.

England’s largest secondhand and rare bookshop and an absolute maze of shelves.

Baggins Book Bazaar; The narrow front to a second hand bookstore that claims to be England's largest

Baggins Book Bazaar

Find a Pub -

The white and black half-timbered historic pub, The Coopers’ Arms, in Rochester decorated with hanging baskets.

The Coppers' Arms

No excuses are needed, lunch is calling, and the Coopers Arms which was built during the reign of Richard I in 1189 is a quintessential English pub. If its winter snuggle down next to the open fire with an ale, or if you’re lucky like we were, enjoy the sunshine in the garden.

How to get there

You can catch a train from London St Pancras or London Victoria to Rochester Station which takes around 40 minutes.

Maritime Medway -

A view over the River Medway from Rochester Castle with scores of boats moored on the banks of the river.  In the foreground is a large period mansion.

The River Medway

Take in the maritime vibes along the River Medway to Chatham and visit the Historic Naval Dockyard, where HMS Victory was built. Jump aboard two warships and a submarine and walk the streets of numerous film sets.

Upnor Castle -

A view across the choppy River Medway, in Kent, to Upnor Castle on the far bank. A small sailing boat is anchored in the centre of the River

Upnor Castle

Another fortress treat is Upnor Castle, nestled on the opposite side of the Medway on the edge of the river. An extra reason to bring along your English Heritage pass, the little village itself is worth a visit.

Have You

Visted Rochester? What's your highlight? Have you seen Ironclad, the movie loosley based on the Siege of Rochester castle?

Our favourite travel reads

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Inspired to visit Rochester?

Does the history tempt you? would you like to stroll up the hight street and step back in time?

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About the Author


Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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