Nearly 900 years ago
Standing proudly on the banks of the River Medway is the 12th–Century Keep of Rochester Castle.
Passing you by
I used to see this incredible structure from Monday to Friday when I headed up to London on my daily commute by train across the River Medway.
We take so many of these historical pieces of our past for granted and continue on our way, without a second thought that nearly 900 years of history is on our doorstep.
The Medieval Keep was built in 1127 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, after King Henry I entrusted the castle to the clergy.
Entering the castle grounds is free. However, it is certainly worth paying to take the giant leap back in history and scale the walls within.
Rochester Castle is one of over 400 historic places with free access to English Heritage members.
If you’re planning on visiting the area then it’s well worth considering, as Upnor Castle is only a few miles away.
Or closer to London, Eltham Palace
Siege of 1215
However, in the early 13th century new disputes between King John and the Archbishop culminated in the famous siege of 1215.
The Royal Army’s persistence paid off, and they brought down the south-east turret, by burning the fat from 40 pigs, which led to the weakening of the foundations.
A round one
When wandering the grounds, an unusual aspect to look out for is that when King John’s son Henry III instructed the Keep to be repaired, the destroyed square turret was replaced with a circular one.
It’s actually not immediately apparent, but keep an eye out.
Head to the top
Although you can no longer tread the floors of former Kings, you can certainly climb the turrets and enjoy the fantastic views across the Medway.
The Keep is the tallest building of its kind in Europe and stands at 113ft (34 metres) high. As you wind around the towers and pop out at each level take a stroll around, you’ll appreciate how the castle layout would have been.
You can just imagine
You’ll see from the medieval arched windows and doors, where the more elegant rooms would have been, and from here Kings would have entertained.
The ancient fireplaces are still identifiable and appear to be just left hanging in mid-air.
Along the ramparts
However, if you don’t mind heights, the best view is from the ramparts.
You can stroll all around and have a bird’s eye view of Rochester Cathedral and the River Medway meandering through the countryside.
Take a stroll
As mentioned the gardens are free, so you can take your hamper and enjoy a picnic on the grounds, and take a stroll after through the moat.