The Kings’ footsteps, Rochester Castle, Kent, England

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

Nearly 900 years ago

Standing proudly on the banks of the River Medway is the 12th–Century Keep of Rochester Castle.

Peering down across the historical town of Rochester, the castle keep is still surrounded by its ancient stone walls, although the inner and outer baileys have long gone, a garden has been laid in its place.

Another approach to the castle, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

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.

The Medway Bridge, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

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.

Rochester Castle from the river, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

900 years

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.

The Castle from the grounds, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

Soaring above

If you are unaware of the condition of the castle before you visit, you may be surprised when you enter the Keep from below, and immediately notice the floors have all since disappeared.

Way above, you can see birds soaring in the sky beyond the ramparts.

Looking up to the sky, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

English Heritage

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.

You may also want to consider, Walmer Castle,  Deal Castle or Dover Castle

Or closer to London, Eltham Palace

Looking up

It’s quite an eerie feeling being encased within the incredible fortification and at the same time being in the open air.

Not too sure if I would like to be here after dark….

Looking up to a square corner, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK


As history has previously told us, relationships between the monarchy and the Archbishops of Canterbury has been a bit turbulent.

Particularly with Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket, who was executed in Canterbury Cathedral.

The spot where Thomas Becket was put to death in Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, Kent, England, UK

Siege of 1215

However, in the early 13th century new disputes between King John and the Archbishop culminated in the famous siege of 1215.

Once a grand Keep, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
Built of stone, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

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.

The round tower, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

It’s actually not immediately apparent, but keep an eye out.

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.

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.

Dark corridors, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
Exploring the castle, , Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

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.

A grand fireplace, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
Interesting details, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

The ancient fireplaces are still identifiable and appear to be just left hanging in mid-air.

Just a little imagination required, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

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.

Climbing to the top, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
A view along the Medway, Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, England, UK
Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

How to get there

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

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.

Rochester Castle from the moat, Rochester, Kent, England, UK

Have You?

Been tempted to venture to Rochester Castle and discover its 900 years of history for yourself?

Inspired to visit Rochester Castle?

There’s much more to see & do in the town – have at look at our ‘10 reasons to unearth Rochester‘ post for more inspiration.

Why not check out the latest deals on Booking.Com?
The Kings’ footsteps, Rochester Castle, Kent, England

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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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