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 Castles of England - Rochester Castle

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Rochester, Kent, England

Standing on the eastern bank of the River Medway, Rochester Castle is situated 30 miles south east of London in the centre of the town.

The castle is considered to be one of the most well preserved of its kind in England. The great square keep is over 113 feet high with walls over ten feet thick in places, there is also a reconstructed three quarter round tower and a chapel. Some of the walls still display decorative carvings on the archways there is also still evidence of water well.

The castle is open daily all year round from 10am until 6pm from April until September and until 4pm October to March.

The castle offers visitors the opportunity to climb to the top of the keep and walk along the battlements for an impressive view of the river and the countryside beyond. For visitors who prefer to keep their feet on the ground an audio tour guide is available outlining the castle's history, as well as a visit to a model displayed in the chapel depicting how the castle would have looked in the 14th century.

The grounds of Rochester have well maintained gardens and a promenade with its very own bandstand.

The first Norman motte and bailey castle was built for the Earl of Kent, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux on the site of an earlier Roman fortification. The castle consisted of a wooden tower and fence which was soon rebuilt in stone after being besieged in 1088. The castle was granted to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William de Corbeil, by Henry I, and he was responsible for building the strong stone keep in 1127.

King John had repairs made to the castle and moat, and presumed his right to take occupancy prior to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The terms did not meet his expectations and so he was forced to hand it back to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He did not give up and later that year besieged the castle in person, his forces quickly took and held the bailey and then focused their attentions on the keep and by the end of November the castle was surrendered; although due to starvation of those inside not due to force.

After the death of King John the following year Henry III took over the castle and effected repairs including the rebuilding of the south east tower in a three quarter round design and improvements which including adding another ditch, building stables, Royal apartments and a chapel. In 1264 the castle once again came under siege; however this time the forces led by Baron Simon de Montfort were only able to burn down some of the buildings and not undermine the keep. Following the invention of gunpowder and cannon; against which the castle could not offer protection, the castle was abandoned.

Rochester Castle is now under the care of English Heritage.

Other Castles in the Area
  Allington Castle, Kent
  Cooling Castle, Kent
  Eynsford Castle, Kent
  Hadleigh Castle, Essex
  Hever Castle, Kent
  Leeds Castle, Kent
  Upnor Castle, Kent

Upnor Castle
Rochester Castle

Photograph by Christine Matthews. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Upnor Castle
Rochester Castle keep

Photograph by Paul Gillett. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Upnor Castle
Rochester: castle interior

Photograph by Chris Downer. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

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