Rochester Castle Castles
The great keep of Rochester Castle towers over the River Medway and by its side, an inseparable twin, the magnificent cathedral shares and dominates the skyline.
Rochester Castle is known as one of the best preserved and finest examples of Norman architecture in England. Its great keep, square, massive and one of the tallest in the country, measures 113 feet high, 70 feet square and has walls 12 feet thick in places.
It was on, or close to, the present castle site that the Romans built their first fort to guard the bridge carrying their legions over the river on their way from Dover to London and beyond. Some centuries later, in 1087, Bishop Gundulf one of William the Conqueror's finest architects began the construction of today's castle, making use of what remained of the original Roman city walls. The great keep was built by William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Henry I granted custody of the castle in 1127.
The castle has had a chequered history, having been three times subjected to siege and was partly demolished in 1215 by King John, who gained entry by undermining the south-west tower, using the fat from 40 pigs to set fire to the pit props. Today, visitors can see the rebuilt round tower, contrasting with the square towers of the original Norman castle.
A new model has been installed in the castle's chapel showing how the castle would have looked in the 14th century. For a personal guided tour of the castle, a sound wand interpretation is available at a nominal charge of £1.
Address, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SX
Opening times10am - 6pm
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