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Rochester Castle

Heritage and Gardens
Heritage and Gardens

View of Rochester Castle from Boley Hill

Strategically placed astride the London Road, guarding an important crossing of the River Medway, this imposing fortress has a complex history of destruction and rebuilding. Today it stands as a proud reminder of the history of Rochester, along with the cathedral and cobbled streets.


In 1087 Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester began the construction of the castle. One of William the Conqueror’s greatest architects, he was also responsible for the Tower of London. Much of what you see remaining of the walled perimeter remains intact from that time. William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury was also a contributor to this grand castle building project. Henry I granted him custody of the castle in 1127, a responsibility that lasted until King John seized the castle in 1215.

In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured an epic siege by King John. Having first undermined the outer wall, John used the fat of 40 pigs to fire a mine under the keep, bringing its southern corner crashing down. Even then the defenders held on, until they were eventually starved out after resisting for two months.

Rochester Castle remains one of the most impressive Norman fortresses and continues to attract visitors from far and wide. 

A trip to Rochester Castle will now be an experience for all of your senses.

From Thursday, 14 September, three smelling stations will be installed at the Norman castle.

The smelling stations will give visitors the chance to step back in time and get an even better sense of what the historic building would have been like hundreds of years ago.

Visitors will be able to get a whiff of the food store. This was one of the most important rooms in the castle and would have been filled with fish, poultry, cheese, herbs and spices as well as ale and wine.

Moving on to the chapel, you can expect strong incense smells like myrrh, ambergris, cinnamon, saffron, rosemary and more. This smell sensation is inspired by 11th century medieval manuscripts.

The last stop is the cess pit, which is definitely one for braver visitors. This is where all of the castle’s waste, both human and animal, would have ended up – so be prepared!

Siege of Rochester Castle 

In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured an epic siege by King John.

In this short film we learn more about this siege and why we now have one round tower and three square ones

Support Services


  • Adults: £7.70
  • Children (5-17 yrs): £3.40
  • Concessions: £5.60
  • Family (2 adults, 2 children): £19.95
  • English Heritage Members and Under 5's: Free


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Castle Hill, Rochester


Opening Times

Tuesday to Sunday, between 10am and 4pm, with last admission 45 minutes before closing. Closed Mondays except on Bank Holiday Mondays.

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