Rochester Guildhall Museum
Please note: Visitors to the Guildhall Museum are currently being asked to provide their contact details for the purposes of Track and Trace. Face coverings must also be worn on entry. Castle staff will also be wearing face masks for everyone's safety.
The Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest 17th Century civic buildings in Kent.
Its staircase and main hall have magnificent plaster ceilings, given in 1695 by Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, who was the Member of Parliament for the city of Rochester at the time. Outside, mounted on the roof, is an amazing weather vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th-century warship. This is 1.52m tall and weighs just under 51kg. It is made of gilded copper and lead alloy and has weathered the ever-changing climate since 1780.
The museum was founded in 1897, in honour of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. It was first set up in Eastgate House further along the High Street and was moved into the Guildhall in 1979.
The collections follow a timeline through Medway's history and are housed at the museum along with a gift shop. Highlights of the displays include:
- a full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk;
- a 200,000 year-old axe that visitors can touch;
- a wide range of domestic artefacts from Darenth Roman villa;
- the most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker's tools in the world;
- a model of Rochester Castle under siege;
- a large selection of paintings and prints of the area.
IMPORTANT NOTICE WHEN VISITING THE MUSEUM!
Your safety is our top priority, and we have been working hard to make sure you, and our staff, enjoy a safe and comfortable environment.
Our new measures
- No pre-bookings – visitors will need queue outside the museum under the collonaded area if needed.
- Visitors will need to provide contacts details (name and phone number) to staff on entry as part of the Governments Test and Trace system.
- Face coverings must also be worn on entry. Castle staff will also be wearing face masks for everyone's safety.
- We will be restricting visits to four or five household groups at any one time.
- We will be operating a one way system around the museum – so if visitors want to buy gifts in the shop they need to do this at the beginning likewise with use of the toilets.
- Toilets will be open to visitors of the museum only.
- Visitors will be asked to wash hands on entry and exit from the keep - we will provide sanitiser for this.
- Households will need to stay as part of one group and will be asked to wait in designated waiting areas if there is anyone else on the spiral staircase.
- Regular cleaning regime throughout the day
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
In 2020 commemorates 150 years since the death of one of England's greatest novelist.
Our plans for celebrating everything linked to Dickens this year has unfortunately been put on hold due to Covid-19. The Making of Mr Dickens exhibition mentioned below will be still going ahead but the official opening date is still to be announced.
The Making of Mr Dickens
As part of Dickens 150, an exciting new permanent exhibition on Charles Dickens. This immersive and exciting experience explores the man behind the stories. From his childhood days in Chatham through to his life as a global phenomenon in the splendour of Gads Hill Place. You’ll be taken on the journey that made Charles Dickens the sensation we know today.
Reopening on Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Conference / Meeting facilities
Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Registered Assistance Dogs welcome
Our Support Services
Virtual Dickens 150