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Live Interpretation at Rochester Castle 2023

9th April - 27th August 2023

Take a trip back in time, with immersive live interpretations at Rochester Castle, detailing significant historical moments.

Easter in the castle – 9 April

Meet Simon Dakin as he describes how much religion, and the cathedral governed their lives. What it was like to live through the privations of Lent. Hear how Easter was such a popular time of year, with the celebrations, feasting, and the Mummers plays.     

Peasants Revolt – 16 April

Come and learn about one of the greatest uprisings in Kentish history, sparked by the socio-economic and political tensions that arose following the infamous ‘Black Death’ of the 14th Century. The tale of the revolt comes to life, as you delve into the journey of 60,000 bricky peasants, as they rise up against Richard II and his advisors in a bid to claim higher wages and better working conditions, amidst the crippling poll tax and ‘Statute of Labourers’ law that threatened the livelihoods of the lucky few that survived the Bubonic plague.

The Plague – 28 May

Meet William de la Dene, a notary (qualified lawyer) working in The Cathedral Prior who was attributed with writing The Historia Roffensis – a biographical chronicle that describes the torrid history of Rochester between 1317 and 1354. Listen to the terrible and tragic story of how the Black Death struck the city of Rochester in 1348, killing so many that relatives had to bury their loved ones in mass graves, leaving the population in a state of turmoil.


King John – 1 June

Relive the ferocious siege of Rochester Castle by King John in 1215, as the monarch attempted to retake the castle from rebel forces containing knights, crossbowmen and soldiers; detailing the destruction caused by the stone, fire, machinery and the 40 pigs utilised by the royal army.

Better yet, after immersing yourself in this experience, follow up by attending ‘The Siege’ on 30 July, which gives the perspective of the battle from a helpless child stuck within the castle walls.

King John at Rochester Castle

Children in the Castle – 25 June

Meet the son of the Constable of the Castle, who will give an immersive account of his childhood in the castle during the 14th Century. He’ll shed light on the details of his education, his duties, the other children who lived and worked within the castle. Better yet, he’ll tell a chilling tale of his experience of being at the heart of the peasant’s revolt, during which Rochester rose up against the monarchy and his gluttonous advisors.

The pen is mightier than the sword23 July

The 14th Century was a golden age of handwritten books, just before the innovation of the Printing Press in the 15th Century, which saw an end to the art and guile of mastering calligraphy, writing and book making. However, at Rochester Castle, you can witness this skill come back to life, in a live book making demonstration that will have you questioning why you ever wanted a Kindle.

The siege – 30 July

It is 1215, and whilst we may be entering the golden age of book making, this tale is one you can’t simply read about. Listen to the childhood experience of a terrified infant, confined in the castle during the siege by King John and his band of Barons; as he wallows in telling you how the city was ransacked, the Medway bridge destroyed, the castle attacked, and the rebellion destroyed - leading to the French king reigning supreme and subsequently capturing the castle. This experience becomes all the more enthralling when accompanied by our earlier experience, taking place on 1 June, which gives the perspective of the merciless monarch, King John. 

Knight templar – 6 August

Have you heard the myths and legends of the Crusading force? Well, after this experience… you’ll never forget. These legendary soldiers protected the holy lands and the pilgrims who travelled upon them – earning the templars vast wealth and power until their suppression in 1307, where our experience is set. Finally, hear how the crusaders dissolved after accusations of fraud, financial corruption and secrecy and led to the immediate arrest and seizure of all assets of the templars.

The Master Mason – 13 August

The story of King John’s infamous siege continues - this time, years after the original destruction the French King inflicted, as we hear from the son of a master mason, employed by Henry III to continue the repairs to the castle. The mason’s son will dive into the craft and abilities honed by a master mason at the time, detailing how castles are structured and built to be able to defend against invaders; but also, why this castle took particularly long to repair after the siege.      

Meet Queen Isabella & Roger Mortimer20 August

From infidelity and an affair to an invasion and despair. Listen to the story of Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, whose story is Shakespearean in terms of its twists, turns and tragedy. Find out how Isabella, the wife of Edward II, led an invasion of England with Roger Mortimer in 1326, against her husband following tensions surrounding his potential love for Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall.    

The Dissolution of the Priory – 27 August

Let us set the scene – The period is around 1536, and Henry VIII is in dispute with the Pope, throwing the fate of all 800 Priories, Monasteries and Abbeys in the country up into air. It is a period of religious turmoil. Eventually, Henry VIII succeeds, shattering the religious landscape of the country by closing all of the previously mentioned Catholic estate in just four years’ time. Find out from a Prior residing from St’ Andrews how this led to permanent changes in the country’s politics, society, economics and religious beliefs as a whole. Furthermore, find out the fate of the church here and how the thousands of monks, nuns, friars and monistic servants’ lives were forever changed following the dissolution.

Meet Medway's Monarchs

There's a chance to meet Medway's monarchs that have paid us visits over the centuries at our heritage sites.

Queen Elizabeth I at Upnor Castle - Tuesday, 30 May

King James I at Eastgate House - Wednesday, 31 May

King John at Rochester Castle - Thursday, 1 June.

Tickets and Pricing

Normal admission fees apply, for details visit Rochester Castle page. 

Days and times

  • Tuesdays to Sundays
    10am - 4pm
    Closing 6pm from April. Last admission 45 minutes before closing



Castle Hill, Rochester ME1 1SW

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