The great keep of Rochester Castle towers over the River Medway, dominating the skyline together with its striking twin, the magnificent cathedral.
Rochester Castle is 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. 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 a chequered history, having been subjected to siege three times and in 1215 partly demolished by King John, who gained entry by undermining the south-east 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 model has been installed in the castle’s chapel showing how the castle would have looked in the 14th century.
For a guided tour, an audio guide interpretation is available at a nominal charge of £1 and is available in English, French, German and Dutch.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Get involved in your local history! Volunteer with Medway Heritage
Medway Council’s Heritage Service cares for some of Medway’s most iconic historic sites and its archive. We are currently looking for volunteers to help us deliver exciting activities at these exceptional venues. No previous experience is necessary. Full training for all opportunities will be given. For further information contact [email protected]
Kent Children's University
Rochester Castle is a Learning Destination for the Kent Children’s University
Rochester Castle has recently become an approved “Public Learning Destination” for Kent Children’s University™. This means that we are authorised to issue Learning Credits in participating children’s Passports to Learning. Learning activities include our trails, seasonal trails, and craft activities.
What is Kent Children’s University™?
Kent Children’s University™ (KCU) is part of an international charity that provides 5 to 14 year olds with access to exciting and innovative CU Learning Activities and experiences outside the normal school day. They reward children’s participation in voluntary learning activities that will develop their skills and raise aspirations for the future.
Like Kent Children’s University™ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KentChildrensUniversity) or Follow them on Twitter (@K_C_U)
Daily 10am to 6pm from 1 April to 30 September.
10am to 4pm from 1 to 31 October.
Last admission is 45 minutes before closing.
Historic city location