Latest visitor news
Published: 6 March 2023
An incredible 13m long table made from fossilised wood is coming to Rochester Cathedral from the 3rd March. The Fenland Black Oak Table was made to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and is made of the nation’s rarest and most precious hardwood – black oak.
In 2012, a giant black oak tree was found in a field in Wissington Fen, East Anglia. A 13.2m long section of a tree was discovered deep in the peat. It had laid undisturbed for 5000 years. It is believed the tree would have been an immense 55 metres tall when it was alive. For comparison, present day oak trees are around 20 metres.
For ten years a team of privately funded specialist crafts people worked to create a stunning sculptured table from the 5000-year-old wood. Allowing this incredible tree to be preserved in perpetuity for future generations to admire and use.
Leading the Fenland Black Oak Project to create the table has been Hamish Low. The creation of this table could not have happened without the generosity of private donors, local businesses, charitable foundations and trusts.
Hamish Low says “We are truly grateful to all those who have funded this project. In addition to the support that has come from The Building Crafts College in Stratford, London, who not only allowed the use of their workshop facilities but encouraged students from their cabinet making and woodworking courses to get involved.”
Rochester Cathedral is only the second venue to display the table. It is currently at Ely Cathedral where it was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal. The vast table will be on display in the Nave for a year from the 3rd March 2023. It will usually be in the Nave aisles but the Cathedral has plans for it to be moved into the central Nave at times through the year.
Visitors will be able to feel the table and marvel at the incredible craftsmanship which has gone into preserving the table. Alongside the table will be panels detailing the history of black oak and the ten-year project to turn the wood into a functioning table.
Rochester Cathedral is keen to make sure the table does not just become something to look at. They want as many people as possible to use the table. The table was created to be a “Table for the Nation”.
Throughout the year a programme of events using the table will take place. Schools and families will be encouraged to use the table for activities exploring both the incredible tree and the history of the Cathedral. People will even be able to have dinners on the table if they wish to hire it for the evening. The public are encouraged to get in touch with the Cathedral if they have ideas of how they would like to use the table.
Dean of Rochester, The Very Rev'd Dr Philip Hesketh AKC DL says ‘We feel so very privileged to be hosting this remarkable table in the Cathedral. It is an amazing piece of craftsmanship which brings to life a distant part of our past when trees were towering giants’.
Published: 15 February 2023 Media Release
Founded in 1873, Rochester Choral Society is celebrating its 150th anniversary in March 2023 with a newly-commissioned choral work, Regards from Rochester, by award-winning British composer, and Rochester resident, Thomas Hewitt-Jones. The work receives its premiere on 18 March 2023 in Rochester Cathedral.
Rochester itself is drenched in history. Regards from Rochester celebrates the rich history of the Medway Towns, exploring themes and valuable human stories while relating them to contemporary society. From the first Saxon settlement through to historic stronghold, from pillar of British naval history through to industrial centre and inspiration for Charles Dickens, composer Thomas Hewitt Jones hopes that this “postcard from Rochester” will celebrate and exude compassion for our planet, social conscience, humanity and kindness – values that are incredibly important to our world in 2023.
Click here to read the full media release.
Tickets for the Rochester Cathedral concerts are available online.
An introduction to 'Regards to Rochester' music can be viewed on this short video.
Published 12 February 2023
The latest large-scale immersive artwork at Rochester Cathedral is now open. Peace Doves is made up of around fifteen thousand individually handmade paper doves which are suspended above the Nave. It is an artwork by Peter Walker Sculptor. It brings a message of peace and hope as the doves collectively form a beautiful artwork which as a whole reflects joining together in unity, peace and hope moving forward.
Over the past few months, thousands of visitors have written their own messages onto paper doves at the Cathedral. These doves are now part of the artwork.
The project has gone beyond Rochester Cathedral itself. Over 60 schools across the South East have signed up to create their own Peace Dove displays at school.
As well as viewing Peace Doves during the day, Rochester Cathedral is holding events in the evening. These begin on the 14th February with a special Valentine’s Day event under a romantic flock of paper doves. They will also welcome local busker, Jordan Ravenhill on the 18th February who is performing at Rochester Cathedral for the first time. A Ukrainian Cultural Event will be held on 24th February marking the 1st anniversary of the war in Ukraine. More events will take place during March and April.
Peace Doves is an artwork that has been re-curated for different spaces as it tours the UK. Adaptations have been seen in many Cathedrals including Liverpool, Lichfield, Derby and Sheffield.
The Very Rev'd Dr Philip Hesketh says ‘In a world of constant conflict the need to work and pray for peace should be central to our lives. This artwork provides a visible expression for our hopes and dreams for a better world.’
Throughout history the dove has been viewed as a symbol of peace in many different cultures. For example in Greek mythology the dove is a symbol of the renewal of life, and liturgically within the Bible the dove appears at the Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordon and in the teachings of Noah and the Ark as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Rochester Cathedral would like to thank Rochester Riverside Community Fund for their support of this event.
Peace Doves is now open until the 18th April. Admission is free during the day with charges applying for special events and groups. Visitors are encouraged to share images using the hashtag #peacedoves
Find out more at www.rochestercathedral.org/peacedoves
For the full media release, click here.
Published 20 January 2023 - Media Release
An eagerly awaited warbird has arrived in the hangar of the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPSL) Ltd on Rochester Airport. Hawker Hurricane IIB BH238 was originally manufactured by Gloster Aircraft Company at Brockworth in Gloucestershire in early 1942, as part of a batch numbered BH215 to BH264.
First delivered to No. 52 Maintenance Unit (MU) at Pengham Moors, Cardiff, it was dismantled ready for packing before transportation to Russia. Leaving the UK on 26 January 1942 it may have travelled to Russia via Arctic convoy PQ9 or PQ11 arriving at Murmansk in February 1942. No information is available relating to its Russian service but the skeletal remains of the aircraft arrived back in the UK and taken to Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight around 2000. It went on display at the now closed Frontline Aviation Museum on the island before arriving in the workshop of MAPSL where it will undergo restoration before going on display at an unknown destination.
1,884 Hurricane Mk.IIBs were sent or handed over to Russia but before this the Hawker Hurricane was the mainstay aircraft in the Battle of Britain, there being more squadrons of this type than the Spitfire. Its construction of metal, wood and canvas allowed it to take more punishment than the Spitfire and although slower in speed, many pilots preferred to fly this type in combat. After the Battle of Britain a change of policy at the Air Ministry dictated that the Spitfire was to be the main attacking aircraft for the Luftwaffe escort Messerschmitt 109s whilst the Hurricane was to attack the enemy bomber formations.
A dedicated team of MAPSL will now begin the task of making sure that this icon of the Second World War and of the war in Russia will take its place in the history of the Royal Air Force.
Robin J Brooks. PR-Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPSL) Ltd.