Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Medway => Topic started by: kyn on December 01, 2008, 14:51:32

Title: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on December 01, 2008, 14:51:32
Here is some info I put together on Rochester Castle, a very nice place in the Summer with beautiful views of the River Medway.

The site of Rochester Castle has been the site of fortifications for hundreds of years - the oldest remains are from the Roman era. The Roman Fort was built to protect the legions on their travels from Dover to London and beyond. 1087 saw a new castle built on this site by Bishop Gundulf, a popular architect of William the Conqueror, Bishop Gundulf made use of the Roman City walls when carrying out these works by using them as the base of the new walls, by doing this he preserved them for us all to see at the western curtain wall. William de Corbeil, the Archbishop of Canterbury, built the castle keep. King Henry granted custody of the castle to de Corbeil in 1127, the keep is 113 feet high, 70 feet square and the walls in places are 12 feet thick, showing the strength of the building. It is one of the largest castles in the country. The castle consisted of three floors built above a basement, the front of the castle has a protruding fore building that is accessed from the first floor and this provided extra protection for the castle.
 
The castle has suffered three sieges, the first in 1215 by King John after it had been taken by rebel barons. King John had previously spent £115 on repairing the castle before being forced to hand it over to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, in May of the same year due to the terms of the Magna Carta. John interrupted the rebels reinforcements by sending fireships to burn their route to the castle, he then emptied the adjacent cathedral of anything of value and stabled his horses inside. He sent word to Canterbury saying: "We order you, just as you love us, and as soon as you see this letter, to make by day and night, all the pickaxes, that you can. Every blacksmith in your city should stop all other work in order to make them and send them to us at Rochester with all speed". Work was then started to undermine the curtain walls, this proved successful and they took the bailey in early November. From here they began to undermine the keep, in particular the southeast tower. The tunnel roof was supported by wooden pit props and it was decided to burn these using fat from forty pigs, to accomplish this John sent a writ on the 25th November to the Justiciars, saying: "Send to us with all speed by day and night, forty of the fattest pigs of the sort least good for eating so that we may bring fire beneath the castle".
 
The fire caused the tower to collapse, making the rebels retreat further inside. King John allowed a few rebels to leave but lopped off their hands and feet as punishment. Community Service obviously hadn't been in fashion in those days! The rebels held the castle for two months in total before surrendering due to starvation, John set up a memorial for the pigs and gallows to hang the rebels. The rebels were spared when one of the Kings captains, Savari de Maulea, talked him out of it, his reasoning was that if the King killed them all for surrendering then had the King needed to surrender in the future he could be hung also. King Henry III repaired the castle the following year, he spent over ?1000 building new stables, gateways, a further ditch and a new chapel. The southeastern tower was rebuilt to the latest defensive design which was three-quarters round making it stand out from the three remaining square towers.
 
The second siege was in 1264 by the dissident barons, led by Simon de Montfort. After crossing the River Medway hidden by the smoke of a fireship they undermined the curtain wall and took the bailey, they then attempted to undermine the keep, as had previously happened but were unsuccessful. The siege lasted but a week and resulted in the Royal chambers and other surrounding buildings being burnt down. Repairs to the castle were not carried out for over one hundred years. In 1367 under King Edward III's reign, a lot of the stone from the castle had been removed by this time and reused elsewhere, Upnor Castle was one of many buildings that were built using this stone. The third siege was by Thomas Wyatt's men although the castle was considered obsolete by this time, 1554, due to the invention of gunpowder and the introduction of cannon making the castle less secure. The building soon fell into disrepair and began to deteriorate. More repairs were made around 1872 and work has been carried out since to preserve this Scheduled Ancient Monument for all to see.

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Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: splashdown on December 03, 2008, 19:36:25
Talking to my father, When he was a child he can remember a tunnel starting in the third arch in the esplanade under the castle running somewhere. True or not?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on December 03, 2008, 20:14:44
Talking to my father, When he was a child he can remember a tunnel starting in the third arch in the esplanade under the castle running somewhere. True or not?
Not heard of that one from the Esplanade before.

I've heard of a rumour of a tunnel going either from the moat opposite the cathedral (where there used to be houses) and i think i heard of another rumour theres one from the buildings on castle Hill.

I know there are suppose to be some tunnel(s) in the castle grounds as a workman found them when they were resurfacing one of the paths yea
rs ago.

But there isn't any tunnels mentioned in any of the guide books ??? (apart from the one in the siege)  so maybe it's a later addition,used for storage or something.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on December 03, 2008, 22:15:16
I read somewhere there was a tunnel under the castle used for storing ammo  
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on December 03, 2008, 22:38:18
There was originally a shaft in the Northwest Bastion where the 1872 entrance from the Esplanade was cut.
The shaft was either for lifting supplies from the river or a Garderobe. (toilet shoot)
It was rediscovered again in 1956 when repair work was carried out.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on April 06, 2009, 17:24:28
Here's a photo i took on Rochester Bridge the other day  :)

(http://www.medwaylines.com/April%2009/P4050219.JPG)


Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on April 07, 2009, 16:27:22
Found this snippet of info about the Castle.

Walker Weldon,whose family received the estate from James I,began to dismantle the Keep,selling it's timbers to the builders of the Brewhouse and it's stone to a firm of Masons.
In 1738 all that remained was offered to a local paviour.
The estate then passed to the family of the Earls of Jersey from whom the Rochester Corporation took a lease in 1870,buying the Freehold fourteen years later.

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on July 16, 2009, 19:54:47
Friday, 17 November, 1871

The mining operations on the North West bastion of Rochester castle, where a new entrance is being made into the castle gardens from the Esplanade, were succesfully continued yesterday by the Royal Engineers. Under Captain Merriman and Lieutenant Johnson, charges having been fired on the outer face which tore out considerable portions of the hard stone and stone-like mortar. Though the charges were purposely small eight onces each of gun-cotton, showers and large fragments of stone were hurled some distance, and one, rebounding, split a balustrade on the river front of the Esplanade. It was necessary to keep the spectators at a good distance.

From The Times.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on July 16, 2009, 20:47:19
Friday, November 24th, 1871.

Some charges of gunpowder having been used yesterday against the obstinate Norman wall of Rochester castle,which the Royal Engineers are perforating a new entrance. Some interesting results have been obtained, showing the relative powers of gun-cotton and gunpowder in doing such work. One charge yesterday of 2lb of gunpowder dislodged a large mass of the wall,sending a shower of fragments a long distance,some into the Medway,and making a large cavity in the wall. The powder, allowing for the calculated relative strengths of the two explosive agents (more powder than gun-cotton being used), appeared to be the more destructive. But,besides blowing down so much of the wall, the powder loosened much more of the surrounding parts than the charges of gun-cotton did. This proves the advantage of the gun-cotton being used where masonry is to be destroyed but surrounding masonry is to be preserved, as will be the case at Rochester, as the upper part of the bastion wall over the archway to be constructed is to remain, and gun-cotton will be used at that part. A large quantity of the wall on both faces has now been blown out.

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on July 30, 2009, 20:32:59
A full-dress rehearsal of the Rochester Historical Pageant,June 19, 1931.
The photograph shows the presentation of an episode depicting Queen Elizabeth's visit to Rochester in 1573.
(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/RochesterCastle.png)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on October 21, 2009, 23:39:43
(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/RochesterCastleOct21.jpg)
Image from Bygone Medway,Volume 3.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: seafordpete on October 22, 2009, 09:05:22
I know there are suppose to be some tunnel(s) in the castle grounds as a workman found them when they were resurfacing one of the paths years ago.



That was about 1956, I can remember it being in the KM. We lived at Borstal then and used to roam as far as the castle, we spent hours mooching about hoping to find the tunnels after it was in the paper. Pete
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Merv on February 17, 2010, 22:35:57
Does anyone recall the old Rochester Castle Fete's pre Carnival days.
They were the highlight of the year as I recall, very well supported too.
I remember events such has Bowling for a pig, knock the Lady out of Bed(no I was'nt dreaming)
always finished with one of the top local Bands playing also.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: karlostg on March 01, 2010, 13:10:18
Following the heavy rain this weekend part of the wall has collapsed, see Medway Messenger site
http://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway_messenger/news/2010/march/1/wall_collapses_at_castle.aspx (http://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway_messenger/news/2010/march/1/wall_collapses_at_castle.aspx)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on April 26, 2010, 10:50:27
Just below the main Castle Gardens, above the Esplanade, is a Foot Walk built in 1829 of Kentish Ragstone.

(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/CastleWalkApri231.jpg)

It was ordered that "The Chamberlain do pay one hundred pounds as the subscription of the Corporation towards raising a dwarf wall of Kentish Rag Stone from the Bridge Steps to Ladbury's Quay and making a Foot Walk under the Castle Cliff and for upholding and maintaining the present ornamental Ruin of the Castle Wall and Yarmouth Tower."

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(http://i232.photobucket.com/albums/ee257/mercury1923/CastleWalkApri233.jpg)

The sheer wall, with seating alcoves replaced the ivy clad chalk cliff. Later, rubble was added to build up the Esplanade, and Balustrades from the mediaeval Rochester Bridge after it had been demolished by the Royal Engineers in 1857.

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on July 22, 2010, 23:21:58
Somewhere I have photos of a Viking Night attack on the castle in the late 980s.  Unfortunately there was a 1 in front of the 9, was the late 1980s!!!
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on September 01, 2010, 16:31:11
Me and my son decided to spend the last day of his summer holidays at Rochester - where the cathedral is free  :)
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Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on September 02, 2010, 21:00:46
Looking back over topic and notice a nice old postcard photo from Merc. which is dated 26th April (a very good date! my birthday) recalled to mind a postcard I have.  Wonder if anyone can tell me what the machines are - I wonder if they may be weighing machines.  No doubt someone out there will know.
Ann

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Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: seafordpete on September 03, 2010, 09:37:28
LHS weighing machine, RHS chocolate or cigarette machine
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: DoverDan on December 11, 2010, 20:32:27
Two aerial views of Rochester castle and surrounding builings both from July 1948.

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Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: MOK on December 11, 2010, 21:09:46
Surprised me to learn and see houses and gardens in the moat.

Do I spy a Shorts Sunderland on the bank at the top of the first picture ??
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on December 11, 2010, 22:24:56
And is that the Rochester polce station at the bottom of Epaul Lane that some members were trying to find the location of a few months back?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: MOK on December 11, 2010, 22:29:12
It certainly is.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: peterchall on December 11, 2010, 22:34:52
The large 'field' above the castle in the first picture (its corner can be seen again in the second picture) was about 3 ft below its surroundings and was completely flooded during the war to make what must have been the biggest Emergency Water Supply (EWS) in the area. I knew the path that went right round it as the 'tow-path'; I don't know why, because it can't have had the usual use of a tow-path - to tow barges on a canal.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Rochester-bred on February 24, 2011, 11:27:32
I came across a lovely picture of Rochester castle on this site below with the cathedral and the houses in what we call the moat also the shorts plane, not sure how to put a picture on here so best for people to look on the site.

http://www.historickent.com/bygone.html
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on February 24, 2011, 19:03:58
There are some great old pictures of Rochester Castle from the 1860s in the Royal Engineers' Library.

Photograph reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum http://www.re-museum.co.uk
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5017/5474474848_718cc6bf7a_z.jpg)

Photograph reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum http://www.re-museum.co.uk
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5215/5474512626_e3a8e89c47_z.jpg)

Photograph reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum http://www.re-museum.co.uk
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5135/5473929013_f576e30dcc_z.jpg)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on February 25, 2011, 20:08:58
Some photos after a visit yesterday with my son  :)
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Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: alkhamhills on February 25, 2011, 20:42:09
This is how Rochester Castle was rebuilt down here in llanharran South Wales for the film Ironclad

http://ironcladfilm.blogspot.com/
  Wonder how it will match up with the real thing
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: LewisE on March 01, 2011, 18:12:52
I really liked my day in Rochester  :)

The top of the tower was the best bit of the castle.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on November 27, 2011, 18:36:47
Taken from History of County of Kent by WH Ireland 1830

In 1225 the great ditch about this city is reported to have been begun, and in 1284 Solomon de Roffa had the kingís licence to build about and on the walls of Rochester, and to hold the buildings for free.
The city has no gates at present but the names of several are on record, viz. Broadgate afterwards called Eastgate, which stood in the high street, a great part having remained in the reign  of Henry VIII when Leland wrote, by whom it  is styled a marvellous strong gate, who adds that no more gates appeared than were commonly used.  Southgate was near Bully hill, on the road to St Margaretís, the arch of which was taken down in 1770. there was another gate as appears by the Registrum Roffense, called Childegate which seems to have been in the north wall of the city, lading to the marshes, that part of the wall being called from it Childegate wall, and the lane in which it stood, opposite the college gate, Chidegate lane.  In the Textus Roffenis there is also mention made of a gate beyond the bridge.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kevin payne on November 29, 2011, 21:35:10
hi ann,thats very interesting,thankyou for that.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on January 12, 2012, 10:16:57
(http://i764.photobucket.com/albums/xx284/annclaydon/scan0013-2.jpg)

Postcard dated 1918.  The sender writes that she saw some men swimming in the Medway!
Anyone know what happened to the monument on the left?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Rochester-bred on January 12, 2012, 11:39:25
The monument was for Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887,  The memorial was sited near the top of the steps from the Esplanade. It was a very ornate memorial though sadly it was made of very soft stone which succumbed rapidly to erosian by rain, frost. etc. By the Second World War very little remained of it. The last time I have heard of it being seen was in the 1950s , so after slowly crumbling away it must of been removed .
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Far away on January 13, 2012, 09:03:25
Is that the remains of the monument in the second 1948 picture, a stumpy looking thing?

And my question is - is there still a monument to the pigs?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Fred the Needle on January 13, 2012, 10:30:12
I really liked my day in Rochester  :)

The top of the tower was the best bit of the castle.

Pardon me for asking, but I left Kent in 1989 and I thought the Keep had been declared unsafe since then so people couldn't go up it.  Does that mean that I was given duff info or that it's been repaired?

I have NEVER been up the keep in my life - one of the disadvantages of having lived so near it for 35 years  :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Longpockets on January 13, 2012, 13:26:42
Fred the Needle,

The keep is currently open under the management of EH via Medway Council. Not sure how long it has been open as a structure but I have lived in the area for about 23 years and to my knowledge it has always been so. There are others on the forum who are more knowledgeable on this than me, I am sure they will advise you. It is currently under threat of colapse due to it not having a roof which allows the full force of the elements to play havoc with it, such a shame. It would be a magnificent place to visit if were possible to install floors and roof, one only has to see the keep at Dover to see what can be achieved if those who have charge of it had the MONEY ( same old thing these days ) and the where with all to take the restoration through. It is such an important piece of architectural history that it should not be lost.

Regards
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: seafordpete on January 13, 2012, 13:47:02
It was open in 1952-3ish, I can remember going there
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on January 13, 2012, 14:13:54
The keep is open, it could be that when it was mentioned it was closed for repairs or something?  LewisE has been dragged up it many times :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: rochester1 on January 13, 2012, 14:34:36
With regard to; Rochester Gates and Anns excellent article, I would like to mention one of the most popular and most photographed gates in the 'City'. This is, as recorded by the well known historian Edwin Harris; 'The gate with four names.' That is to say the arch with a dwelling above on Rochester High Street which leads to Rochester Cathedral.  In modern times the most popular of the names is College Gate; a name which will be found on many postcards, or Jaspers Gate. The true name though is Chertseys Gate as recorded in Kelly's.

Chertseys Gate. This name came from a local gentleman Edward Chertsey who took part in what has become to be known as 'Jack Cades Rebellion' of 1450. The patent roll of Henry V1 contains the names of many hundreds of Cades followers (or John Mortimer as he was also known) among which is Chertsey. Edmund of Rochester; the same of Headcorn. The rebellion came to an end when Cades followers quarrelled over the plunder.
'Cade fled but was taken at Heathfield in Sussex when his body was brought to the council. His head was struck from his body which was quartered.One quarter was sent to Blackheath, a second to Norwich, a third to Salisbury and the fourth to Gloucester. The quarters of one of his followers named Nocholas Jakes, were sent to Chichester, Rochester, Portsmouth and Colchester.'
On Cades flight the Lord Chancellor went to Rochester; 'for the tranquility andgood government of the King, and for the seizure of certain goods.' There was £105-15-00 in cash, and goods produced anothr £274- 8-4 out of which~
£40 was given to the citizens and bailiffs of Rochester to make the East Gate of that city toward Canterbury.

College Gate. When HenryV111 dissolved the Monastry of St Andrew which was collegiate as well as parochial, he refounded  the college under the name King Henry V111 Grammer School. To reach the college it was necessary to pass under Chertseys Gate via what is now College Yard. The Gate thereafter took the name of College Gate.

Cemetery Gate. Because it led to the burial ground of St Andrews Priory.

Jaspers Gate. Charles Dickens immortalised this Gatehouse in his unfinished novel; The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
within which book was the character John Jasper. Dickens  described it thus;
'They all three look towards an old stone Gatehouse crossing the Close with an arched thorouhfare passing beneath it. Through the window a fire shines out upon the fast darkening scene, involving in shadow the pendant masses of ivy and creeper covering the buildings front. As the deep  Cathedral bell strikes the hour, a ripple of wind goes through these at their distance, like the ripple of the solemn sound that hums through tomb and tower, broken niche and defaced statue, in the pile close at hand.'
'Is Mr Jaspers nephew with him?' The Dean asks.
'No Sir' replied the Verger, 'but expected. Theres his own solitary shadow between the two windows-this one looking this way- the other looking down into the High Street- drawing his own curtains now.'

A mention of this gatehouse would not be complete without a mention of the Bakers oven door which can be found set into the wall under the arch. It was put there in the later part of the nineteenth century when Rochester Corporation made an order that every home in the city was required to have a brick diustbin in the backyard. Obviously this gatehouse had no backyard to build one in and therefore a chute was built from the dwelling above for the disposal of ashes and suchlike and to hold it back an oven door was purchased or purloined.
Rochester was then as now, a tourist destination, and tourists are shall we say; inquisitive! Many a person would see the door and wonder why it was there. On opening it they would find out! A day spent covered in the detritus of a household was not to be recommended. It is welded up now so you will be OK. Take a look next time you're in town.




Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on January 13, 2012, 19:09:02
A couple of photos of Prior's Gate in the 19th century. (Photograph reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum www.re-museum.co.uk)

1856
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5095/5474525390_6527c85c9e_z.jpg)

1860s
(http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5018/5473915987_e5be59528a_z.jpg)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: The Collector on January 14, 2012, 01:04:54
The Keep is open to visitors but the "Round Tower" is closed off due to the amount of missing facing stone making the steps unsafe also as this was the tower that was collapsed in the Siege, you can see that the walls around it (repaired building work) is becoming detached and in time could collapse, work will have to be done here to save it. all the other Towers are of square design but by the time of the siege, the crusades had started and they had found that round towers were stronger, hence 3 square 1 round.

Also although the Castle was built by Bishop Gundulf, it was not the First Norman castle, the first was on Borley Hill and was a wooden Mott and Baily, following the Death of King William I, Duke of Normandy, some of the Old barons rebelled against William II (William Rufus), The rebels were not doing too bad but William managed to persuade Roger de Montgomerie (Montgomery) 1st Earl of Shrewsbury to change sides,  the rebellion ended at Rochester where Bishop Odo (Earl of Kent, Bishop of Bayeux) surrender outside the gates of Rochester Castle.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on January 14, 2012, 02:58:26
I'm going purely from memory here so the dates mat not be perfect, but they should be pretty close.

The original castle was built around 1067 as a simple bailey castle with wooden walls. There was some dispute amongst historians as to whether there was ever a motte too, but last time I looked into this (about a decade ago) most were saying there was not - this may have changed by now!  However, it probably did contain a simple wooden keep, whether on a motte or not. The subject of location is also often debated - Boley hill is suggested where an outcropping of rock may have served as a natural motte, the name being derived from the bailey of the castle. Other experts argue that it was always on its current site, but there was a later siege fortification on Boley Hill. I'm not sure if this one has been resolved yet.

Following the rebellion over the succession in 1088, in which Odo supported William's eldest son, Robert Curthose, against his brother, William Rufus, the King ordered Gundulph to rebuild the walls in stone which he did in about 1089, incorporating part of the Roman city wall into the curtain wall of the castle.  The Keep was (re)built in stone by Richard de Corbeil on the instruction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the castle having been granted to the the Archbishop in perpetuity by Henry I in 1127. The building of the keep took place soon after this (and I think was completed around 1135).

As The Collector mentioned, King John laid siege to the castle during the First Baron's War and the south-east corner was brought down by mining. When it was rebuilt the latest defensive technology - a round tower was constructed.  Following this the castle gradually fell into a state of decay until the reign of Edward III when it was restored and a number of towers were added to the curtain wall that Gundulph had originally built.

By the 16th century the castle was considered obsolete and was used as a 'quarry' to supply stone for the building of Upnor Castle. By the 17th century it was in such a poor state it did not even figure in the battle when Royalists captured the city from Parliamentarian forces in the English Civil War. Diarist Samuel Pepys commented on the poor condition of Rochester Castle, and it seems that by the late 17th century the castle may already have become a tourist attraction.

Destruction of part of the outer wall in began in the early 18th century when the owner decided to sell off the stone as building material. It seems he originally intended to dismantle more of the castle to sell the stone, but the plans were abandoned, but not before the cross wall had been removed. Although some other parts of the castle were dismantled, the two towers in the south-east wall continued to be used for accommodation. At some point in the 17th or 18th century the wooden flooring in the keep was sold off (I have a vague recollection it was sold to a brewer, perhaps one of the Best family.)

In the 1740s prisoners were held at the castle, but these were probably in huts built within the walls rather than in the castle itself. In about 1780 the commander of the Royal Engineers for Chatham, Colonel Debbieg (who also oversaw the modernisation of Chatham Lines) put forward a (unsuccessful) plan to reuse Rochester Castle as an army barracks.

In the early 19th century the castle began to be restored, and in the late 19th century (about 1870 I think) the castle gardens were instituted as a public park. In the 1880s the Corporation of Rochester bought the castle. Work on restoring the keep began in the early 20th century by the Corporation, but in the mid 1960s The Ministry of Public Building and Works took over care of the castle from the Corporation of Rochester. This in turn passed over to English Heritage (1980s?) although I believe Medway Council is still responsible for some (or most) of the upkeep.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on January 14, 2012, 03:02:03
Darn, I should have scrolled right back before writing my last post as kyn's original post contains much of the information I put in mine! But hopefully I've added a few more details in some parts, and I don't think the dates I've given clash with kyns!
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kevin payne on January 16, 2012, 15:42:32
i am told that the original timbers went to the brewery that once stood on the site that is now the french hospital just off high st by francis isles.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Merv on January 22, 2012, 23:29:50
The arial photo posted by Dover Dan is great, in the area above the Castle where the Pool is we used to play there when we were Kids.
My Father said that Kent actually played a game of Cricket there at one time.
When the Pool was derelict we used it for making and mucking about on Rafts :)
I believe the pool was used by The Maths school
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: kyn on April 01, 2012, 08:33:47
LewisE's picture of the well inside the castle
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/PICT0004Medium.jpg)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: sandi_01 on April 01, 2012, 10:55:25
That's a cool photo of the castle well...I have never seen it before. I will look next time I am at the castle.

And the baker's oven door...I have noticed that many times and wondered why it was there...now I know!

Thanks for the information guys! :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: swiftone on April 01, 2012, 11:48:55
LewisE's picture of the well inside the castle


Did you notice the date on the well?

(http://i864.photobucket.com/albums/ab206/swiftone_album/DSC02404date.jpg?t=1333277062)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on April 01, 2012, 12:50:31
LewisE's picture of the well inside the castle


Did you notice the date on the well?


The castle began to be restored in the early 19th century - I don't think the 19th century owners were too concened with 'sympathetic' or unobtrusive restoration work!
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Bilgerat on August 25, 2012, 23:34:38
Lovely pictures Numanfan. Have you seen 'Ironclad'? That tells a dramatised story about the great seige. I thought it was a good movie, though it did take some liberties with the facts.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: numanfan on August 25, 2012, 23:48:44
Lovely pictures Numanfan. Have you seen 'Ironclad'? That tells a dramatised story about the great seige. I thought it was a good movie, though it did take some liberties with the facts.

Thanks. Yes, I quite enjoyed the movie - although it was very graphically violent and as you say, not entirely accurate with the facts.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: merc on August 26, 2012, 08:48:34
Lovely pics of the Foot walk numanfan :)

I must admit, I haven't been on the Foot Walk for a while. I usually go past or below it...
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: busyglen on August 26, 2012, 11:36:59
Lovely photos, the contrast between the colour and the grey is great!  :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Lyn L on August 26, 2012, 13:22:51
Lovely pics numanfan, I'll have to look at them again when the dark old winter days come in and remind myself that we did have a few lovely summer days.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Sirenetta on March 24, 2013, 19:28:50
In my days at Rochester Maths, (1954-61), I would sometimes wander round the Castle Gardens and "take the air".  I remember being fascinated with the mulberry trees at the opposite end from the Esplanade entrance.  I had never seen such fruit before.  Are they still there?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on March 24, 2013, 20:23:14
I think that there is a mulberry bush is in the cathedral gardens, near the cloisters.  Its fruit is what silk worms live on.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Rochester-bred on March 24, 2013, 20:32:47
numanfan, what brilliant pictures! Makes me miss the days when I used to walk down there.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: peterchall on March 24, 2013, 21:38:11
I was sitting on the wall near the cannon at the top of steps leading up from the Esplanade with a mate one evening in August 1946 - I don't know the exact date - when two girls came in from the Castle Hill entrance and walked along the path towards us. My mate said "I know that girl" and they spoke to each other; her friend and I were introduced and she is is now sitting in the room with me as I write this. So those gardens are a very special place to me.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: medwayboy on April 06, 2013, 18:26:11
A couple of memories here for you peterchall & wife, I took them with a little browney camera back in the late 50s.
Ken
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: medwayboy on April 06, 2013, 18:28:16
And this one... don't know why it didn't appear with the one below.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: peterchall on April 06, 2013, 19:27:26
Thanks Medwayboy. :)
I think the exact spot on the wall was at the peak of the bulge in the 2nd photo.
Yesterday we celebrated our 61st anniversary.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: BygoneMedway on April 06, 2013, 19:30:30
I have fond memories of looking over the wall towards the Bridge where those cannons are.  Waiting for my then girlfriend to cross the bridge to meet me. I was 15 at the time. She was my first love.

Whenever my wife and I are in the castle gardens, she always says, " Lets look at the view before we go home". I told her about them times long, long ago. She just smiles when we leave, knowing I was, for just a brief moment, 15 again. Waiting for his first love to cross the bridge.

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: medwayboy on April 11, 2013, 11:49:10
I always loved this castle, it was a long walk from Luton but worth it. I remember having to pay 3d to get in at the little door in the bottom of the large fore building, you had to cross over a deep pit and we used to think this was the dungeon, of course I know better now what a donjon is and was. It was a steady climb to the top but the views were spectacular, I have never been able to understand why it was never roofed over and floors put back in: (a) it would better preserve what is there and (b) you would get a better understanding of how the castle worked, a better use of lottery funding could not be found.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on April 11, 2013, 16:23:17
... I remember having to pay 3d to get in at the little door in the bottom of the large fore building, you had to cross over a deep pit and we used to think this was the dungeon, of course I know better now what a donjon is and was, it was a steady climb to the top but the views were spectacular,....

Yes I remember the little door at the bottom that you went in through, and the deep pit.  I never got fed up of going in there and up to the top when I was a child.  Later, as a teenager (back in the risque early 1960's) it used to be somewhere to meet up with boys on a Sunday afternoon.

Talking about roofing it over, I seem to recall that sometime in the late 60's or early 70's a young man fell from the top, I think he was climbing along the wall. The surname Black seems to come to my mind.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Chas on April 14, 2013, 08:07:06
Sadly I remember this incident quite well (I think). I believe that it was a lad called Chalky White who was a friend of my brother in law. As I recall the incident, he was walking across the "chicken wire" which closed the open top of the Castle to birds. 
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Leofwine on April 22, 2013, 01:29:32
Rochester Castle & Cathedral viewed from Fort Amherst.

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8526/8670562254_533f25227f_b.jpg)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: peterchall on April 22, 2013, 08:16:11
Great photo :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: medwayboy on April 22, 2013, 08:58:48
I agree.. a great picture, must be a good lens. Was the castle ever used as a fortified place? in the last 200 years that is...
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: bromptonboy on April 22, 2013, 10:17:21
In the period of 1779/80 when Debbieg was working on the Chatham defences there was a plan to purchase Rochester Castle and turn it into a fortified barracks. There is one mention about this that I have found in the RE Letter Books in which Debbieg writes to the BO Solicitor Lough Carlton on 9 May 1780 in which he states "Mr Child has agreed to sell Rochester Castle to the Crown". This was one plan that did not proceed.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: medwayboy on April 23, 2013, 09:18:09
I suppose we should be thankful for small mercies then that it didn't happen... or someone might have pulled it down or turned it into flats,
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Merv on May 03, 2013, 00:29:50
Long before the Sweeps festival, The Carnivals, there was a yearly Fete.
It ended with a local Group doing a set on stage followed by fireworks.
Try as hard as I might I can find no photos of it, yet it was the biggest event in Rochester during the mid sixties.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Rochester-bred on May 04, 2013, 20:38:40
Back when we changed into decimal coinage, the castle had a fete that year and I went in the fancy dress competition as the new coinage with a big 50p on my front and back and a crown with the other coins on them. I didn't win; a spaceman did, but the judge did say I was very in vogue. By the way, my mum made me do it  :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: AlanH on May 05, 2013, 11:40:36
I remember going to the castle fete during my teens. From memory, groups in fancy dress etc., used to start from the Vines and go through to the castle grounds where there were various stalls and activities going on including a boxing rink.
An ex pro boxer mate (Dick the Pole, anyone else remember Dick?) from the Bridge Wardens conned/tricked/duped me into challenging one of the old pugs for a fiver. This bloke slipped over, it certainly wasn't me hitting him as I was only good at back pedalling, I offered to help him up and he got a bit aggressive.....and then suddenly Dick was shouting...."Alan, I am coming" and in the ring he came and all the ex pugs were falling over trying to get out of the ring!
It was so funny but I ended up fleeing as they decided I was the one they could belt and get away with it.
Happy days and not the first time or the last my long legs got me out of trouble. :)
AlanH.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on May 05, 2013, 17:58:13
Hi Alan H,
Reference the Polish gent who used the Bridge Wardens. My brother in law, Richard Romanowsky, lived on the Tideway, he practically lived in the Bridge Wardens, his wife's name was Valery.
He was usually known as Nick, may be the same person. Sorry to say both now long gone.

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: AlanH on May 06, 2013, 09:52:49
Hi Signals99.
Must be the same Dick, lived nearly opposite Binnacle Road junction with the Tideway. I never knew his real first name and as most Polish family names are virtually unpronouncable never ever knew that either. He was a good bloke and loved his beer.
So did I ...... and still do. :)
Sorry to hear he's gone but I suppose at the time I spoke about he would have been around 40 anyway so it's understandable.
Good times had then but aren't they always when you're young and fit and up for a laugh at any time.
AlanH.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on May 06, 2013, 12:45:24
Maybe I won't get away with posting this, not a lot to do with Rochester Castle, but I do think it may interest the boys and girls of the forum. My brother in law, Riezard Romanowsky, Nick for short, came to the UK at the end of WW2. He was fourteen years old,  he had seen the Germans occupy his country and took part in the Warsaw uprising. He walked across Europe and somehow reached England.
He became a professional fighter, I don't say boxer as many of his fights were illegal bare knuckle fights. He spent some time as a guest of Her Majesty (the result of a bare knuckle fight at Strood fair) I was told. I can't confirm a lot of this, but he was not the sort of man to lie.
He had a daughter Helaina and a son, I believe his name was Stephen or Stefan.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: AlanH on May 07, 2013, 10:04:03
I think he's the same bloke I knew Signals but could have sworn we called him Dick the Pole not Nick! Never mind, he was a good all round bloke.
I didn't know he'd been inside but knew he'd been a pro boxer and so did the pugs at the fete in the castle grounds and they weren't game to take him on.
If it is the same bloke he was a painter by trade and when he came home from work used to go in the Star Inn at Star Hill after getting off the train before coming up to the Bridge Wardens to finish off the evenings drinking.
AlanH.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on May 07, 2013, 13:45:52
AlanH, that's Dick/Nick, yes indeed, the altercation at Strood was over a card game at the fair ground in Station Road, someone lost a lot of money and refused to pay.  It appears the argument got quite heated, our lad got upset and proceeded to do a demolition job on the other participants. However he always treated my family and I very well, a very generous man, especially in the Bridge Wardens. At least you knew if Dick was in there would be no trouble.


Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Merv on December 10, 2013, 02:35:42
I recall one of the biggest events in the 1960's at the Castle were the Fetes, with a local band and firework display finally.
But damned if I can find reference or photos anywhere.
I am sure Guy Fawkes night was also covered there annually.
 
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: afsrochester on December 10, 2013, 18:53:49
Merv :)

You are spot on. My Auntie and Uncle took me there during the 60's. I remember it as clear as day (I won a goldfish) and the following day, we went on the train to Broadstairs. Happy Days! :)
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: afsrochester on December 11, 2013, 10:55:33
Merv :)

I dare say that there will be something at Medway Archives Centre at Strood who hold the local press archives for this era. It is sometime ago that I was there, but I believe the papers from this era to be bound copies (I might be wrong) which is a lot easier to read, rather than on microfisch film which, for those of us who have used, will tell you that it can be rather time-consuming as the  pages don't always run in order.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ETA on December 11, 2013, 15:58:57
Merv, you remember correctly, assuming I do too.  These 'spectaculars' were known as 'Son et Lumiere' evenings, and when I get back to Blighty next year I shall see whether I can find some of the publicity for them in my old files.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Troyboy on February 03, 2017, 21:14:34
Photo of Rochester Castle Image copied from an Ilford ISO chromatic Glass Plate and has been Photoshopped. Date unknown but looking at the clothing, possibly Victorian.??
Regards Troyboy.

http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19619.msg174136#new
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Dave Smith on February 04, 2017, 13:32:41
Flag mast a bit shorter but otherwise doesn't seem to have changed much!
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 05, 2017, 20:54:47
Dave Smith. as you have opened this topic again, can I sneak in a question ref Rochester castle?
About 1947/1950 I was nine years old, I was attending St Margaret`s Primary School, just up the road from the castle. Our head master, Mr. Berry took us down to the old moat area where, just outside the entrance to Satis house buildings in the old moat, some houses had been demolished and an archaeological dig was in progress. We were told it was looking for traces of a tunnel or earth work involved with the breaching of the keep during the siege by King John. Never did hear anything more about it. Anyone satisfy my curiosity?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Bilgerat on February 08, 2017, 17:27:40
Signals99, it's mentioned earlier in this very thread - http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1859.msg13582#msg13582 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1859.msg13582#msg13582)

The movie 'Ironclad' tells the story too, although there's a fair amount of dramatic license.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 09, 2017, 05:42:16
Bilgerat thanks for lead, much appreciated.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: KeithJG on February 09, 2017, 16:44:03
I too remember that small door entrance to the keep and paid 3d in around 1957 it was a dodgy looking bridge that had to be walked over and i also thought below were the dungeons?

In fact the last time i went there about 2yrs back i went down the passageway from inside and i do believe it was the dungeons?

I always went up the castle from the swimming pool on my way back home.

I have this interesting postcard taken from the top of the keep and it shows Rochester Bridge but in the right hand corner the old WW1 Tank which i have never seen on a card so we are after 1919.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Bilgerat on February 09, 2017, 17:14:10
And a beautiful four-masted barque in the background......
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 09, 2017, 21:01:17
I don't know if this helps with the question from singnals99 regards the excavation near Satis House? I have scoured the archives and found that an excavation did take place in late 1959 immediately to the southwest of Satis House by A. J. F. Dulley with the help of pupils of the local King's School, Rochester. However, this was to search for evidence of an earlier Motte and Bailey castle adjacent to the present castle and keep? I attach a copy of the only report I can find from Archaeologia Cantiana Vol 74; 1960. Could this be it, though the date for it is incorrect with singnals99 memory? Could there have been an earlier excavation attempt that has gone largely unreported?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 10, 2017, 07:33:55
Cat, thanks for your input . The date given in the report would make me about eighteen? My memory of the visit was that it took place during my last year at St Margarets, just prior to transferring to Troy Town, I'm not to certain at what age that would have happened, maybe ten or eleven  years, so 1951/52 would be the time frame.
There was a brick retaining wall on the castle side of the moat, with a small wooden door in the wall, this led to a few steps up to the height of the embankment in front of the curtain wall, see KeithJG entry for confirmation. The excavation was almost adjacent to that door at this point. I will admit my memory grows hazy, I was more interested in Mr Berry`s story of something referred to as "apied powdre " please forgive my spelling. I think it was French or Latin? But never the less it instilled in me an interest in archaeological things that lasts till today. Bring back Time Team!.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on February 10, 2017, 10:36:24
I too remember the entrance and wooden slats to walk over as Keith G mentions, and they were the dungeons directly below. Does anyone remember the 'bird seed seller?.  Over by where the old toilets were was a man from whom you could buy bags of seeds or nuts to feed the pigeons.  I also remember that there was a small childrens golf course on the grass (as you went up the stone steps to the gardens it was on the left hand side).  My memories are from the 1950's.

Regarding the tank. I don't know when it was removed but it was certainly still there in 1976.  Apologise for the photo - but I was young and wild!!!

Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: conan on February 10, 2017, 12:46:40
I used to go to the castle with my gran back in the 60s and remember the chap selling birdseed to feed the pigeons, a thing that is discouraged now 
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: ann on February 10, 2017, 16:26:03
Oops!  I was sitting on a cannon gun, not tank.  Sorry.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: KeithJG on February 10, 2017, 17:41:55
This has my memory cells on the go....i moved to Frindsbury in October 1956 when i was 8yrs and from then on used to frequent the Rochester Swimming Pool during holidays and ordinary weekends.

Being an only child i was always alone and so wondered around anywhere of interest on my way to catch the bus... i do remember from around `56 to `63 scaffolding being all around the rear of the Castle, it covered the toilet side and the rear side up to the sloping footpath ........the reason i remember is because i was a wonderer and wanted to get around the back just because i wanted to and couldn`t. I don`t think this would have anything to do with the King`s School....scaffolding??

The scaffolding could not of been later years as i had moved away and never went near the place until around 8yrs back.

I know there has been alterations to the entrance but that did not include rear scaffolding?

I am also on another mission now as i saw a photo of the tank in my Stepmum`s photo`s ...she died 3yrs ago and i am still going through her old belongings she kept.

...................................................................................

Just found this and is interesting reading it mentions the bridge over the dungeons in the small original visitors entrance:

http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.027%20-%201905/027-09.pdf

Also a Castle Plan showing the tunnel under in the bottom left image.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Stewie on February 10, 2017, 18:13:48
Just  a thought but the four masted ship in the background of KeithJG's aerial picture isn't the Arethusa by chance? Although my memories of this ship were always moored at Upnor, I have seen a painting by local artist Geoffrey Hall showing it roughly in this position.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: KeithJG on February 17, 2017, 12:12:38
Not disputing what anyone says but if the tank was put there in 1919 and it was still there in 1976 why is it not here in this shot in 1948?

The concrete plinth is still there as it has always been........anyone know the date of removal?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Mike S on February 17, 2017, 12:27:34
There was definitely not a tank there when I lived in the area 1956 - 1966.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 17, 2017, 12:36:22
its gone by 1947 as can be seen on an image from 'Britain from above'. I assume it was removed during the early years of WWII for scrap as a lot of them where?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 17, 2017, 13:55:45
Looks like the only one left in the country now on public display is in Ashford.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Rochester-bred on February 17, 2017, 14:30:15
I have lived in Rochester since 1958 and have always visited the castle many times during the year and have never seen a tank there in that time .
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 17, 2017, 23:13:42
Smiffy -  point of interest ref. the Ashford tank. At one time it contained low voltage switch gear, part of the town network, so maybe that's why it's still in situ?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 18, 2017, 01:27:05
I think you're right Signals - there's a whole section on the forum about WW1 tanks:

http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1811.0
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 18, 2017, 01:42:40
The Rochester tank in all its glory, shame it was scrapped:
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 21, 2017, 18:45:48
This is a picture of the Castle that probably dates from around 1900. Try as I might, I couldn't reconcile this view with the modern one despite the fact that the road layout hasn't changed. It finally dawned on me why, and no doubt many members here will twig sooner than I did.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 21, 2017, 19:16:54
Is the image reversed?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Lyn L on February 21, 2017, 19:28:56
The houses in the moat ?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 21, 2017, 20:26:02
CAT has it. I was scratching my head for half an hour before I realised. I think the clearly printed and authoritative "Maidstone Museum" deceived me a bit - obviously even official sources can sometimes be prone to error.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 22, 2017, 12:43:59
If that's the house in the moat, and using the round tower as a reference point, that puts the photographer in St. Margarets Street, just below the entrance to Vines Lane and next to the entrance to Love Lane, in my mind, if so where's the Robuck Arms? Or am I missing something.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 22, 2017, 13:08:21
It may be easier if you look at the image flipped.

The photographer appears to have been standing in the junction of St Margaret's Street and the road along the back of the garages (don't know if this has a formal name?). The building with the curving wall on the right of the corrected image is The Old Bursary.

What clinched it for my is the position of the round corner tower on the castle and the fore-building, which should be on the right, not the left.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: smiffy on February 22, 2017, 14:07:18
The road the man is walking into is known as Centenary Walk, which runs along the rear of Minor Canon Row.

Here's the view from Google
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: Signals99 on February 22, 2017, 14:15:19
Thanks Cat, took me a while to get it, so the wall on the left must be the boundary wall of Satis House, may have originally been a glass plate type negative, so the road to the right would be Century Walk ?
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 22, 2017, 14:46:34
Both correct smiffy and Signals99. It is a common problem with glass plate negative if of an unfamiliar view and little to aid in getting them the right way round, such as distinctive surviving buildings or even street names. Using either pointer can help orientate an image.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: CAT on February 22, 2017, 16:17:17
A similar view, but dated between 1847-57.
Title: Re: Rochester Castle
Post by: KeithJG on March 04, 2017, 15:38:03
Nothing new to say but just more pictures of Rochester Castle from different angles from my postcard collections.

Although one shows Rochester old Bridge it is from the top of the Keep.