Strategically placed astride the London Road, guarding an important crossing of the River Medway, this imposing fortress has a complex history of destruction and rebuilding. Today it stands as a proud reminder of the history of Rochester, along with the cathedral and cobbled streets.
In 1087 Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester began the construction of the castle. One of William the Conqueror’s greatest architects, he was also responsible for the Tower of London. Much of what you see remaining of the walled perimeter remains intact from that time. William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury was also a contributor to this grand castle building project. Henry I granted him custody of the castle in 1127, a responsibility that lasted until King John seized the castle in 1215.
In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured an epic siege by King John. Having first undermined the outer wall, John used the fat of 40 pigs to fire a mine under the keep, bringing its southern corner crashing down. Even then the defenders held on, until they were eventually starved out after resisting for two months.
Rochester Castle remains one of the most impressive Norman fortresses and continues to attract visitors from far and wide.
IMPORTANT NOTICE WHEN VISITING ROCHESTER CASTLE!
As from Saturday, 4 July Rochester Castle will be re-opening our doors to the public.
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-booking required.
- Only one group at a time will be allowed into the shop/ticket office. You will be asked to queue at the bottom of the steps, keeping 2m apart.
- Before entering the Castle our team will ask for your name, email, phone number and postcode. These details will be kept for 21 days and will be handed over to the National Test and Trace system if it’s needed.
- There are perspex screens installed at the desk.
- We are currently only taking card payments. The card machine will be cleaned after every use.
- You will notice additional signage as well as staff to help you have a safe, but enjoyable visit.
- Handrails will be cleaned every hour and hand sanitiser will be available for use around the building.
- You will be invited to visit the Chapel first, before climbing the stairs to the Mural Gallery, then the Battlements before making the descent to the basement. Once you have finished your visit, you will be asked to leave via the ground floor exit.
- As you will not be leaving through the gift shop, we ask you make any purchases of gifts or souvenirs at the start of your visit.
Visitor numbers will be limited to three groups inside the Castle and your visit is likely to last approximately 30-45 minutes. Therefore queues may occur. Please keep this in mind and wear appropriate clothing for the weather.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
Medieval Merriment at Rochester Castle
Siege of Rochester Castle
In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured an epic siege by King John.
In this short film we learn more about this siege and why we now have one round tower and three square ones
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reopening on Saturday, 4 July 2020
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed Mondays.
English Heritage Members: Free