Rochester Guildhall Museum

The Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent.

Its staircase and main hall have magnificent plaster ceilings, given in 1695 by Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, who was the Member of Parliament for the city of Rochester at the time. Outside, mounted on the roof, is an amazing weather vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th-century warship. This is 1.52m tall and weighs just under 51kg. It is made of gilded copper and lead alloy and has weathered the ever-changing climate since 1780.

The museum was founded in 1897, in honour of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. It was first set up in Eastgate House further along the High Street and was moved into the Guildhall in 1979.

The collections follow a timeline through Medway's history and are housed at the museum along with a gift shop. Highlights of the displays include:

  • a full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk;
  • a 200,000 year-old axe that visitors can touch;
  • a wide range of domestic artefacts from Darenth Roman villa;
  • the most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker's tools in the world;
  • a model of Rochester Castle under siege;
  • a large selection of paintings and prints of the area.

In 2020 we’re celebrating all things Dickens to commemorate 150 years since the death of one of England's greatest novelist. 

From April onwards there’ll be lots of the events and activities taking place - from exhibitions, poetry trails, art projects, readings, open top bus tours and the annual Dickens Festival taking place in Rochester on 13 and 14 June 2020. 

The Making of Mr Dickens
As part of Dickens 150, an exciting new permanent exhibition on Charles Dickens will be opening at the museum in June 2020. 

Visit Dickens 150 for more information on all the events and activities that will be taking place in and around Medway.

Support Services

Opening Times

Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays.

Address

Guildhall Museum
17 High Street
Rochester
ME1 1PY