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Rochester Local Information: 10 top things to know... more

  • 1. History

    There is no shortage of history on show in Rochester. Notable buildings include Rochester Castle, Rochester Cathedral, the Restoration House and Garden, the Guildhall, and the Poor Travellers’ House. The City of Rochester Society is a charity run by volunteers and dedicated to preserving the history of the city and organising guided walks.

  • 2. Now

    Rochester is known as a city but does not officially have city status. It comes under the borough of Medway, which includes the neighbouring towns of Strood, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham. Medway Council is campaigning to be given city status. Rochester is home to one of five campuses of the UCA (University of the Creative Arts). The town has a mix of traditional tea rooms,...Read more historic buildings and modern shopping and nightlife facilities. Read less

  • 3. Events

    The Sweeps Festival is a celebration that aims to recreate the traditional holiday enjoyed by chimney sweeps in days gone by. Events include Morris dancing, folk music and more. This festival takes place in May. The Dickens Festival is held twice a year in Rochester to celebrate the life of Charles Dickens. The Summer Festival takes place over three days in June and the Dicken...Read moresian Christmas Festival is held over two days in December. The English Festival takes place in neighbouring Gillingham in April and celebrates all things English. This family-friendly event looks at culture, history and tradition and has different themed zones to enjoy. The Fuse Medway Festival is held in June and includes a variety of events at different venues across the borough. The festival is a celebration of the arts and includes a parade, performances and more. Read less

  • 4. Attractions

    Rochester Castle is owned by English Heritage and includes a three-story Norman tower-keep, built in around 1127. This attraction has plenty of picnic spots within its grounds. Rochester Cathedral is open daily for visitors and guided tours are available as well as audio tours. Tours include a Pilgrimage Package, a Guided Tour and Cream Tea and a Bespoke Package. Guildhall Mu...Read moreseum is based in a 17th century building and includes a full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk; archaeological objects that visitors can touch; the most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker's tools in the world; a Victorian drawing room and kitchen; a Dickens Discovery Room and more. Read less

  • 5. Things To Do

    There are plenty of guided walks available around Rochester, including ghost walks for those who are brave enough. Strood Leisure Centre includes a swimming pool, steam room, sauna, squash and badminton courts, a gym and more. Hundred of Hoo Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, training pool, gym, squash courts and more.

  • 6. Business

    The centre of Rochester is known for its high number of specialist, independent and traditional stores, making it a unique place to shop. A market is held in the town every Friday and the Farmers’ Market takes place on the third Sunday of every month. There are plenty of places to choose from for food and drink, ranging from restaurants and cafes to tea rooms and pubs.

  • 7. Transport

    The M2 runs past Rochester and links to the A2 and M25 to the west. The A229 runs to the south of the town and the M20, which is just to the south of Rochester, gives good access to Folkstone. Gatwick Airport takes about 55 minutes to reach by car from Rochester and Heathrow takes about 90 minutes. Direct trains are available from London to Rochester Train Station, which is i...Read moren the heart of the town centre. Read less

  • 8. Entertainment

    Open-air concerts take place during the summer months at the Rochester Castle Gardens. Events include the Castle Proms. The Central Theatre and The Brook Theatre, both in nearby Chatham, offer a mix of live entertainment including comedy, music, kids’ shows, dance and more.

  • 9. Famous Landmarks

    Rochester Cathedral is Britain’s second oldest, having been founded in 604AD. The present building dates back to 1080, although many additions have been made over the years.

  • 10. Interesting Fact

    The Siege of Rochester Castle in 1215 was one of Britain’s bloodiest. After the signing of the Magna Carta, King John gathered an army to reclaim his power over England and gain revenge against those who defied him. Rebels seized Rochester and Rochester Bridge. The King's men managed to gain control of the bridge and then laid siege to the castle. It took them about two month...Read mores to capture the castle. One film made about this part of history is Ironclad, although it was filmed in Wales using a recreation of the castle. Read less


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