Posts Tagged ‘Rochester’

Rochester Castle

Posted: July 10, 2019 in Kent, UK
Tags: ,
Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

The first castle on this important site where the London Road crosses the River Medway was built by  Odo, the half-brother of William the Conqueror shortly after their victory in 1066. In 1088, following Williams death, Odo supported the King’s eldest son Robert for the crown and the castle was besieged by forces supporting the eventually successful son William Rufus. Records show that the following year repairs were made to the castle by Gandalf, Bishop of Rochester. The tower keep, much as it is seen today, was built in 1127 by William, Archbishop of Canterbury,  who had come into possession of the castle.

The Keep at Rochester Castle

The Keep at Rochester Castle

In 1215 the castle was taken by the rebel barons and was subsequently besieged by the forces of King John. The defenders held out for two months but eventually, starving, they had to surrender the castle. It was besieged again in 1264, this time holding for the King against rebel barons although the outcome was different as the castle was relieved after a week by Royal forces.

The Castle Keep

The Castle Keep

In 1381  the castle was captured and ransacked during the peasant’s revolt. It was badly damaged and this seems to have made it turning point in the castle’s history  as although repairs were carried out and people continued to live in the keep, the records show that the amount of repair work done was insufficient to keep the castle in a fully functional state and eventually it fell out of use. Much of the stone from the external walls and outbuildings was carried away and used on other building projects such as nearby Upnor Castle.

One of the few remaining portions of the external walls of Rochester Castle

One of the few remaining portions of the external walls of Rochester Castle

In 1870, the site was opened as a public park and eventually passed into the hands of the local authority, then the ministry of public works and finally to English Heritage.

A winters day and a chance for some birdwatching in Kent with Keith. Our first stop was a housing estate in Strood, which is now becoming a regular spot for a wintering flock of Bohemian Waxwings, a Scandinavian bird which only comes to the UK in years when the berry crop on the continent is not enough to sustain them. Some years there are huge eruptions with many hundreds or even thousands of birds coming over the North Sea. This is not one on them and this winter there has only been a handful in the South of England, so we wanted to take the opportunity to see if we could catch up with them. We had to wait over an hour, but eventually, the group of 6 birds dropped into their favourite feeding tree and stayed for about 20 minutes before flying off.

After a break in a local cafe for lunch, we made our way down to the River Medway at Rochester looking for Common Sandpiper, a species which winters on this stretch of river. As the mud was exposed on the falling tide there were Northern Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Common Redshank feeding on the mud together with Mallard and a single Little Grebe.

Mallard
Common Redshank

Then out from one of the little creeks came a Common Sandpiper and we got close views as it began to feed.

Common Sandpiper

As we walked along the riverside to the Railway station we saw a second Common Sandpiper. A good day with both target species seen well.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Bohemian Waxwing [sp] (Bombycilla garrulus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

All aboard for Southend

Posted: July 28, 2017 in Essex, Kent, UK
Tags: ,

On Wednesday Keith and I travelled aboard the Jacob Marley from Rochester Pier up the River Medway and across the River Thames to Southend.

Passing under Rochester Bridge

Upnor Castle

Lightships at Hoo (now used as house boats)

Hoo Fort

Kingsnorth Power station. The day after the trip the building on the left was demolished

Garrison Point Sheerness at the point where the Medway joins the Thames. The old fort and the new navigation control tower

Approaching Southend Pier

Jacob Marley moored on Southend Pier

It had been a relatively calm crossing with little traffic in the main sea lane leading from London to the English Channel.

 

Recently Keith and I went for a boat trip along the River Medway.

Our boat – The Jacob Marley

Leaving the pier at Rochester with the Castle in the background.

The Old Russian Submarine moored at Strood

Frindsbury Church

Rochester Cathedral and Castle from the river

A reminder of Rochester’s maritime heritage

An old accommodation barge

Chatham Riverfront

 

 

Some pictures from a recent visit to Rochester in Kent

 

La Providence – The French hospital. Founded in London in 1708 by a rich Huguenot to care for poor Huguenot refugees fleeing from persecution in France it moved to Rochester in 1959. Today is still alms-house for people of Huguenot descent.

Restoration House, so called because Charles II stayed here on the night before his restoration to the Throne of England and Scotland

The Vines – originally the site of the vineyard of the priory of Rochester Cathedral

The Coopers Arms – dates from 1199

Medieval buildings in the High St

Bridge House – originally offices of trust that built and controlled the Medway Bridge

A reminder of Rochester’s maritime heritage

Rochester Castle

 

On a recent visit to Rochester, Keith and I visited the Museum which is housed in the Old Guildhall (1687) and the previous offices of the Medway Conservancy (1909) next door.

The Medway Conservancy building with the Guildhall beyond

Detail on the Medway Conservancy building

Guildhall building

It contains a number of exhibits on the history of Rochester from its Norman foundations around the Castle and the Cathedral situated at the crossing of the River Medway to its civil war exploits and the Battle of the Medway in 1667 when the Dutch entered the River and captured or destroyed a large part of the British Fleet in 1667.

Attack on Rochester Castle

A civil war tableau

Battle of Medway 1667

An unusual Green Post Box

The upper floor of the Guildhall is the Guildhall chamber which has been used both as a court and as a council chamber during its history.

Guildhall Chamber

Views of Rochester (3)

Posted: January 19, 2017 in London, UK
Tags: ,

Rochester High St

Rochester High St

A quiet terrace near the river

A quiet terrace near the river

This is the house which Charles Dickens used as the home of Mr Tope, the head verger at Rochester Cathedral in 'The mystery of Edwin Drood'

This is the house which Charles Dickens used as the home of Mr Tope, the head verger at Rochester Cathedral in ‘The mystery of Edwin Drood’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rochester High Street

Rochester High Street

The River Medway in the area once occupied by Rochester Docks

The River Medway in the area once occupied by Rochester Docks

A reminder of the docks which once stood on this site

A reminder of the docks which once stood on this site

 

Views of Rochester (2)

Posted: January 12, 2017 in Kent, UK
Tags:

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

A Rochester town-house

A Rochester town-house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathedral gatehouse

Cathedral gatehouse

Rochester High Street and war memorial

Rochester High Street and war memorial

Catapala Tree (American Indian Bean Tree) outside Rochester Cathedral. It is over 100 years old.

Catapala Tree (American Indian Bean Tree) outside Rochester Cathedral. It is over 100 years old.

Views of Rochester (1)

Posted: January 5, 2017 in Kent, UK
Tags: ,

The Keep at Rochester Castle

The Keep at Rochester Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

Rochester Cathedral from the Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Medway from the Castle Terrace

River Medway from the Castle Terrace

Road Bridge over the River Medway

Road Bridge over the River Medway

A Rochester Terrace

A Rochester Terrace

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

When Keith and I recently visited Rochester Cathedral we took the opportunity to visit the exhibition space in the crypt. This traces the history of the Cathedral through items from its collection.

Head of a medieval Bishop's crozier. Photo by Keith

Head of a medieval Bishop’s crozier. Photo by Keith

Reliquary.  Photo by Keith

Reliquary. Photo by Keith

The centre of the exhibition is a copy of the Textus Roffensis (The Book of Rochester).

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

Textus Roffensis. Photo by Keith

The Textus Roffensis is a codex of books probably written from around 1120 AD and bound together in the 14th century. It was written by a monk at Rochester in a local ‘font’ known as Rochester Prickly. It is in two languages Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and Latin. Part of the codex contains the only existing copy of King Ethelbert of Kent’s code of Laws, which originated from around 600 AD. It also comprises a copy of the Coronation Charter of Henry I, used by the Barons as a template when composing the Magna Carta. Other items include documents relating to land holdings of the Cathedral and other legal documents. Together they seem to comprise a reference book to be used in legal disputes involving the rights and holdings of the Cathedral.