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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.
Its Norman tower-keep of Kentish ragstone was built about 1127 by William of Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, with the encouragement of Henry I. Consisting of three floors above a basement, it still stands 113 feet high. Attached is a tall protruding forebuilding, with its own set of defences to pass through before the keep itself could be entered at first floor level.
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.
Rebuilt under Henry III and Edward I, the castle remained as a viable fortress until the sixteenth century.
Rochester Castle and its events are managed by Medway Council.
Family Craft Activities: The Norman Conquest - Tuesdays & Thursdays 25 July – 2 September, 10.30am-3.30pm Changeling Theatre: All’s Well that Ends Well - Thursday 11 August, 7.30pm Medieval Merriment - Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 August, 10am-5pm Luna Cinema: The Goonies - Thursday 22 September, 7.30pm Luna Cinema: Romeo & Juliet - Friday 23 September, 7.30pm Luna Cinema: Monty Python’s Life of Brian - Saturday 24 September, 7.30pm
English Heritage cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of empire to a Cold War bunker. Through these, we bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year.
The English Heritage Trust is a charity, no. 1140351, and a company, no. 0744722, registered in England.
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Our target is to become completely self-funding by 2023. Our confidence in achieving this is based on our track record. During the past 10 years, our commercial income has doubled and we have raised nearly £60m in donated income.