Rochester Castle, Kent

Rochester Castle, Kent. Steel engraving. Drawing by Tomblesons and engraved by P. Sands. From Eighty Picturesque Views of the Thames and Medway. Text and formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of California Library and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]

The river, which is here expanded into a considerable breadth, with increased current passes the ancient, but picturesque, village of Woldham, and, winding in difierent curves, reaches the village of Cuxton, formerly called Coclestane, on the left, and we soon obtain an imposing view of the majestic ruins of Rochester castle, its ancient Gothic bridge and venerable cathedral. On the left is Temple-Farm, in the parish of Strood, where, in the reign of Henry II, stood a mansion belonging to the Knights-Templars, and on the opposite bank is the church of St. Margaret, in the parish of Rochester; its ivy-clad tower and picturesque situation forming an attractive object.

The origin of the name of Rochester does not appear to have been clearly defined. A location was, very probably, established here as early as the year of Our Lord 43, when Plautus first landed. The castle was built by the Romans, to guard this important pass of the Medway, and was repaired by William the Conqueror. The keep was erected by Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, in the reign of William Rufus, and is still called Gundulf's tower. It is constructed of rag-stone, and, exteriorly, is nearly perfect, being the principal part of the castle now extant, and presenting one of the most interesting and curious specimens of Norman military architecture in the kingdom. The See of Rochester (founded in 600) is one of the most ancient in England. The church attached to the priory of St. Andrew having become neglected and delapidated, bishop Gundulph commenced the new cathedral, about the year 1077, although the dedication of the whole structure did not take place until 1130. It now exhibits specimens of the architecture of at least four distinct eras. The western entrance of this interesting pile arrests the attention of every beholder by the magnificence of its design and the richness and beauty of the decorations. The whole length of the cathedral, from east to west, is 306 feet, that of the nave and aisles 75, and the height of the great tower is 156 feet. The bridge was erected in the reign of Richard II, about the year 1394. [82]

Related Material


Fearnside, W. G. Eighty Picturesque Views of the Thames and Medway, Engraved on Steel by the First Artists. London: Black and Armstrong, [n.d. after 1837]. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California at Berkley Library. Web. 30 March 2012.

Last modified 6 May 2012