What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Victoria, Holborn Viaduct, or St. Paul’s. South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Rochester. =Distance from London.=–33 miles. =Average Time.=–1-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 5s. 4d. 3s. 4d. 2s. 8d. Return 9s. 4d. 6s. 3d. 5s. 4d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"King’s Head Hotel,” “Royal Victoria," “Bull Hotel,” “Royal Crown Hotel,” etc.
Rochester, a most picturesque old town on the river Medway, has been a place of importance from the earliest times. The cathedral, which is not very impressive externally, and is much surrounded by houses, is best seen from the castle. It was the first church built after Augustine settled in Canterbury, but of this building no trace now remains except some foundations. The Norman Bishop Gundulf in 1080 built a large portion of the Norman work of the present cathedral. In 1201 it was largely rebuilt by money obtained from thank-offerings for miracles wrought by St. William, a baker of Perth, who was murdered near Rochester on his way to Canterbury, and buried in the cathedral. The Norman castle, standing on the banks of the river, was built by Bishop Gundulf, and though it is now in ruins, the interior having been destroyed for its timber, the walls remain firm. The castle was besieged by William Rufus and Simon de Montfort, and on both occasions suffered considerable damage. One of the many interesting buildings in the High Street is the three-gabled house of Watts’s Charity, which has become famous from Dickens’s Christmas story of The Seven Poor Travellers. According to the inscription above the doorway, Richard Watts in 1579 founded this “Charity for Six Poor Travellers, who not being Rogues or Proctors, may receive gratis for one night, Lodging, Entertainment, and Fourpence each.” Restoration House, an old red-brick mansion on the Maidstone Road, is so named from the visit of Charles II. on his way to London in 1660. To all admirers of Charles Dickens, Rochester is full of memories (see Index, Gad’s Hill). Not only did Dickens make Rochester the scene of his last unfinished work, Edwin Drood, but he made many allusions to it elsewhere. Mr. Jingle, for instance, in the Pickwick Papers says, “Ah! fine place, glorious pile–frowning walls–tottering arches–dark nooks–crumbling staircases–old cathedral too–earthy smell–pilgrims’ feet worn away the old steps.”
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL.
A considerable portion was built in 1080 by Bishop Gundulf.]