Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 41 Rochester.

Today we drove to Rochester, another town with no cars allowed in its centre.  I think that Rochester is even quainter than Canterbury.  It oozes history and charm.  We visited the Cathedral, which dates back to 604.  The nave and crypt are of Norman architecture and it has a Romanesque façade.  Some of the other parts of the cathedral are of later Gothic styles.  We saw Rochester Castle where the movie, Iron Clad, was made.  It’s keep which is 28 metres high is the tallest in England.  As a result of a siege by King John in 1215, the castle now has one circular tower and three old square towers.  The King had the south east tower undermined and burnt the props using the fat of forty pigs.  The tower was rebuilt round to better deflect missile attacks and to work against future attempts of undermining. 
The Rochester guild hall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest seventeenth century buildings in Kent.  The museum, which is in this building, was founded in 1897 and is absolutely a must see.  The collections in this museum follow a time line through Medway’s history and are housed in two separate buildings.  We saw the hulls where French, English and American prisoners were kept because there was no room in the prisons on land.  Some of these hulls housed prisoners in appalling conditions while they waited to be deported to New South Wales.  The museum also pays tribute to Charles Dickens who lived in Rochester for the latter part of his life.  Evidence of Dicken’s time in Rochester can be found throughout the city, and many objects he describes in his wrtings, such as the clock, can be found here.  The shops in the High Street bear such Dickensian names as “Sweet Expectations”, “Pips of Rochester” and “The Deaf Cat”.  Evidently, Dickens had a deaf cat who sat beside him while he wrote.  We walked along the esplanade of the Medway river in Rochester and then headed for Cambridge.

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