Each year in an attempt to increase tourism in the country, Kent councils and tourist sites have a weekend they offer free tickets. Usually things along the likes of heritage railways and the wildlife parks are always oversubscribed. This year I was actually unable to logon, the screen started refreshing every time I went to type my email and password into it so I gave up trying. Claire did manage to get on and she booked a few places we'd like to try and we were successful with one; Rochester Cathedral. Maybe the religious aspect put people off?
Anyhew, as Sheldon Cooper might say, the trip was yesterday, coinciding with Mothering Sunday which meant that although still in Lent (no decoration in the church) that there was a big turnout for the morning service. Out arrival booked for 1230.
We had a drive up and surprised to say that we have only been to Rochester once before, in the evening for a Christmas Carol concert when one of my nieces was entertaining us.... So it was dark and we didn't get to see much of old Rochester. We parked on the side of the city bypass that keeps traffic off the old High Street and crossed. We were a little early but as it was so sunny we took some pictures of the outside and the castle across the road. Both built by the Norman's on the site of existing churches and castles. The castle commands a view over the entrance to the River Medway.
|Cathedral from the West Gate|
The tour is supposed to last and hour and the guide we had took us around in a small group of six that expanded as "hangers on" joined and left at will. The tour took about an hour forty. The lady was a mine of information about the memorials on the walls and the things that you would never notice without being told.
Rochester is the second oldest Cathedral in England, only Canterbury is older. The masons that worked on the cathedral also worked on the castle and the two began in 1080 only 14 years after William the Conqueror came over from Normandy. They were part of a mobile unit as they also worked on Canterbury, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.
|Organ and Choir|
Once the tour was over we were ready for lunch and we set off out of the north door (the pilgrim's entrance) for the narrow alley to the High Street, and food. We ended up with a Panini in the Rochester Coffee Shop across from the cathedral garden. Not bad.
|Cathedral from High Street|
We then had a walk down the High Street eastwards to Eastgate House and the Dickens Pavilion. The Pavilion was moved here and restored. It is where Charles Dickens used to sit and write his books. It looks a bit drab in the back garden of Eastgate House though.
Once we had stopped at an Italian bakers for some cakes, cannoli's, for dessert and a cake for later at home, we made our way back to the car and home.
Some other pictures from the day: