Now that we have all that silly wedding stuff out of the way, we can go back to what everyone really cares about- castles! I visited quite a few castles in the past few months, including Dover Castle and Deal Castle. Today I would like to introduce you to Rochester Castle, built in 1127, and still standing today. Rochester Castle surprised me, as it had the opposite atmosphere of Dover Castle. The touristy feeling one often gets visiting famous sites, was seemingly absent from Rochester Castle, except for a small gift shop. This made it love at first sight for this girl.
I previously posted on Rochester Cathedral, and my love for the city of Rochester. It is easy to see why Charles Dickens preferred this English town above all others. The walk to the castle from the train station is full of history, and you will notice plaques on every other building hinting at their varied backgrounds. When you arrive at Rochester Castle, you are met by the looming gate ruins, with strange, out-of-place gravestones, settling in the former moat. The fantastic thing about this castle is that it is, in fact, in ruins. There have been no fancy renovations recreating the rooms of the former occupants, there is no banquet hall to see (as the floor it once stood on is long gone) and there are not costumed characters walking the grounds. Yet, the ruins transport you. Without all the tourist distractions you are left to your own devices; imagination is allowed to take over.
The story of the castle goes something like this:
Once upon a time (1127) an Archbishop of Canterbury by the name of William of Corbeil, was encouraged by King Henry I to build a fortress near the River Medway. The fortress was very successful, with the exception of one siege by some guy named King John in 1215. They rebuilt, and more or less, was what you see today. Rochester Castle was used until the 16th Century, where it was left to fall into a state of ruin.
Walking through the interior of the castle was very special. The floors are long gone, but with the map you receive with your ticket you are able to see where all of the castle’s rooms once stood. There was a moment of absolute magic; examining the ancient stonework, walking the long abandoned halls. Do you ever sit back and think how amazing it is to visit a place like this? They are time machines. Allowing you to go back in time, see how people lived, and trace their footsteps. Is there anything more extraordinary?
You are free to roam independently throughout the castle, which doesn’t take much time. I eventually made my way to the top, rewarded with scenic views of Rochester, the River Medway, and Rochester Cathedral. I spent a long time walking around on the roof (Do castles have rooftops?) thinking of the knights and Kings and other fantastic characters that once resided there. I wonder why English history is growing on me…
Rochester Castle is a charming place to visit. Don’t expect people hawking souvenirs as you arrive, you are much more likely to see locals sitting under the castle ground’s trees with their families. This English Heritage site is not exactly a ‘must-see’, but you should definitely stop by if you get a chance. Rochester makes a terrific day-trip from London, and there is plenty around the city to keep you occupied and entertained. I have visited six or seven castles in England now, and Rochester Castle remains my favorite.
Thanks for stopping by here on Travel Tuesday, what is your favorite castle?