The weather is changing quickly here in England. We had an absolutely gorgeous summer (Yes, really!) but there is a definite autumnal chill in the air now. Today I want to share my visit to Rochester Cathedral, the second oldest cathedral in England. I love churches. I think even if you aren’t religious,  there is something very special about visiting a place of worship. The architecture and artwork is part of it, but I enjoy exploring them and daydreaming about the politics, murder, acts of valor, and beautiful things that have happened under their rooftops. Fall is the perfect time to take a walk and explore historic temples, cathedrals, and mosques in your area. There is no better place to learn about a region’s history and people than at a church; where locals have congregated for centuries to discuss and make decisions- many of which altered history forever.

 

Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral, from Rochester town centre.

 

Rochester Cathedral is a great example of this. The cathedral can trace it’s origins back to the 7th century. Fast forward to the 1500’s and the foundation you can see today began coming together. As you can imagine, with a history that spans almost 1500 years, there have been a lot of renovations and changes throughout the years. 

 

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Tomb of Walter de Merton, former Bishop and Lord Chancellor of England in the 1200’s.

 

I really took to Walter de Merton here. He has a well-preserved and intricate tomb and I loved the way it is illuminated by the stained glass windows in the background. Not the worst way to be remembered.

 

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The Quire, on the right, is one of the finest surviving paintings of 11th Century England. The beautiful pattern on the left dates to the 1340’s but was repainted in the 1870’s.

 

These paintings on the walls were so bright and colorful. I always feel very grateful when I get to see something like this. Imagine the things that have went on in front of something that has stood in the same place since the 11th century. I’d love to know what they do to preserve it in present-day. If you know, give me a comment!

 

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Fresco painted by Sergei Fyodorov.

 

2004 marked the 1400th anniversary of Rochester Cathedral.  To celebrate the occasion, this beautiful fresco was added to the cathedral’s wall. This is the first fresco to be painted in England in over 800 years! A picture from my phone doesn’t do it justice.

 

The organ contains over 1400 pipes!

The organ contains over 1400 pipes!

 

This organ is huge. It dates back to 1791, and has been tinkered with and added to until present-day.  You can see what the wall paintings look like as a whole here. This was my favorite section of the cathedral; it all comes together so beautifully. 

 

Charles Dickens is not here.

Charles Dickens is not here.

 

Here is some Dickensonian trivia for you. Rochester, Kent has more connections with Charles Dickens than almost any other city. He wrote about the town in many of his novels, most notably The Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens loved the town, and had requested to be buried at Rochester Cathedral upon his death. Unfortunately for him, he had gained such celebrity status over his lifetime, that when he died it was decided that Westminster Abbey would be a better suited final resting place for the author. Poor Charles Dickens.

 

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Rochester Cathedral has been an important part of England’s history for centuries.  This cathedral is very special, and one of those places that stays with you.

There is a nice scavenger hunt for kids at the cathedral help desk, which will help keep them entertained as you walk through. (They will even get a nice sticker upon completion.) Rochester itself is a fascinating town, and there is much to see. Rochester is an ideal day trip from London, and will take you less than an hour to reach the central rail station.

If you can’t visit Rochester Cathedral in person, check out this cool virtual tour!

 

Have you been to Rochester Cathedral? What other attractions would you recommend nearby? 

 

 

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