February 12, 2009 Jennie Chancey

Rochester at LAST!

Well, I can’t even comment on how overdue this is. It’s just way past the embarrassing stage at this point! Here, at last, are photos of what we did on our Saturday in England in 2007! At left is what remains of the original Roman wall in the earliest part of Rochester. It’s really amazing to see something this old.

We were out so late the night before after the performance at the Globe Theater that we nixed the idea of going to Dover and slept in. Our hostess told us that Rochester was a beautiful, charming place to visit, especially if we liked old castle ruins, vintage book shops, and a little Charles Dickens thrown in for good measure! So we ate a leisurely breakfast, then boarded the train for Rochester.

I hadn’t thought to check the railway updates that morning on the ‘net, or I would have seen that part of the line was down. We got about six miles from Rochester and then had to take a bus the rest of the way. That was fine — all we cared about was getting there! The ride there was beautiful almost the entire way. Some of east London isn’t very pretty to look at, but the fields and hills beyond were wonderful. The sky was a postcard blue — just brilliant. We knew something good was in store for our day!

The day was gloriously sunny and mild, and we walked up the hill from the bus station with great anticipation. Rochester is laid out with the main street running up the hill toward the beautiful Cathedral and the ca. 1067 castle (built by William the Conquerer) just beyond. We walked up the main street toward the castle, Lindsay taking pictures as we went. We spied a couple of the antique book shops our hostess had mentioned and mentally filed those away for later. Then we walked past a house that we’d marked down as a “gotta see it” on our list. This house was built in 1590 and features in two of Charles Dickens’s books: The Pickwick Papers and Edwin Drood:

Here’s the plaque from the house:

And here’s the house from another angle — it just screams “English!”

We continued on up the hill, stopping in at the cathedral on our left. This is a magnificent structure–breathtaking from every side. The interior contains some very old carvings and mosaics, and the front door is one massive piece of beauty. Here I am, standing in front of the door:

Here’s the view down the nave as you walk in:

And here are the famous stained-glass windows (which are some of the oldest stained glass windows in Britain, if I remember correctly):

We heard from a docent inside the cathedral that afternoon tea was served in the adjoining tea room past the ruins of the original abbey, so we decided to come back for that after exploring the castle up the hill. Onwards and upwards!

Here Sarah and I stand before the castle.

Looking down from the fourth “story” of the castle interior. You can just see the indentation
around the walls where the floors used to be. This was a huge castle with room for many people. My, it would have been cold in the winter, though! Robert the Bruce’s wife was actually kept prisoner here for a time.

Here I am, peeking through one of the arched openings across the huge interior.

It’s a little dizzying to look down!

There are several crumbling, winding staircases in this castle. In America, they’d be roped off with all kinds of cautionary signs and legal disclaimers. In England, you are free to walk up them at your own risk. Who could resist? Here’s Miss Sarah, coming down one of the windest, slipperiest passages:

Whew! And here I am at the very top of the castle, walking around the railing:

Here’s a view from farther away so you can see how high up we were:

And here’s the wonderful view of the river from the castle:

This is Rochester Cathedral seen from the castle:

Lindsay got a neat shot of Sarah silhouetted in a stairwell on our way back down from the top:

And Sarah managed to snap a fun shot of Lindsay, too:

I’ll come back later to share part two of what we did in Rochester — tea at the cathedral and book shopping in the adorable town!

And, since I forgot my camera Saturday, all photo credit goes to Deep South Images. Thanks, ladies!

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About the Author

Jennie Chancey I launched Sense & Sensibility Patterns in 1998 with my original Regency Gown pattern. I never dreamed I'd one day have over two dozen patterns on the market and would be leading tours yearly in the UK! Enjoy my blog, and let me know if you'd like to travel with us!

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