Featured image of Rochester Castle

The History of Rochester Castle

LocationRochester, Kent, England (Google Map)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byEnglish Heritage
Rooms AvailableNo

Rochester Castle is one of the best examples of Norman Architecture in England. It is located on the east bank of the Medway River and offers dramatic views. It is managed by English Heritage and has its name in the list of best-preserved castles in the world. Visit Rochester Castle and get the essence of its history.


Rochester Castle was constructed by Normans shortly after 1066 CE, after the battle of Hastings. The land was acquired from the Bishop of Rochester in exchange for land in Aylesford. The first castle structure was designed using wood and included a dry moat and curtain wall.

Odo Bayeux (d. 1097 CE), the bishop of Bayeux in Normandy, became the owner of Rochester Castle. He later became the Earl of Kent and the second most powerful man in England and used the castle as his base. Later, in 1087, the Odo lost the castle to a siege. Between 1087 and 1089 CE, it was rebuilt and converted into a stone structure under the order of William Rufus, the new owner.

In 1127 CE, the castle was granted to Bishops of Rochester by Henry I of England. And the keep we see today was added between 1127 and 1136 CE under his order. In 1172 CE, Henry II of England again worked on the castle and spent over 100 pounds on the project. It was a big amount at that time. In 1206 CE, King John was the next owner of the castle, and he spent 115 pounds on upgrading the castle. However, in 1215 CE, the king had to siege the castle.

In 1215 CE, the Rochester castle had to see some greatest crisis, and it became a pawn in kings, archbishops and barons’ complex game. Later, in July 1215 CE, the castle was given to Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sooner in August, the castle’s ownership was transferred to Peter Des Roches, the Archbishop of Winchester. In September, the controls of the castle were seized by a group of rebel barons led by William De Albini. Later on 11th October, King John sent his troops and besieged the castle. After the attack, the castle was badly damaged and was rebuilt, adding a corner section.

In 1225 CE, other additions were made in the Rochester Castle, like protective walls, fortifying the southern gate, and a deep moat. In 1233 CE, the drum tower was added with the curtain walls. Later, the castle was sieged and besieged many times, and the recent owners did many repairs on it. After the 14th century, the castle was not involved in any military activities, and James I granted it to Sir Anthony Weldon. During this time, various schemes related to the castle came and ended. In 1965 CE, the corporation of Rochester was given a lease to the Ministry of Public Buildings and Work.

Since 1984 CE, the castle has been managed by English Heritage and is open to the public.


Rochester Castle
Rochester Castle”, by Kotomi, is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Rochester Castle doesn’t have any existence of its first structure as it is one of the oldest castles in England. Now the castle you see has a little touch of all its owners. It took the form of Motte and Bailey castle and later got changed due to its weak structure.

The main tower and the gateway you see in the castle are from the 14th century. It has a richly decorated keep with hangings and furnishings from that era. It is built in the southern corner of the castle and has a square plan. These are about 12ft thick at the base and 10ft taper at the top. The primary material of the castle is Caen Stone, the same material used to build White Tower in London. It also includes the turrets, which are approximately 125feet tall. The castle windows are higher up on the walls and are decorated. It has a spiral staircase in the northeast corner.

The northwest and southeast corners of the castle include the small chambers, giving it a symmetrical design. The castle has a simple overall plan with few rooms. Now, the castle might not be seen in its best position, but you can check out its layout, gun runs, original floor, chapel, curtain walls, and towers and explore the gardens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is special about Rochester Castle?

Rochester Castle is one of the oldest castles in England. It had many owners, and each of them was able to leave their presence in its style. You can also notice some original features of the castle from the 10th to 12th centuries. It is situated on River Medway and Watling Street, giving the best views of Rochester.

Can you go inside Rochester Castle?

No, the Rochester Castle can’t be explored from inside. It is currently closed because of maintenance reasons. However, you can go and check out its exterior, structure, and gardens.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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