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Historic England Research Records

Rochester Castle

Hob Uid: 416269
Location :
Medway
Medway
Rochester
Grid Ref : TQ7413068560
Summary : The site of Rochester Castle which once controlled the bridge crossing of the Medway on the route from London to Canterbury and Dover. The castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book, although the western curtain wall overlies an earlier Roman wall making it likely that this area of the castle was once within the Roman town of Durobreve. This was rebuilt for William Rufus by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester between 1087 and 1089. The four-storey keep is one of the largest in England. To the north of the keep an irregular bailey is all that can be seen of the 1088 construction. At the east end a section of wall with drum towers, the work of Henry III, survives. In 1127 Henry I gave the custody of the castle to the Archbishop of Canterbury and his successors and shortly afterwards construction of a stone keep began in the southern part of the bailey. The castle was carefully maintained, especially in 1172-73 and again in 1206 when a large sum was spent on its ditches, bridge, tower and other buildings. The castle was strengthened during the reign of Richard I, and during the siege of 1215 the curtain wall and southeast corner of the keep were undermined by King John's engineers. It was repaired in 1221-3. There was another siege in 1264 and the damage to the castle by Simon de Montfort and Gilbert de Clare was considerable. A survey of 1340 shows the extent of the damage. A new building campaign, including a new angle tower, was undertaken in 1367-83 to finally repair the damage done during the siege. This was the last major period of repair. In 1610 James I sold the castle to Sir Anthony Weldon and it remained in his family until the 19th century. The castle grounds were leased from the Earl of Jersey by the City of Rochester in 1870 for use as a pleasure garden, and the remains of the outer gate and drawbridge were demolished by 1872. It was acquired by the City of Rochester in 1884 and is now in the care of English Heritage.
More information : TQ 7413 6856: Castle [NR] (In Ruins) [NAT] (1)

The castle was begun in 1087 but the four storeyed keep was built circa 1130. The latter's south east angle has been rebuilt, probably as a result of the breaching during the siege of 1215.
[See Map Diagram.] (2-4)

Scheduled (5)

As described and in good condition. For details see the map diagram & GP's AO/51/42/7, AO/51/43/1 & 8. Published 1:1250 survey correct. (6)

For archaeological and historical description. (7)

The castle including the castle wall to east and west and the bastion tower to the north. Grade I. First castle on the site built by Archbishop Gundulph in 1080. The present fine Norman keep was built by William de Corbeuil, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1123 - 1136. The keep was deserted by the 16th century and many of its materials robbed. Now in the care of the Ministry of Works. (For full description see list) (8)

Additional bibliography. (9-22)

In the Autumn of 1976 permission was given by Medway Borough Council for excavation in advance of landscaping the area, of a narrow strip of ground lying to the east of the curtain wall and north of tower three. The remains of six ovens or kilns, varying in size or shape, were found, as well as some late 11th and early 12th century pottery, 5 complete loom weights and several fragments, a tentatively interpreted `seige trench' and further traces of Roman wall. (23)

Additional bibliography - not consulted. (24-27)

Rochester Castle (formerly listed as the castle). Castle keep, curtain walls and mural towers to bailey. A building of exceptional significance. Built at the bridging point where Watling street crosses the Medway. One of the first Norman castles to be fortified in stone. [Full architectural description] LISTED GRADE I. Scheduled Ancient Monument. (28)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1938
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : A history of fortification, from 3000 BC to AD 1700
Source details :
Page(s) : 82, 162
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : 1926
Page(s) : 314-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 83
Source Number : 12
Source : English castles
Source details :
Page(s) : 15, 40-2, 45-6, 72, 99
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : GT Clark, 1875
Page(s) : 204-28
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 32
Source Number : 14
Source : Medieval military architecture in England. Volume 1
Source details :
Page(s) : 405-23
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : CH Hartshornel, 1863
Page(s) : 205-23
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20
Source Number : 16
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : E King, 1777
Page(s) : 367-89
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4
Source Number : 17
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : S Denne, 1782
Page(s) : 381-91
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6
Source Number : 18
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Grose's Antiquities 1774
Page(s) : 131-134
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : Timber and iron reinforcement in early buildings
Source details : New series
Page(s) : 15, 17, 33-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 20
Source : West Kent and the Weald
Source details :
Page(s) : 490-1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The castles of Great Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 81-2
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Journal of the British Archaeological Association
Source details : W Beattie, 1854
Page(s) : 215-30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9
Source Number : 22
Source : Archaeologia Cantiana : being contributions to the history and archaeology of Kent
Source details : AC Harrison, 1976
Page(s) : 253
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 92
Source Number : 23
Source : Rochester Castle, 1976
Source details :
Page(s) : 27-60
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 24
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Antiquarian and Topological Cabinet 1808 (J Storer)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 25
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Beattie W. 1844. Castles and Abbeys of England
Page(s) : 133-168
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 26
Source : Mrs Ella Armitage, John Horace Round, G T Clark and early Norman castles
Source details : 1912
Page(s) : 195-201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 27
Source : Cantium : a magazine of Kent local history
Source details : JN Guy Winter 1972-3
Page(s) : 78-85
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Medway, 02-DEC-1991
Page(s) : 1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 29
Source : Rochester Castle Curtain Walls Project : final report 1996-1998
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.B0173A.RO2
Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia Cantiana : being contributions to the history and archaeology of Kent
Source details : GM Livett, 1895
Page(s) : 21-Mar
Figs. : PLAN
Plates :
Vol(s) : 21
Source Number : 5
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1961
Page(s) : 59
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 03-JAN-1965
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Rochester Castle [souvenir guidebook]
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : City of Rochester, 1969
Page(s) : 3
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 806-14
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 10
Source : Town defences in England and Wales: an architectural and documentary study AD 900-1500
Source details :
Page(s) : 158-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1066-1086
Monument End Date : 1086
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1088-89
Monument End Date : 1089
Monument Start Date : 1088
Monument Type : Castle, Curtain Wall, Bailey
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1884
Monument Start Date : 1870
Monument Type : Pleasure Garden
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : 1127
Monument End Date : 1127
Monument Start Date : 1127
Monument Type : Keep
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Strengthened 1189-99
Monument End Date : 1199
Monument Start Date : 1189
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Damaged in 1215
Monument End Date : 1215
Monument Start Date : 1215
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Repaired 1221-2
Monument End Date : 1222
Monument Start Date : 1221
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Damaged in 1264
Monument End Date : 1264
Monument Start Date : 1264
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt 1367-70
Monument End Date : 1370
Monument Start Date : 1367
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1378-83
Monument End Date : 1383
Monument Start Date : 1378
Monument Type : Angle Tower
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Altered c1872
Monument End Date : 1882
Monument Start Date : 1862
Monument Type : Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : PC07961
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : KE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24349
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 172927
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 213
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 107767
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Kent)
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 76 NW 589
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : BB008555
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA001925
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : BB008556
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC000893
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC000894
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC000895
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC000896
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC000897
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : PC10086
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : PC10929
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : PC10930
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA080108
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TQ 76 NW 93
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : THE CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1899-01-01
End Date : 1905-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON TQ 76 NW 92
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-03
End Date : 1965-01-03
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE, GEORGE LANE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1974-01-01
End Date : 1975-12-31
Associated Activities : CURTAIN WALL EAST, ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1985-01-01
End Date : 1985-12-31
Associated Activities : EAST CURTAIN, ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE GROUNDS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE (KEEP FLOODLIGHTS)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT ROCHESTER CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : ROCHESTER CASTLE CURTAIN WALL
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31