Revisiting Rochester as part of my days out of London series. A day out in Rochester, is as good a place as any to start.
I have been wanting to write a series of days out from London for a while. For no apparent reason, I started at Rochester. Many years ago I remember going to a Charles Dickens Walk, another time, that I visited I bought a black and white trilby hat, and that’s pretty much my memory of those two times.. My first visit was around August 2012, where they had a Dickens festival on.
Charles Dickens references are all over Rochester
Charles Dickens spent his early years from about 5yrs old to 10 being raised in Chatham. His family moved about a lot, as did the writer as he sought inspiration for his fiction. Charles Dickens chose to move back near where he was brought up and moved to Rochester in his older years ;as he loved the area. Dickens certainly moved around, he also lived in Whitstable and several houses in London.
The first port of call was the Cheese Room formally known as Mr Topes restaurant.
This was the last building mentioned in Charles Dickens writing
The plaque mentioned mr Topes a Charles dickens fictional character and this building was apparently one of the last buildings mentioned in his fiction.It is worth a visit. All that was needed was a warm drink and a pan au raison, We were let in on the basis no lingering would be taking place, as tables were fully booked for lunch. We had a lovely seat next to an open fire in a relaxed atmosphere.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
You will find a reference to Dickens a lot in this glorious small city. Although this cafe was closed for refurbishment. I got the impression, If you want to start a food business you could do well here. If I had the resources I would open a vegan cafe. On the menu would be some straightforward every day food. Such as: beans on toast, hummus & roast veg baps, vegan sausage baps , the usual salads and soups,
The next place to visit was the Cathederal
I love the layout and the ambience of a cathederal where the set is ready for a choir. It has been long time since I have heard a real live choir. No performances today .
There were a fair amount of people going in and out and i didn’t go into the castle itself, but will leave do that on another visit. It’s £7.50 to visit including a guided tour. Opening hours are: 10am- 4pm in the winter.
In the castle grounds, The workmen were preparing for the Dickens Christmas fair which will be on every weekend starting end of November.
Rochester Bridge looking from the grounds of the castle
Nothing much to report here. There were a few food stalls and as well the usual early xmas stalls. I know how much people need money now and you can’t blame people for wanting to cash in on that . Although I think there are a lot more creatives out there hiding behind closed doors that have a lot more to offer, than glitter and reindeers..
History of rochester as a haven for refugees.
Rochester is a small city with a big history
I do recall visiting this interesting historical museum on one of my visits. Unfortunately it is presently closed until May 2022.. On my last visit it was impressive to imagine how life was as It has preserved the rooms in their original state. A safe haven for weary refugees. in the 16th & 17th century.
ROCHESTER hosts BRITAINS ONLY MUSEM OF HUGUENOT HISTORY.
Who were ThE Huguenots.? They were french refugees fleeing from French Catholic oppression. When you consider how busy and important the medway river would have been in those days, it would have been the port to the continent & the only mode of transportation, they French had fled over seas and were made welcome in Rochester.
The sister of Huguenot Museum The FRENCH HOSPITAl & all the Alm houses is the sister charity, build to house Huguenot refugee. Strange how I hadn’t noticed this on my last visit. Coincidentally, having just started listening to an audible book named The Hezbollah Hiking Club, written and narrated by Dom Joly (creator of trigger happy,)Joley mentions some of his family descending from the huguenots.
ANOTHER LOCAL HERO is Billy Childish
I love this mural, and by the way the Brexit is childish graffiti was not part of the original but I do think it’s stylishly done and makes a great statement/pun on the Billy Childish work. It was commissioned by Sam Collins in 2016 and this was the first time I had come across it. What Billy Childish thinks of this mural and the ‘defacement’ graffiti is anyone’s guess.
Billy Childish for those who don’t know of him is an artist/musician & writer.
I did see one of his exhibitions in the historic Dockyards based in Chatham, At the time I was more interested in the history of the are at that time. The dockyards are well worth a visit. I also saw one of his music shows a few years ago in Camden at the KOKO Club, formally known as The Music Machine. Billy Childish still lives in Chatam,
My pledge to have a dry november in the run up to xmas hasn’t lasted. I have to say I enjoyed a few Austrian beers and my time in this bar. As is often the case it’s always nice to have an afternoon/early evening drink after a long working week.
Coming up next month
A day out in Faversham. As promised I’m going to just have a day in Faversham as opposed to walking from there to Whitstable. As well I will be joining a group walk on the 8th of December on a Murder and Mayhem Historical theme walk.
lots of xmas parties coming up and come January I will be looking to getting out a lot more in Kent as I team up with some walking groups.
Until then keep on Keeping on.
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