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Rochester Castle is located on the east bank of the Medway River in Rochester, Kent County. Lock, standing on the ancient road of Watling Street, was a strategically important point, protecting the south-east of England.

The first Rochester Castle was built after the Norman Conquest and was given to Bishop Odo, half-brother of William the Conqueror. During the war for the English throne 1088 year Odo supported the eldest son Wilhelm – Roberta. For this, King William II the Red laid siege to Rochester Castle. After Odo's surrender, the castle was abandoned. Nothing is known about the appearance of the first castle, even the exact place of its construction.

IN 1087-89 gg. Bishop Gundulf of Rochester, at the request of King William II, built a new stone castle in Rochester. Despite various restructuring, the castle remains in its original form to this day. IN 1127 year Rochester Castle passed into the possession of the Archbishop of Canterbury William de Corbeille, at the same time, the donjon that has survived to this day was built.

Rochester Castle was besieged during the 13th century unrest – First and Second Baronial Wars. The castle was last captured and plundered during Wat Tyler's Peasant Uprising in 1381 year. Fire, what happened at the end of the Middle Ages, destroyed the floors and roof of the castle. In this form, he remained to this day English Revolution 17 century has not touched the castle, despite, that the city itself was captured by the royalists in 1648 year.

IN 19 centuries around the castle laid out gardens. The ruins of Rochester Castle served as an inspiration for both artist William Turner, and for the writer Charles Dickens. Rochester Castle and its gardens are open to the public from 1870 of the year.

Lock, built on the ruins of the Roman city walls, surrounded by a 12th century wall, however, in the 19th century it was demolished and a new one was built. The gate was rebuilt in the 13th century. The castle itself, its walls and towers are built of Kent limestone.

Despite, that the castle is in ruins, his keep is one of the best-preserved buildings of this type from the 12th century. Donjon – square building, base size 21x21 meters, – built in the southern part of the castle next to the fortress wall. This is the tallest dungeon in England: its height is 38 m. The upper windows are large, and only the uppermost row of windows is decorated. There is a spiral staircase in the northeastern part of the castle, connecting all its floors, and another staircase from the southwest wing leads from the second floor to the third. There are small rooms in the northwest corner tower, maybe the southwest tower was also equipped, rebuilt after destruction in 1215 year during the siege of the castle by the troops of King John Lackland.

Castle overview

According to military historian Allen Brown, the keep of Rochester Castle is one of the finest and oldest in all of England. When it was used as a residence, it was richly decorated with utensils, portraits and furniture. From the outside it looks like a square, whose side length is 21 meter, and at its base there is an additional annex. Pilasters on each side. During the creation of the keep in the southern part of the castle, the main building material was Kent tuff, but the Kan stone was also used, imported from Normandy. Main tower height - 34 m, and the corner elevations are higher by another 4 m. Previously, these outbuildings were gourd. Wall thickness at the base - about 4 meters, and from above - 3,3 m. There is a spiral staircase in the northeast corner, which provides access to any floor. Each of their floors is divided by a transverse wall, built from west to east.

The entrance is in the northern part of the keep on the ground floor level, in a special annex. Previously, the entrance was in the western part of the tower and was protected by a descending lattice. To get from the old entrance to the spiral staircase on the second floor, first it was necessary to round the northwest corner of the tower. A drawbridge with a width of 2,7 m. At some point, the western entrance was dismantled.

The premises of the donjon were divided into separate zones for titled persons, their retinues, and soldier. The first floor was used as storage. On the second floor there was the best castle room with the most complex decoration, with ceiling height 8,2 m. On the same floor there was a chapel the size of 8,5 on 4,6 m. The third floor had a second chapel and there was an exit to the roof, and, perhaps, included additional premises.

View of the Medway River from the top of the keep

Access to the entrance to the underground corridor was in the northwest tower, built at the end of the XIV century in the outer wall. He led towards the river, but has not survived to this day. A fragment of the preserved western wall was built from the same material, as donjon - Kent tuff. This wall remained from the time of the construction of the very first version of the stone fortress, designed by Bishop Gandalf (although it was restored several times). The height of the structure is 6,7 m, thickness at the base - 1,4 m, and the thickness at the top tapers to 0,61 m. Four embrasures were added in the 13th century, although the builders tried to imitate the Norman style of architecture.

The southeast castle wall was also built under the direction of Gandalf., but was mostly reconstructed in the 19th century. A round two-story tower in this section of fortifications has a diameter 9,1 m. Built in the XIII century, she filled the gap in the wall, which appeared after the siege of the castle by John Lackland. The remaining two surviving towers, also two stories high and built of tuff. The closest of them to the donjon, considered elaborate for defense. The last tower was used as a residence and has now been converted into a small house.

Panorama of the South Wall and Donjon of Rochester Castle


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