I’m going to share a photographic journey that I made yesterday, which took in Rochester and the surrounding area.
This was one of the regular trips organised by the London Photographic Meetup Group, a loose assembly of professional photographers, keen amateurs and beginners. They organise various trips around London and the south east of England throughout the year.
Rochester in Kent was one of the earliest cities to be founded in Britain and was known during the Roman period as Durobrivae, the ‘stronghold by the bridge’. Travelling there from London used to involve quite a lengthy journey, but now you can get there in just over 30 minutes by taking the Javelin along the high-speed rail line out of St Pancras International.
Today Rochester is a pretty market town. It has several notable features, two of which date from the 10th century – both its cathedral and castle were established during this period and today they dominate the centre. There are also many other fine buildings dating from the medieval period onwards – for lovers of old architecture the town is a real treasure.
Here are a selection of images of Rochester Castle and surrounds which were photographed yesterday – the core of the complex dates from 1086 and it has a colourful history – in fact it was actually besieged in 1286 by enemies of King Henry III. Note that some of these were created with ‘high dynamic range’ known as HDR, which I’m just starting to experiment with – it’s an acquired taste but does add extra atmosphere…
Similarly, Rochester Cathedral has our Norman history at its heart – construction of this significant building started in 1080. The architecture in the nave, with its classic roman arches, dates from this period. The last significant addition to the cathedral was made in 1343 when the central tower was constructed. There are many ancient statues and artifacts to see, and it has a fine collection of stained glass windows – a real historical wonder.
Once you’ve had your fill of Rochester proper, there is somewhere else in the immediate vicinity that’s worthy of investigation. A mile or so along the opposite side of the Medway is the river-front defensive fort, Upnor Castle. Built between 1564 and 1653, the castle was intended to defend the approaches to London from Britain’s enemies – by 1623 it had 18 cannon trained on the river. Unfortunately the castle’s armaments proved singularly ineffective against Dutch raiders in the mid-1600s, who proceeded to destroy ships and cargo along the Thames and Medway with little resistance from Upnor. Surprisingly, the castle remained in active use by the British armed forces until 1945. Today it is a preserved English Heritage site and is an interesting place to visit, as is the cobbled main street of the little village which sits alongside it: