How many pigs did it take to bring the wall down at Rochester Castle? Looking at the thick stone walls you may well think thousands. You may well thin how can a pig bring a wall down? During a siege 1215, led by King John, against rebellious barons pit props were used to shore up the keep when it was being pounded by siege engines. King John ordered that the props were to be set alight and they used the fat from forty pigs. This brought one of the corners crashing down. It was rebuilt later but the damaged area is still visible.
The Castle dates back to 1066 was originally a timber keep but was rebuilt of stone in the early C12th. It is strategically placed along the London Road and a crossing point on the River Medway.
It’s a massive stone structure used to protect from invaders coming up the Medway. Consisting of three floors and a basement, it stands 113 feet high. The floors no longer exist but you can still see the insets where the immense timbers rested. How did they get them up three floors? You can’t fail to be impressed with medieval engineering.
From the top of the tower you still get great views that remind you of the town’s proud history. Daniel Defoe visited in the 1720s this is what he wrote about the town:
“There is little remarkable in Rochester, except the ruins of a very old castle, and an ancient but not extraordinary cathedral: but the river, and its appendices are the most considerable of the kind in the world.”
The contours of the valley, the estuary and the North Downs are still an exceptional sight; perhaps no longer world class. Closer to the castle are the roof tops of the many Georgian buildings with beautiful patinas and decorative brick work and of course its majestic neighbour The Cathedral.
The view of the riverscape is about to change. Regeneration is about to begin, a new development Rochester Riverside, my heart sinks not more luxury tall buildings that only foreign investors can afford.
However, this scheme looks more promising. It could even be unique; low to mid rise buildings along the riverside. The buildings will vary in height from one to eight storeys and vista corridors are planned so that the heritage views are protected. They are leaving one large blue crane as a nod to the industrial past of the town.
Daniel Defoe – A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies. 1724-28