Cathedral Checklist: Rochester

Ages ago I made a list of all the major cathedrals in England with every good intention of getting around to seeing all of them. I managed to check a few off the list since living here but I should probably put a bit more effort in to it. Especially now that it’s easier to get to other parts of the country now that I’m in London.

A few weekends ago I took the 45 minute-ish train ride from my house down to the Kent coast to have a look around Rochester. It has a Norman cathedral and castle, score!

The cathedral is the second oldest in England after Canterbury, though the nave is the oldest in the land; building work began on it in 1083.

Rochester Cathedral

You’ll have to forgive the quality of the external shots. Silly me forgot to charge my camera battery before heading out to take photos, d’oh!

Inside the cathedral is an interesting mix of styles. One end is very much a Norman cathedral and the other is gothic. Where the two meet up is pretty easy to spot:

Norman Arches, 1.5 Gothic Arches

There was a church on the site long before the Norman conquest, going back to 640, but it was in a poor state after invasions from the Mercians and the Danes (bloody Vikings!).

The first thing that struck me about the nave was the flat, wooden ceiling. Compared to other cathedrals (even Norman ones), the ceiling seems a bit plain. However, the dark wood does make it a bit striking.

Rochester Cathedral

I think the thing I liked the most about the place (after that sudden change in style) was the wall tiles in the choir and floor tiles in the apse.


Neat Tile Work

More Tiles

There was also a bit of a Medieval wall painting at the end of the choir. Would be interesting to know if there were paintings like this throughout the cathedral at some point.

Medieval Decor

One last thing I got a shot of before my camera konked out was of the Pilgrim Steps. The cathedral used to be a pilgrimage destination back when that was all the craze. The shrines and relics were so popular that offerings left at one of the tombs was able to fund the building of the choir and the completion of the cathedral. The stone steps leading up to the tombs are so worn out they are now covered with wooden planks.

The Pilgrim Steps

There’s a decent timeline of Rochester Cathedral at its official website. More of my photos of it and of Rochester in general are over on Flickr.