The lively town of Rochester (formerly a city) is one of the Medway towns in Kent - "The Garden of England" - and is located at the lowest bridging point on the River Medway about 30 miles east of London.
Rochester has a varied and tumultuous history dating beyond the Roman Conquest to the Neolithic period. The bishopric and cathedral were established in AD604 with the building of the current cathedral occuring during the Medievel period. The Diocese of Rochester, the second oldest in England after Canterbury, is based at the stunning Cathedral which is Grade 1 listed and was responsible for the founding of Kings School in 604AD, the second oldest continuously running school in the world.
The nearby Rochester Castle is also a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled monument currently under the guardianship of English Heritage and is open to the public. The 12th century keep, or stone tower, is the castle's most prominent feature and is one of the best preserved in England or France. Today, the castle is the centre of many annual events including the popular castle concerts during the summer months.
The town was for many years a favourite of Charles Dickens and he based many of his novels in the area. Descriptions of the town appear in Pickwick Papers, Great Expectations and The Mystery Of Edwin Drood. Elements of two houses in Rochester - Satis House and Restoration House - are used for Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations. The association with Dickens is the theme for Rochester's two Dicken's Festivals held annually in June and December. For streets alive with stalls, carol singers and lamp lit parades don't miss the atmospheric Dickensian Christmas every December. Among the numerous other festivals in Rochester is the Sweeps Festival - a May Day dancing chimney sweeps tradition which, since it's revival in 1980, has grown to one of the largest in the world.
Throughout the picturesque High Street, you will find a wide range of individual shops including antique shops, art gallerys, jewellers, craft shops and book shops including Baggins Book Bazaar - England's second largest second hand book shop. For an evening out, you will be spoilt for choice with a large selection of bars and restaurants.
Rochester is served by a number of highly regarded primary and secondary schools including two grammar schools - Rochester Girls Grammar School and The Joseph Williamson Mathematical School, plus two independent schools - the internationally famous King's School and Rochester Independant College. Further education institutes include Mid Kent College, University For Creative Arts and Dance Junction.
Rochester is also well placed for access to the motorway network via the A2/M2 which runs through the Medway towns from London to the east coast, or the M20 which can be accessed from the A229, both of which connect to the M25 - London's motorway ring road.
The town's public transport infrastruture is currently being improved with a new £26 million railway station due to open in 2015 which will give Rochester access to the High Speed link and continue to provide services to St Pancras, Victoria and Charing Cross as well as the Kent coast. The majority of services are provided by South Eastern and the railway station is on the Chatham mainline. Our bus services are operated by Arriva Southern Counties. Rochester even has an airport, which is an operational general aviation aerodrome with a CAA ordinary licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee.
Rochester is a popular residential area with a varied selection of housing stock. Much of the town centre is a designated Conservation Area with a wealth of small and large period properties - many with views of the castle and the cathedral. In contrast, there are an increasing number of contemporary developments including The Esplanade bordering the River Medway, which offers a variety of properties ranging from one bedroom flats to four bedroom detached houses. Rochester Riverside is currently under construction and is a 74 acre site which will include 1,500 new homes, a new primary school, office space, shops and restaurants. The site is the largest of the Thames Gateway sites in Medway. Rochester is an extremely popular place to live with demand to purchase or rent a property often outweighing demand.
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