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July, 2016

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Rochester is a great place to stay for a few days as there is so much to see and enjoy. We travelled with friends by train via London – using our Senior Rail cards of course. From St Pancras the journey takes only 35 minutes. We stayed at the Golden Lion a nine-bedroom hotel on the High Street just a short walk from the station. The rooms were very clean, comfortable and surprisingly quiet considering the location in the heart of town. The Medway region of Kent is steeped in history with many places which featured in the novels of Charles Dickens and the writings of Samuel Pepys.

We took a train to Canterbury East railway station. From there it is a short walk to the City Wall where we had a pleasant stroll passing Dane John Gardens. Then we made our way along St George’s Street past St George’s Tower – all that remains of a 14th century church where Christopher Marlowe was baptised. We went to Canterbury Cathedral – the oldest part was built in the 6th century. This is where St Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury after bringing Christianity to pagan Britain. The building is famous as the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas a Becket. There are some very knowledgeable guides within the cathedral and it is truly magnificent. We walked down some very quaint streets towards the river where you can take a river tour via a flat-bottomed punt.

Rochester itself has a magnificent cathedral and again there were more guides to point out all the interesting facts about the building. The old town is very pretty sitting on the banks of the River Medway. Another impressive building in the town is the castle built in the 12th century. There was a classical concert there when we visited – a “last night of the proms”. It really was spectacular with a military band, great singers and finishing with a dazzling firework display.

A short bus ride away is Chatham Royal Dockyard associated with many historical figures such as Sir Francis Drake and Lord Nelson. The most complete dockyard of the age of sail in the world, it is linked to important events in history such as the Spanish Armada. While the men spent an afternoon exploring this area, we women had a great time browsing around the local charity shops. Yes, it is well worth visiting Rochester for a weekend!


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