Rochester Castle

A brief history and an examination of the ghosts of Rochester Castle

Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, started work on building Rochester Castle around 1087.

The History of Rochester Castle

The keep (great tower) was built by William de Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1127, when he was granted custody of the castle. The keep is the tallest in England at over 100 foot high with 12 foot thick walls.

The Archbishops of Canterbury remained in custody of the castle until 1215, when it was taken back by the crown after a seven week seige by King John. During this seige the Castle sustained considerable damage and the southeast tower of the keep collapsed entirely.

In 1264 the rebuilt castle saw more action. From 17-26 April the castle was attacked by two rebel armies. Gilbert de Clare came up from his castle at Tonbridge, then the following day (Good Friday) Simon de Montfort came from London. Within a day they had captured the outer bailey and trapped the defending soldiers, led by Roger de Leybourne, within the keep. A truce was declared on Easter Sunday, but the following day saw more fighting. The castle was extensively damaged by stone throwing machines, and both sides suffered heavy casualties. Simon de Montfort gave up his fight after hearing that the King was approaching with a large army.

After 15th century the Castle fell in decay until 1883 when it was opened to the public.

Rochester Castle

The Ghosts of Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle is said to be haunted by Lady Blanche de Warren who has been seen many times, staggering along with an arrow protruding from her chest. The story goes that she was accidentally killed by her betrothed at Easter in 1264. The arrow was fired by him in an attempt to protect her from the unwanted attentions of a man. Tragically, the arrow bounced off the armour of its intended target and went straight through her heart, killing her instantly.

The ghost of a man, thought to be the writer Charles Dickens, has also been seen near the Old Burial Ground in the moat of Rochester Castle. Dickens loved Rochester and expressed a wish that he should be buried there, but after his death he was deemed to be too important for so humble a resting place and so he is interred in Westminster Abbey.

There are also story of a ghostly Drummer Boy that can be heard beating his drum from time to time at certain hours throughout the night.

Rochester Castle

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