Rochester is a charming place easily visited on a day tour from London by either train or vehicle.
It is particularly associated with the great writer, Charles Dickens. Many of the buildings feature in his novels and we will see the house which inspired Miss Havisham’s in Great Expectations. Although in private hands it is opened on certain days in the summer. We will visit the unique almshouses of The Six Poor Travellers with its lovely herb garden at the back, and see the Swiss Chalet he used to write in.
Rochester cathedral dominates Dickens' unfinished final novel Edwin Drood and is worth visiting to see how gothic architecture developed over the centuries. Hear how these great churches were built.
The delightful High Street with its many old buildings house independent shops such as an old fashioned sweet shop and one devoted to lights. The whole place exudes a relaxed charm.
There is a superb free museum telling the fascinating history of the area, and the imposing castle ruins. There are lots of tea rooms too!
Tours by vehicle can also explore the surrounding countryside, including the churchyard which inspired the famous opening scene on the marshes in Great Expectations and the house Dickens spent the last 14 years of his life at Gad's Hill. En route we will pass through orchards as Kent is "the garden of England".
We can have lunch in a village pub mentioned in Pickwick Papers which has Dickens' travelling bag on display as well as lots of atmospheric illustrations from Dickens' novels. Opposite is an old church with the finest collection of medieval brasses in situ.