Rochester was much easy to visit from London than I had expected. You hop on a train and 43 minutes later you are in Rochester. From the train station, it is a casual walk to the shops on High Street, a cathedral and a castle.
The first place we needed to go, was to get a cup of coffee. There are many great choices like Tiny Tim’s, Peggotty’s Parlour, and Mrs. Tickit’s Pantry. We ended up at the Deaf Cat Coffee, simply because I liked the name. The desserts in the case looked very inviting and there was a great selection of drinks you can order.
We ordered two blended drinks that were tasty and fun to enjoy. There was a great view from our seats of the cathedral, basically across the street. This was very convenient as the cathedral was our next stop. As we were leaving the Deaf Cat I stopped by the counter and asked if there was a deaf cat? The answer “no, it’s from a Charles Dickens novel.” That explains the names of some of the other shops, coffee and tea places in town.
Oh, and if you have a sweet tooth across the street is the shop called The Candy Bar. How can you go wrong with a name like that? The candy shop was established in 1985 (okay so not that long ago). There seems to be a lot of candy shops in the UK.
We wandered over to the Cathedral (founded in 604 AD) and discovered the rare book Textus Roffensis is on display there. This is the oldest surviving English law code and the oldest Anglo-Saxon text in existence. It is said to be the basis for the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta later played an influential role in the writing of the US Constitution. The book is kept in a temperature-controlled room off the recently refurbished crypt of the cathedral. (There is a small charge to see the book.) The crypt is beautiful and the cathedral is worth taking the time to explore.
Another stroll across the road from the front entrance of the cathedral we were at the Rochester Castle. Here too there is an entrance fee with an option to rent an audio guide. The audio guide really helps you understand what you are seeing, so I highly recommend getting one. You only need one, as it does not use headphones just a speaker.
This castle is a ruin but one of the best we have seen. All four walls are still there and you can climb to the top floor (6 or 7 floors up). From the top, you have great views of the river and Rochester. It is the first castle we have visited that really helped us “feel” what the castles were like hundreds of years ago.
Rochester is full of history, interesting shops, restaurants, and makes for a great day out from London.