A free day in London, prior to a business meeting, and I decided to visit Rochester on the River Medway. From London there are several stations you can start your journey, and I decided to take a train from London St Pancras. The journey takes 35 minutes, using the HS1 line as far as Ebbsfleet (added to the 10 minute trip from the nearest station to my hotel, Blackfriars to St Pancras). I could have taken a train from Waterloo East, however that would have taken around an hour and 15 minutes.
So at 1027, Southeastern service with Class 395 011, named after Katherine Grainger, a rower who won medals at the 2012 Olympics, departed St Pancras. Just after 11:00 the train arrived at the new Rochester station, which opened in December 2015, it was a short walk to Rochester Cathedral.
Established in 604, Rochester Cathedral is the seat of the second oldest Bishopric in England, after Canterbury. The original Saxon Cathedral was built in the 7th century, however very little of it now remains. After the Norman conquest, in the 11th century, Bishop Ganduff established a Benedictine Order and commenced building the current structure with plans for a much larger structure that now exists. The cathedral suffered calamity over the years, including fire and plundering by the civil authorities.
A new Quire was built and consecrated in 1227. Unlike other Cathedrals I have visited, the Quire is not panelle, rather it is painted plaster. This will make it much lighter that other foundations.
As with many cathedrals, there is a wide selection of stained glass. The west window is particularly stunning, especially with the winter light coming through.
At the east end of the building is the high altar. The lighting highlights the altar, which contrasts against the rest of the sanctuary and the surrounding stonework.
By the 19th century, the Cathedral was showing the signs of the ravages of time and man. Giles Gilbert Scott was commissioned to carry out major restoration work in 1872, and in 1904 the tower and spire were consecrated.
In the Lady Chapel there were two displays of interest. The first was the Nativity Scene, based around a hiking tent.
The second was the Ramryge Angels. These were designed by Claudia Brown for niches in St Albans Cathedral. a smaller set are on display at the entrance to the Lady Chapel from 10 December to 21 Janaury.
The six angels represent the five stages of grieving, with the sixth and final representing peace.
As the time of my visit, development and restoration was ongoing, with the south side of the Quire and Crypt closed to visitors.
There is a small sales stand in the north transept, which leads out to the pathway round to the east end of the building where there are a tea room and a garden. The tea room, although cosy in size, provided a wide range of food, made to order and home made cakes.