Rochester Castle is probably the first castle I ever visited, certainly the first I can remember visiting, and remains to this day the archetype by which I judge all others.
Apart from the external staircase up to the entrance, it hasnʼt changed much in the sixty or so years since I was last there.
One of three Royal Castles in Kent, along with Canterbury and Dover, it protected the route between London and Channel, and the strategic crossing point of the River Medway.
The current keep was built in around 1127 by William of Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, although the site had been fortified since shortly after the conquest.
It suffered serious damage in 1215 when King John recaptured it from a group of rebel barons. After a long siege, the attacking troops undermined the keep. Then using the the fat of 40 pigs to set fire to the mine props and brought the southern corner tower crashing down. It was rebuilt with a rounded external corner for extra strength.
The castle remained as a viable fortress until the sixteenth century by which time it was starting to decay. It was sold by James I to Sir Anthony Weldon, whose family owned it until 1870 when it was bought by the Corporation of Rochester. It is now in the care of English Heritage and managed by Medway Council.
Three stories high, the views from the top are magnificent and well worth the climb.