Our rest day started with a lavish breakfast, beginning with a delicious breakfast bar.

first course breakfast bar at North Downs Barn B&B

After breakfast we toured the property and the lovely gardens.

garden at North Downs Barn B&B

Always ready for a little adventure, we called a taxi and headed to Rochester, just 4 miles away. The very visible Rochester Castle, with its commanding position on the River Medway, immediately caught our attention.

Rochester Castle

The castle was built in 1080 and its Norman Tower was completed in about 1127 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, then endured three sieges in the 13th-century. The castle fell into ruin in the 17th-century and is now the tallest medieval structure of its type to survive in all of Europe. Visitors today can climb the castle stairs and explore this fortress.

interior of Rochester Castle

Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest cathedral in England, having originally been constructed in 604AD and rebuilt in 1080.

Leaving the castle and cathedral we walked over to historic High Street. Charles Dickens and Rochester have a close relationship. Dickens’ home, Gad’s Hill Place, is located near Rochester, and Dickens often drew on the town’s landmarks to use in his novels. Immediately as we approached High Street we noticed Chertsey’s Gatehouse which became Jasper’s Gatehouse in Dicken’s unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Chertsey’s (or Jasper’s) Gatehouse

Eastgate House was erected in 1590 and is just a short distance from Chertsey’s Gatehouse. Dickens renamed Eastgate to Westgate in his Pickwick Papers and to the Nun’s House in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The building is now a museum.

Eastgate House

Behind Eastgate House is the miniature Swiss Chalet that an actor friend gave to Dickens in 1864. This Chalet was originally assembled in the gardens of Dickens home, Gad’s Hill Place, but across a road. To ease access to the chalet and avoid this busy and muddy street, a tunnel was built connecting the two buildings. This became a great resource during the summer months and the author wrote many of his classic tales there. In 1960, the Chalet was moved near Eastgate House’s Dickens Museum as a tribute to the author.

Dickens’ Swiss chalet

After a little tea and cake, we picked up dinner to take back to the B&B, where we spent a relaxing afternoon.

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