First Year Visit Rochester Castle

First Year Visit Rochester Castle

On Friday 16 June, three coaches laden with excited First Year Caterham history pupils pulled over the River Medway and drew to a halt in the shadow of Rochester Castle. As we reached these amazing historic grounds our extraordinary history teachers gathered us together and told us what we would be doing that day. To begin with we would visit the cathedral, then look around the castle, get sweets and have a talk at the Guildhall. 

Sitting in the sunshine outside the cathedral, Mr. Hosking and Mrs. James told us many interesting things about the cathedral’s history. Did you know that fighting was not allowed in medieval churches so a criminal could hide there from the law? This was known as claiming sanctuary, and you could stay inside for up to 40 days. This place was the centre of most people’s lives during this time and the spire would act as a landmark for travellers. 

Next up was the castle. This is where lords, or even the monarch, would have lived during this time and has some surprising history. Due to its strategic position, enemies of the king captured this castle in 1215 during the Baron’s Revolt. To recapture it, John’s men dug a tunnel under one tower and propped it up with wooden sticks, then they set it alight with the fat from 40 pigs who were ‘too fat to eat,’ and the tower was destroyed, but it took five more days for the barons to surrender. As a result of the tower being destroyed one tower is a modern circle shape and the others are squares, as shown in the diagram. 

After lunch we went to a delicious sweetshop and then to the Guildhall to have a talk on the Battle of Hastings and on Norman Castles. This was extremely exciting because we got to see Aarav, Aggie and Cam dressed up as knights. We also learnt many interesting things such as, knights wore chainmail armour and would wear a helmet with soft padding on the inside to absorb shocks to the head. Some people got to launch paper at a model castle with a catapult to recreate the tactics during the siege. 

At half past two it was time to go home. We had learned loads about Rochester and the fascinating history all around us, and the trip was very fun and informative. Thank you to all the teachers for taking us, and especially to Mr. Phillips for organising everything. 

Written by First Year pupils 

Rupert M, Oliver J, Ilfat T, and Catherine Y 


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