The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.389322, 0.477858

8 Annotations

First Reading

michael j. gresk m.a.  •  Link

england 2nd oldest cathedral foundation-founded 604. an eclectic combination of norman, romananesque, early english and gothic. a bit of victorian 'gingerbread'. smallest cathedral in england. a wonderful day-trip excursion from london.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sadly Pedro's link is dead. The City of Rochester has a history page at… But in case it dies, here is the short version:

Rochester is an old city; there was an important settlement here well before the Roman occupation of Britain in AD43. It was also where the ancient highway which later became part of the Roman Watling Street, forded the River Medway. The Romans probably built the first bridge and fortified the town, which became known as Durobrivae – ‘The Stronghold by the Bridge’.

The first Christian church in Rochester was established in AD604 and Justus (a contemporary of St. Augustine) was appointed its first Bishop. The Norman’s recognised Rochester’s strategic importance and a castle was built here soon after William’s Conquest of 1066. The city received its first charter from Richard I in 1190.

The River Medway divides the County of Kent in two, separating the ‘Men of Kent’ on the East Bank from the ‘Kentish Men’ on the West.

Many Kings and Queens visited Rochester: In 1540, Henry VIII came to see the woman who was to be his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves -- and wasn't happy. Elizabeth I came to Rochester in 1573, staying at the Crown Inn (still standing at the bridge end of Rochester High Street, albeit much changed). She also stayed at the home of Richard Watts, MP for Rochester. Watts’ former home is known as ‘Satis House’ in tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s comment when asked how she had enjoyed her stay.

James I visited the city three times. In 1625, Charles I passed through on his way to Dover. In 1660, Charles II stayed overnight at the home of Sir Francis Clerke, prior to his restoration to the throne. The house, known since then as ‘Restoration House’, was the inspiration for Miss Haversham’s house in Dickens’ Great Expectations. In 1688, James II was a semi-prisoner in a house on the High Street before his escape to France (this house is now known as ‘Abdication House’).

Samuel Pepys visited Rochester and Chatham in 1661, and again in 1667 to view the damage done by the Dutch Fleet following its attack on Chatham Dockyard. [HA! We know better!]

The personality most often associated with Rochester is novelist Charles Dickens. He spent his early childhood in Chatham, where his father was employed as Clerk to the Pay Office. Young Dickens and his father would go for long walks through the surrounding countryside and it was on these walks that Dickens first saw and admired Gad’s Hill Place in nearby Higham. This house, about four miles from Rochester on the road to Gravesend, was to become Dickens’ home from 1859 until his death in 1870.

Rochester features in Dickens’ work more than any other town except London, either by its own name or a fictitious one – ‘Cloisterham’ in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ and ‘Dullborough’ in the ‘Uncommercial Traveller’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A contemporary view of Rochester is given by Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin, who visited it on 27 May, 1669.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs. Sometimes I got confused making the N.S./O.S. date conversions, so I apologize if they are wrong:

[H]is highness landed at Rochester, and took a short walk through the town. He saw nothing worthy of notice, except the Gothic cathedral, which is deprived of all internal ornaments, like all the others in England; and the castle, which is a square building, and, according to an ancient tradition among the common people, is said to have been erected by Julius Caesar.

It stands near the cathedral, and also near the bridge across the Medway, the latter of which has a parapet surrounded by an iron balustrade, to shelter passengers from the wind.

His highness then went to the quarters bespoken beforehand for him by his courier, having fixed upon the following day for his return to London.

His highness passed the evening in his own room, supping alone, and his gentlemen in their usual way.

Rochester in former times was a very t^soaU place but now, being greatly encreased by the erection of new houses, and by the population of the villages, which extend to a great distance along the Medway, on which it stands, it has not only become larger than Canterbury, the capital of the county of Kent, but is justly reckoned among the most considerable cities of this very fertile county, and anKH3£: the best in England, its inhabitants being estimated at 16,000 or 18,000, who devote themselves to handicrafts or to the sea-service.

It is 8 miles from Gravesend, 12 from the sea, and 26 from Canterbury.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The buildings of this town are for the most part constructed after the English fashion, low and narrow, with pointed roofs; the windows project outwards, forming as it were, a gallery with several angles and from the large quantity of glass, they render the front part oi the houses transparent, and the habitations way can PDodioos and lightsome.

There is a cathedral church here, which owes its foundation to Ethelbert, King of Kent, who, besides furnishing tbe materials for building it, supplied an endow for tbe maintenance of the episcopal dignity, which is at present filled by Dr. Dolben, Dean of Westminster, who has the title of Bishop, and enjoys the revenues of this see, valued at 400/.s sterling per annum.

The castle, and the bridge which is not far from it, are the most remarkable things in the place: the first for the antiquity which it evinces; the second for its numerous stone arches and its mass strength, bv means of which it safely resists the violence of the tide, which comes op with great force.

At low water it affords a secure retreat for the ships of the fleet which come to an anchor there, and also furnishes facilities for taking the fish which breed in the river in great abundance, and more especially for catching salmon, which come up from the sea.

In temporals, the city is governed, according to the universal custom of the kingdom, by the ordinary magistracy, consisting of the mayor and aldermen: causes being carried, by appeal from this jurisdiction, to tbe sheriff and judges, who are despatched from the courts of Westminster throughout the provinces.



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"from the large quantity of glass, they render the front part of the houses transparent, and the habitations way can PDodioos and lightsome."

Some scanning errors are just too delicious to even try to correct.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Date Candidate
12 Apr. 1660 PETER PETT…
JOHN MARSHAM https://www.historyofparliamenton…
2 Nov. 1667 RICHARD HEAD https://www.historyofparliamenton…
19 Feb. 1679 SIR JOHN BANKS, Bt.… ...
Sir Francis Clerke

The proximity of the Chatham shipyard gave the Government a strong interest in Rochester, and in normal times the cathedral chapter had considerable influence, in 1686 estimated at 50 votes.

In 1660 Peter Pett, navy commissioner at Chatham, who had represented the city in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, and John Marsham, a neighbouring country gentleman, were returned. Marsham had been a Cavalier and Pett was trying to live down his record of support for Commonwealth and Protectorate.

In 1661 Sir Francis Clerke, another active Royalist, reasserted his family interest and was elected ‘nemine contradicente’.
The election of Sir William Batten, surveyor of the navy and a Presbyterian Royalist, may have been contested. He was strongly opposed on behalf of the cathedral interest by the mayor, who swore in the dean, the archdeacon and 10 clergymen as freemen shortly before the election.

Sir William Batten was the only Member during the period who did not live in or near the city, but as surveyor of the navy he enjoyed the Admiralty interest, and through his son Benjamin’s 1658 marriage to Margaret Alcock, the daughter of a wealthy citizen, he must have been well known to the electors.…

In 1662 the Rochester corporation was thoroughly purged under the Corporations Act, 10 aldermen and almost 100 freemen being removed.

Late in 1663 a writ of quo warranto was served on the corporation but the mayor, Richard Head, succeeded in obtaining confirmation of the charter, with the addition of the usual clause requiring crown approval of recorder and town clerk.

Perhaps in gratitude for his efforts, Richard Head was returned as the MP in 1667 at the by-election caused by Batten’s death. Head's politics were uncertain, but he was the only Rochester Member who was neither a placeman nor an outright court supporter.

Before the first election of 1679 Samuel Pepys campaigned vigorously for Sir John Banks. ...

Extracted from https://www.historyofparliamenton…

If you're interested in Pepys' life after the end of the Diary, there are several extracts of letters to and from him in the 1670's later in this blog.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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  • Feb