The Parish Church of St Nicholas stands
alongside Rochester Cathedral, and is rather dwarfed by it, being
something that few people notice. It was built between 1421-1423 as
the result of a disagreement. In the Saxon period the
cathedral had always served as the parish church, but after the
establishment of a monastery there, monks and parishioners
quarrelled as to their rights, and this new parish church was built
as a result, to cater to the needs of the townsfolk.
In 1549, St Nicholas had the former parish of St
Clement attached to its own, as this example of one of the three
ancient parishes of Rochester was no longer required. The church
underwent rebuilding work in 1624, although the extent of that work
is unknown. A fire swept through it in 1892, and further work was
needed to restore it. In 1964 it was converted for use as
administrative offices for the diocese of Rochester and now sits
hidden behind a screen of trees.
West Kent Quakers are based on
Northgate, just a little to the north-east of the cathedral in
Rochester and on the corner with the extremely busy Corporation
Street. Attracting between twenty and forty people on Sundays, this
local congregation in its simple red brick building is a member of the West
Kent group of meetings that are based in Gravesend, Maidstone,
Rochester, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
Rochester Baptist Church is at The Moat
House, on the northern side of the narrow Crow Lane which leads away
from the High Street. The original church here was built in 1890
(the smaller building on the far right). By 1907 a larger building
was needed, and the main church was built. The old church was
converted into a school and today serves as the Baptist Institute.
The old church was in use again in the 1980s while the main building
After the renovations were complete, the
Institute was used by a community care organisation for a while
before returning to the church. A large stone inset on the lefthand side of the
church reads, 'In grateful memory of the Protestant Martyrs of
Rochester...' and goes on to name several men of note who had local
links and who were burnt during the reign of Queen Mary I, or
'Bloody Mary', and her short-lived Catholic Restoration.
The Vines United Reformed Church is
further west on Crow Lane, on the south-eastern side of the road.
The church was originally built between 1853-1854 as a Congregational
Church, before being converted to a URC church during the 1972 union
with the Presbyterians. The main church building is now owned by King's
School Rochester, and is named Vines Hall. The URC congregation meet in
a smaller, modern attachment at the rear.
St Margaret's Church is just 400 metres or so
(a quarter of a mile) south of the cathedral. When the first church was
built here is unknown, but there was a Saxon settlement nearby which
suggests the seventh or eighth centuries. The list of vicars begins in
1272, but the Norman church is known to have been established by the
early years of the same century. The tower was built (or heavily rebuilt)
between 1458-1465 from flint and Kentish ragstone.
Today's church mostly dates from the first half of the
nineteenth century. By the 1820s it was clear that the old church would
not be able to cope with the expanding population, so it was rebuilt in
stages. The nave was completed by 1824, and the chancel was replaced by 1840.
The tower was the only part to escape rebuilding. Unfortunately, time took its
toll on the wooden bell frames, and between 1999-2006 they fell silent until
repairs could be made.
Elim Pentecostal Church is on Delce Road,
at the junction with Star Hill, to the east of St Margaret's. It
sits on the western side of the road opposite a small green which
divides it from Star Hill itself. The church was built in 1856 as a
Congregational Church for a group which was breaking away from The
Vines Congregational Church. In 1882 the church became Star Hill
United Free Methodist Church but this arrangement came to an end
St Peter's Church and Parish Centre lies
further south on Delce Road. Built in 1974, the modern venue was the
successor to an earlier St Peter on King Street (close to Elim
Pentecostal Church), which had been built between 1858-1860. That
church was demolished in 1973 for reasons unknown. This new building
houses a space for worshippers on a Sunday, but also offers
facilities for other groups such as meditation classes and the
Medway Fossil and Mineral Society.