Nine of the best villages near Rochester, Kent
Posted 12 January 2016 by Helen Christie
The town is part of the Medway Unitary Authority area, which also includes the towns of Chatham, Gillingham and Strood.
The Kings School in Rochester is the second oldest school in the world, founded in 604AD, while Rochester Castle dates back to the time of William the Conqueror and boasts one of the best Norman Keeps in Europe. Today, Rochester has a busy high street, with many buildings dating back to the 1400s and 1800s. The town is home to the annual Sweeps and Dickens Festivals, which attract tens of thousands of visitors.
Victorian author Charles Dickens lived in his beloved Gad's Hill Place in the village for many years until his death in 1870. The house, a Grade I listed building, is now a part of an independent school and popular tourist destination. Lower Higham, known locally simply as Higham, is the oldest area, adjacent to the railway station. The now redundant St Mary's Church is open to the public and contains one of the oldest pulpits in Kent, dating back to the 1500s, and Higham retains one pub and a garage along with many period homes. Upper Higham, the newer and much larger part of the village, has a school, village hall and recreation ground.
Halling is five miles from Rochester, on the south-facing slopes of the Medway Valley. The village has its own railway station, with high speed services to London St Pancras via Strood in around 50 minutes. Once a bustling chalk quarrying area, the village enjoys good road links with the nearby M2 and M20 motorways, making this a popular place for commuters.
Upnor is a delightful waterside hamlet, three miles north-east of Rochester. With its smaller neighbour, Lower Upnor, the village is home to many pleasure yachts. Upnor Castle is built out into the river and was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I as a gun fort to defend her naval base at Chatham. The pretty, narrow cobbled high street leads down from the castle and is lined with well-kept homes leading to the waterfront.
Burham is a pretty village on the slopes of the North Downs, five miles south of Rochester. Voted Kent Village of the Year in 2008, Burham is home to around 1,300 people. Inhabited since Roman times, Burham now has a vibrant village scene.
Cliffe is an historic village, six miles north of Rochester on the Hoo Peninsular. Overlooking the Thames marshes, the village laid its roots in the wooden church built by Offa, King of Mercia in 774. The pretty High Street is lined with many white weather-boarded homes and more recent Victorian additions, while more modern estates have been built in what was surrounding farm land.
Aylesford is a delightful Kent village located seven miles downstream of Rochester. High Speed rail services from the village to London St Pancras via Strood take just under an hour, and Kent's county town of Maidstone is a few miles away via the A20 or M20 motorway. Aylesford Priory, built in 1242, remains home to the Carmelite monks of Aylesford, and is open to the public.
The Isle of Grain is a small community at the very tip of the Hoo Peninsula, where the Medway and Thames rivers meet. With a population of under 2,000, the village has a post office, school, village hall and a small number of shops.
Cuxton is a small village in the Medway Valley, four miles west of Rochester. The settlement dates back 200,000 and has been a site for chalk extraction from the North Downs hills for many centuries. Many local groups and associations ensure a busy social life in the village, with a small parade of shops, popular primary school and church at the heart of village life. Cuxton sits within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Hoo St Werburgh
Hoo St Werburgh is a large village five miles north-east of Rochester. Its residents enjoy a wide range of village amenities, including shops, a bank, mini-supermarket, primary and secondary schools, pubs and village halls. The village, which takes its name from a Mercian princess, has benefited from a number of new housing developments, while its location adjacent to the River Medway makes it popular with walkers and visitors.