Welcome to Chatham
Our guide for Rochester and Chatham offers a brief overview of the towns, their attractions, properties, schools, history, council tax and public transport links.
Rochester & Chatham Overview
Historic Rochester and Chatham are towns in the Medway. Rochester is steeped in history with quaint little boutiques, cafés and restaurants, and is home to the famous Sweeps and Dickens festivals. Chatham has a stronger naval history, with Chatham Maritime now being its biggest attraction. Both towns offer excellent rail links into London and out to the coast, making them popular with city commuters and young families.
Rochester & Chatham Shopping
Rochester is famous for its cobbled High Street, which boasts an eclectic mix of boutiques selling things from antiques to high fashion. The town also has the largest second hand book store in England; Baggins Book Bazzar. Chatham has its own traffic-free High Street with an abundance of shops including Debenhams, Primark, TK Maxx and Burtons. The Pentagon Shopping Centre is an indoor mall with a large Sainsbury's, lots of fashion stores and eateries. Chatham Dockside Outlet Centre, housed in a grade II listed building at the dockside, is home to over 40 leading retailers including Trespass, Denby, M&S and Clarks.
Rochester & Chatham Attractions
Rochester is famed for its castle and cathedral, which date back to 43AD. The castle grounds hold many events and attractions, and the castle can be explored at a small cost. The Guildhall Museum and Rochester Cathedral are both free entry. Rochester boasts open parks such as The Vines, to the rear of the cathedral, and Jacksons Field, where you’ll find a swing park, tennis courts and a bowls club. Since the 1980s the town has seen the revival of the Sweeps Festival, which died out in the early 1900s. It has grown from a small local gathering to one of the largest in the world. The Dickens Festival is held in the summer while the atmospheric Dickensian Christmas Festival is a seasonal treat.
Chatham’s premium attraction is Chatham Maritime on the edge of the River Medway. It is home to the Dockside Outlet Centre, the Historic Dockyard visitor centre, a nine-screen cinema, and various bars and restaurants. Further attractions include the Royal Engineers Museum located on the Chatham/Gillingham border and Dickens World museum located close to the Dockside Outlet Centre. Chatham also has a bowling alley and two theatres – The Central Theatre and The Brook Theatre.
Rochester & Chatham Food and Drink
Rochester High Street has many coffee shops, bars and award-winning restaurants, one of the most famous being George Vaults - a Grade II* listed building (formerly a secret wine vault for the Kings and Queens of England) restored and now used for dining and functions. At night the High Street comes alive with music and dancing, while the Casino Rooms is Rochester’s very own nightclub.
Chatham offers a wealth of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and cafés both along the High Street, in the local neighbourhoods and at the Dockside Outlet Centre. Family-friendly dining can be found at Zippers, Nando’s, Pizza Hut and Chimichanga, while the Ship and Trades is a contemporary restaurant, bar and hotel with outdoor seating overlooking St Marys Island marina.
Rochester & Chatham History
Rochester has an expansive history and has grown from a little Saxon village to a historic town. The Romans came over in 43AD and made Rochester by building a stronghold and a bridge over the River Medway. In 1088 after the Norman invasion, Rochester had its first stone castle built on the remains of the old Roman fort. The town was for many years the favourite of author Charles Dickens. He based many of his novels in the area and descriptions of Rochester appear in the Pickwick Papers and Great Expectations.
Until the 16th century Chatham remained a small village on the banks of the River Medway but its location facing Europe meant it was used to harbour warships. Elizabeth I established Chatham as a Royal Dockyard in 1568 and it became a ship and submarine building yard in later years; many hundreds of vessels were launched at Chatham, including HMS Victory. The importance of Chatham Dockyard gradually declined as Britain’s naval resources were reduced or moved to other locations, and the dockside eventually closed completely in 1984. The dockyard buildings were preserved and now Chatham Historic Dockyard is a popular visitor attraction.
Rochester & Chatham Property Market
Property in Rochester is extremely sought after. The town offers riverside living, with extensive houses and apartments along The Esplanade. The majority of the properties are character homes within walking distance of the High Street, offering period living at its best. Moving further out, Rochester has large residential estates close to popular grammar schools.
Chatham has a huge mix of properties ranging from new and pre-owned flats to the premier detached properties along Maidstone Road. Chatham has many ‘Chimney Pots’ – row of terraced properties - which make it an excellent area to invest in as the capital growth offers a good return. Chatham also offers riverside living with St Marys Island being one of the most sought-after areas to live.
Rochester & Chatham Council Tax
Rochester and Chatham are in the borough of Medway and the latest council tax charges can be found here:
Rochester & Chatham Education
Rochester and Chatham boast a wealth of nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools (both grammar and comprehensive). Rochester is home to the University of the Creative Arts and Chatham is the location for the Universities at Medway. Other educational options in the towns include:
Rochester Primary Schools
- Balfour Infant School
- Delce Nursery, Infant & Junior School
- St Margaret's at Troy Town (CE) Primary School
- St Peters Infants School
- St William of Perth Catholic Primary School
- The Pilgrim Primary School
- The Cedars Primary School
Chatham Primary Schools
- All Saints CE Primary School
- Balfour Junior School
- Glencoe Junior School
- Greenvale Infant School
- Horsted Infant & Junior School
- Kingfisher Primary
- Lordswood Infant & Junior School
- Luton Infant & Junior School
- Maundene Primary School
- New Road Primary School & Nursery Unit
- Oaklands Infant & Junior School
- Ridge Meadow Primary School
- Silverbank Park Primary School
- Spinnens Acre Junior School
- St Benedict's Catholic Primary School
- St John's CE (VC) Infant School
- St Mary's Island C of E (Aided) Primary School
- St Michael's Catholic Primary School
- St Thomas More Catholic Primary School
- Swingate Infant School
- Walderslade Primary School
- Wayfield Community Primary & Nursery Unit
Rochester Secondary Education
- Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School
- The Rochester Grammar School
- The Thomas Aveling
- Kings School (Private School)
- St Andrews (Private School)
Chatham Secondary Schools
- Bishop of Rochester Academy (formed by a merger between Chatham South School and Medway Community College)
- Bradfields School
- Fort Pitt Grammar School
- Chatham Grammar School for Boys
- Chatham Grammar School for Girls
- Greenacre School
- St John Fisher RC Comprehensive School
- Walderslade Girls' School
- Rochester Independent College (Private)
- University of the Creative Arts
- Chatham is also the home of Universities at Medway, a tri-partite collaboration on a single campus between:
- University of Greenwich
- University of Kent
- Canterbury Christchurch University
Rochester & Chatham Hospitals
The nearest hospital to Rochester and Chatham is Medway Maritime Hospital based in Gillingham. The closest private hospital is Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham.
Rochester & Chatham Transport Links
Rochester and Chatham both have over ground trains station with frequent trains to Central London and to the coast. A high speed service to London St Pancras is available, taking just 34 minutes from Rochester and 36 minutes from Chatham. Trains also travel to Ebbsfleet International, Charing Cross, Victoria, Bromley South, Canterbury and Margate. Buses run to Bluewater, Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre and Maidstone Town Centre, and both towns are well linked to the A2/M2, the A229 and the M20.
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To make sure we turn enquiries into viewings, we are available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Our longer opening hours are a huge advantage when selling a property. Ask a member of staff to show you their diary on a Sunday and you’ll be amazed by the number of appointments.