Rochester Cathedral

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 20th April 2012


It is the second oldest Cathedral in England having been founded in 604 AD. The present building dates back to 1080 and the French Monk Gundulf.

It has one of the finest Romanesque facades in England and became a place of pilgrimage after the murder of a Scottish baker, William of Perth who was brought to the Cathedral and at his shrine miracles were reported. No trace of his shrine remains today.

Rochester is a Cathedral well worth a visit but if you are doing a Cathedral circuit, look at Rochester before Canterbury because, in my humble opinion, there is nothing like Canterbury. However Rochester charges no admission fee and only a small amount for the Audio guide which is very good. Don’t know how they manage to keep it in good repair without charging a fee unless they get help from the local Council. Canterbury certainly gets nothing – nor does it from the Church. When people – very few – object to the entrance fee I tell them that a very large proportion of our visitors come for the History and the Architecture and how else does one pay for the continual renovation. It is like the Forth Bridge – as soon as you’ve repaired one part, another one needs attention.

The nave at Rochester is a fine one though not as long or as tall as ours at Canterbury. The Cathedral was plundered when King John held it against his rebel barons in 1215 and later desecrated by Simon de Montfort’s troops when they captured the city. And of course it was damaged by Cromwell’s soldiers.

There is a huge John the Baptist Fresco (not to my taste but that’s a subjective view) which was created in 2004 on the 1,400th anniversary of the Cathedral and the diocese of Rochester.

Two things remain in my memory. One was the plaque to Lieut. J.R.N Chard who was awarded a VC for his part in the defence of Rorke’s Drift against overwhelming Zulu Impis. I’m not sure why it is in Rochester Cathedral because he was actually buried at Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset. In the film ‘Zulu’ his part was played by Sir Stanley Baker. In fact there is a picture on the Internet of Sir Stanley crouching by the grave and it is in the possession of Lady Baker.

I took this off the internet -
It has been ascertained that, a named cast copy Victoria Cross to "Lieut.J.R.Chard Royal Engrs,22/23 January, 1879" and a South Africa Medal,l877-l879,with clasp '1879',to "Lieut.J.R.N.Chard VC.RE." were auctioned by Glendinings of London,on l7th. May,1972 and sold for £2,700, to Sir Stanley Baker, the film actor who played the part of Lieutenant Chard in the film 'Zulu' in 1964 and, who, incidently, also died of cancer.   Photo below

The other memory was of the Cross of Lorraine over one of the Stalls in the Quire. There was a rope across the Quire so I couldn’t investigate further but, with my ongoing interest and intense efforts to have a documentary made about my sponsored French pilot, René Mouchotte, the Cross of Lorraine seems to attract me like a magnet.
Well worth a visit – especially coupled with a visit to The Keep – but do look at Rochester before Canterbury and that way you won’t be disappointed.

Just in case you missed it in previous Blogs, my friend the Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, put together this little tribute to René which you can watch by copying and pasting onto Google or whatever search engine you use.


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