‘England’s second oldest Cathedral was founded in 604AD by Bishop Justus, the present building dates back to the work of the French monk Gundulf in 1080’ (rochestercathedral.org).
Jacob Scott is director of both Heritage4D and the Rochester Cathedral Research Guild and as such the 3D model database from Rochester is at a more advanced stage than those from other sites. These models are in the process of being published in archaeological reports on the guild’s website: rochestercathedralresearchguild.org
Above are some of the best models from around the cathedral and precinct. Numbers below correspond to the glass audio guide panels placed around the cathedral, follow the links to view the full galleries from each area. Models can be used to view high objects up-close or see objects not currently on public display.
1. The Nave The Nave is the main body of the cathedral, the setting for Sunday services and large events. The people of medieval Rochester worshipped here, whilst monks and priests held separate services in the Quire. The long view all the way up the cathedral towards the High Altar was designed to symbolise a spiritual journey, rising upwards towards God.
2. Norman and Anglo-Saxon cathedral reconstructions The cathedral saw several major phases of rebuilding, but the Nave provides a good sense of the original Norman construction. It was begun in the 1080s and partially rebuilt following a fire in 1137. The sturdy columns, rounded arches and jagged chevron patterns are all features of the Romanesque style favoured by the Normans.
3. The Crossing Seen from above the cathedral is built in the shape of a cross. The crossing marks its mid-point, an architectural reminder of the faith that inspires its life. At the top of the steps are figures of special significance in the cathedral’s history including Gundulf, the 11th century bishop, architect and engineer.
4. The North Nave Transept The fresco here, by Russian iconographer Sergei Fyodorov, was completed in 2004, the 1400th anniversary of the original foundation of the cathedral. It portrays Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist (above), and the baptisms of the King and people of Saxon Kent (below, left and right).
5. Pilgrims Passage Countless pilgrims over the centuries came here, up these steps, to the shrines of saints once buried in the cathedral. The steps’ stone treads are worn away, a reminder of those many journeys to seek God.
6. North Quire Transept For hundreds of years, medieval pilgrims to Rochester came to this spot to pray at the shrine of William of Perth, a pilgrim himself who became a saint.
7. Quire The spiritual centre of the building, where the cathedral community worships daily. It’s many colourful features include a rare wall painting of the Wheel of Fortune from the 1200s, one of England’s finest.
8. Sanctuary Containing the High Altar, the sanctuary is the most spiritually significant part of the cathedral. The lamp hanging in front of the altar is constantly lit, symbolising hope and eternal life. Its continual presence also represents God who is waiting for us to stop, to look for him, and to find him.
9. South Quire Transept The elaborately carved doorway in this area dates from the 1340s. Rochester’s medieval monks used this as a night-time entrance from their dormitory in the adjacent priory.
10. South Quire Aisle Containing the tomb of John de Bradfield and many elaborate wooden corbels and bosses.
11. Cloisters The cloister was at the heart of the monastery and its outlines can be followed in the cloister garth. The eastern part was formed by Bishop Ernulf’s Chapter House and dormitory of which now only the western wall survives.
12. Crypt Largely dating from the 1180s, the crypt provides the foundations for the raised east end of the cathedral and originally housed seven small chapels. Its older, western end is part of Bishop Gundulf’s Norman cathedral of the 1080s.
13. The Lady Chapel This chapel was built in the 1490s and is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. Within the soaring perpendicular window arches stained glass from the early 1900s tells the story of Christ through his mother’s eyes.