Visitors invited in for free next month to historic artefacts
Historic buildings in Medway will be opening their doors to the public next month as part of the largest free heritage event in the country.
Heritage Open Days takes place from September 6-9 and aims to give everyone the chance to discover local history.
Rochester Bridge Trust is among the charities taking part in the scheme by offering visitors the rare opportunity to explore its bridge chamber and medieval chapel on the Esplanade.
The buildings will be open on September 8-9 and the trust, one of the oldest in the country, will be putting on guided tours – all for free.
Visitors will be able to explore the restored 14th century bridge chapel – one of only six still standing in the country – where travellers and pilgrims used to pray for a safe journey, and pray for the founders of the bridge and their families.
Inside the chapel, guests will be given a rare glimpse of the stained glass, plaques and a painting of the Raising of Lazarus by the Circle of Carlo Maratta.
The chapel is also home to a council table and chairs made by famous craftsman Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson.
The bridge chamber, dating from 1879, features maritime art by Isaac Sailmaker and a sketch of Rochester Bridge by famous artist JMW Turner who used to draw while walking along the River Medway.
Visitors will also get to see a collection of paintings of the bridge over the centuries.
Sue Threader, bridge clerk for the trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to take part in the Heritage Open Days and welcome visitors to explore our unusual offices and many of the gems from our collections which span so many centuries.
“The trust has existed since 1399 and our work is focused on maintaining the bridges the trust provides over the River Medway at Rochester and managing our assets to ensure we have the funds available to continue this work for the next 600 years and beyond.
“At the same time it is very important that we preserve and share with the public the history of this unique organisation.”
Other Medway sites taking part in the event include Chatham Historic Dockyard, Rochester Castle, and the Guildhall Museum.
Rochester Bridge chapel and chamber will be open from 10am to 4pm. To find out more about the trust visit www.rbt.org.uk or visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk for more about the event.