Borstal, Rochester

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Coordinates: 51°22′27″N 0°29′11″E / 51.374098°N 0.486304°E / 51.374098; 0.486304

Borstal from the M2 bridge.
Borstal is located in Kent
 Borstal shown within Kent
OS grid reference TQ731668
District Medway
Shire county Kent
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Rochester
Postcode district ME1
Dialling code 01634
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Rochester and Strood
List of places

Borstal is a place in the unitary authority of Medway in South East England. Originally a village near Rochester, it has become absorbed by the expansion of Rochester. The youth prison at Borstal gave its name to the Borstal reform school system.


Its name came from Anglo-Saxon burg-steall "fort site" or "place of refuge",[1] likely referring to the hill there. The hill is now the home to Fort Borstal.

The village is mentioned in Domesday Book.

The parish church, built in 1879, is dedicated to St Matthew.

The noted artist Donald Maxwell lived at No. 3, Borstal Villas from 1908 to 1930.[2]

Fort Borstal[edit]

Main article: Fort Borstal

Fort Borstal was built as an afterthought from the 1859 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom, by convict labour between 1875 and 1885. It is of polygonal design and was never originally armed. An anti-aircraft battery was based there in the Second World War.

Borstal Prison[edit]

On the edge of Borstal are Rochester and Cookham Wood prisons. Rochester was originally known as Borstal Prison, and was founded in 1870. Borstal Prison was once an experimental juvenile prison of the reformatory type set up in 1902. Because it was the first detention centre of its kind in the UK, the word "Borstal" became synonymous with other detention centres for youths across the country, and elsewhere. In view of that connotation, the prison was renamed 'Rochester Young Offenders Institution'. HMP Cookham Wood was added to the site later, in 1978.



  1. ^ The Place Names of Kent, Judith Glover, 1976, Batsford. ISBN 0-905270-61-4
  2. ^ Retrieved 18 August 2010.


  • John K. Austin, The Medway Shore as It Was: Burham to Borstal, Rainmore Books (2007), ISBN 0-9553903-2-X
  • Winifred F. Bergess and Stephen Sage, Five Medway Villages: Pictorial History of Aylesford, Burham, Wouldham, Eccles and Borstal, Meresborough Books (1983), ISBN 0-905270-64-9

External links[edit]