User:DavidAnstiss/Eastgate House

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Eastgate House
Eastgate House, Rochester High St.JPG
Eastgate House
Coordinates 51°23′35″N 0°23′31″E / 51.393°N 0.392°E / 51.393; 0.392Coordinates: 51°23′35″N 0°23′31″E / 51.393°N 0.392°E / 51.393; 0.392
OS grid reference TQ 665 687
Built 1590/1
Built for Sir Peter Buck (farmer)
Governing body Eastgate House Trust
Type Grade II*
Designated 24 October 1950
Reference no. 1086482
DavidAnstiss/Eastgate House is located in Kent
DavidAnstiss/Eastgate House
Eastgate House location in Kent

Eastgate House is a 16th century townhouse in the High Street of Rochester,Medway. It was featured in 2 Charles Dickens novels and then became the 'Charles Dickens Centre' before becoming a museum and gallery space.


It is though to have been given its name due to its location next to the east gate of the old wall of the City of Rochester.[1]

It was built in 1590/91 for Sir Peter Buck (who later became A Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham Dockyard). On 4 April 1604, Lord Admiral Nottingham wrote to Sir Thomas Lake (Keeper of the Records), that Peter Buck and his son Peter were to be clerks of the King's Ships.[2] Peter was then knighted at Chatham on 4th July 1604.[3] His role in the dockyard was mustering the workmen, looked after expenses and kept accounts of earnings.[4] In 1606, Christian IV of Denmark stayed with Sir Peter Buck while he was on a visit to Chatham dockyard.[5][6] Sir Peter, was also (according to Pepys Diary)Secretary to Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland.[7]

Sir Peter's Coat of Arms and those of his first wife can be seen in the building, principally on the fine decorative plaster-work ceiling on the first floor and on a carved wooden shield which is set high among the gables on the High Street frontage of the house ref ref

He died in 1625.[5]

The house then became home to five generations of his family.[8]

In 1687, the Parker Family inhabited the house and then in the 1750s Bartholemew family owned the house to mid-18 Century.[9]

In 1761, it was owned by Annabel Darwin. Then in 1791 it was occupied by James Reed. It is unclear who first set up a school on the site (James or his widow).[9] The school is mentioned in as a freeschool in 'The History and Antiquities of Rochester and Its Environs' by Samuel Denne in 1772.[10]}}

In 1836, Charles Dickens used it as the inspiration for "Westgate" in his first novel, The Pickwick Papers.[11]

In 1837, it was owned by James Balcomb.[12] A local butcher.[13]

In 1841, the school was governed by Rebecca Norton.[14] Charles Dickens then used it as "The Nun's House" in his final unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood in 1870.

In the midst of Clositerham (Rochester) stands the 'Nun's house, a venerable brick ediface, whose present appellation is doubtless derived from the legend of its conventual uses. On the trim gate enclosing its old courtyard is a respendent brass plate, flashing forth the legend: 'Seminary for young ladies:Miss Twinkleton.' The house-front is so old and worn, and the brass plate is so shining and staring, that the general result has reminded imaginative strangers of a battered old beau with a large modern eye glass stuck in his left eye

— Francis Miltoun, Dickens'London[15]

In 1870s, it became a private house once more, owned by Samual Shaw, a wholesale coal merchant. Who was born in Wandsworth, Surrey. This was to be their last home in England, before leaving for Canada.[1]

In 1890 it became a young mens' hostel.

In 1897, it became a temperance restaurant

In 1903, Rochester City Council converted the building into a municipal library and museum in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

In 1923, the museum was extended and a new formal garden and caretaker's cottage built, funded by a legacy from Thomas Hellyar Foord.

In 1961, The Dickens Chalet was relocated here from Gads Hill Place.

In 1979, the building was the Dickens Centre with displays devoted to the author's life and works.

In 1982, The formal gardens were replaced by the current layout.

In 2004, the Dickens Centre closed.

Current Use[edit]

Has changing exhibits of art and local history, 16th-century Elizabethan town house featured as the Nun’s House in Charles Dickens’ novel The Pickwick Papers Westgate in Pickwick Papers Date first listed: 24-Oct-1950

Main range of brick; side elevation and rear wings brick and timber framed; some rubble ragstone. Kent tile roofs.

In the 1970s the building became the Charles Dickens’ Centre, which closed in 2004. The building is now used for art and history exhibitions, educational visits and weddings.<ref name=telegraph/

Eastgate House was awarded a first round development grant of £80,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011.

<ref url= By Yolanda B | Posted: May 15, 2012 title=Mysterious face found in Rochester’s Eastgate House newspaper=Kent and Sussex Courier accessdate=23 February 2014

A £1m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable major repair and development work ref- date=11 December 2012 title=Rochester's Eastgate House to be transformed accessdate=23 February 2014

The 16th century building will be fully opened to the public in 2015 as part of a £2.1 million project funded by Medway Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. A building on the site which was previously used as a toilet block is available for a tenant to move in. New heating and lighting will be installed, removing unsightly pipework and wiring and providing services more sensitive to the 16th-century interior. Access for visitors will be improved with a new lift at the back of the building, and a staircase that was removed at the turn of the century will be reinstated. <ref by first=Alan last=McGuinness url= title=Cafe funds to help Eastgate House in Rochester date=11 November 2013 accessdate=23 February 2014,kent/photos/eastgate-house-1894_34038/ francis frith photo in 1894

The Friends of Eastgate House was set up in 2012 to act as a support group for the lottery bid by Medway Council for the conservation of Eastgate House ???

Heritage Open Days

History timeline


  1. ^ a b "The Story of Samuel William Shaw and Helen Maria York". Retrieved 23February 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ Everett Green, Mary Anne (4 April 1604). "Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610". Institute of Historical Research. pp. 90–103. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  3. ^ The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the 1st. p. 440. 
  4. ^ "Research guide B5: Royal Naval Dockyards". National Maritime Museum. March 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Rochester". 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Contents of the Harleian Miscellany, Volume 9. p. 216. 
  7. ^ "Sir Peter Buck". 14 December 2003. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Furness, Hannah (21 May 2012). "Charles Dickens building damaged by free runners". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23February 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ a b "A BRIEF HISTORY OF EASTGATE HOUSE". 2014. Retrieved 23February 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ The History and Antiquities of Rochester and Its Environs. p. 4. 
  11. ^ "Rochester's Eastgate House to be transformed". BBC. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  12. ^ 1837. The Poll for the Knights of the Shire to represent the Western Division of ... Kent, etc. p. 216. 
  13. ^ "Will of James Balcomb, Butcher of No 202 High Street Rochester , Kent". 12 January 1855. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "1838 Directory, Rochester, Kent". 1838. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Dickens' London. p. 94. 

External links[edit]

Category;Country houses in Kent Category;Grade II* listed buildings Category;1590s architecture Category;Historic house museums in Kent