Service commemorates six centuries of history

Six hundred years of history were marked when the founders and benefactors of Rochester Bridge were honoured during a special All Souls’ Day service.

Held in the Crypt of Rochester Cathedral, the sung requiem mass commemorated the foundation of the Rochester Bridge Trust. The service, sung in Latin, would have been familiar to worshippers in the Bridge Chapel on Rochester Esplanade when it was founded in the 14th century.

Bridge Clerk Sue Threader explains: “King Richard II authorised the foundation of the Rochester Bridge Trust in 1399, when Sir John de Cobham and Sir Robert Knolles organised and paid for the construction of the medieval bridge. Donors gave land and money for the perpetual maintenance of the bridge. The income derived from the donations still pays for the bridges, grants and other charitable activities provided by the Trust today.”

This year, while the Bridge Chapel awaits internal refurbishment work, the service was held in the Chapel of St Ithamar, in the newly restored Crypt of Rochester Cathedral. Guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Chairman of Kent County Council, descendants of Sir Robert Knolles and representatives from the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.