Timeline: Norman period

 1 mya      Prehistory      54 BCE


 54 BCE      Roman occupation     410 CE


     410 CE      Anglo-Saxon era       1066 CE


 1066 CE     Norman period     1299 CE
2015-11-14 11.00.54
Rochester Cathedral’s Great West Door tympanum, dating to the twelfth century.

The native dynasty was restored with the accession of Edward the Confessor in 1042, but the Norman invasion of 1066 begins a new era for the country.


William the Conqueror granted the cathedral and its estates to his half-brother, Odo of Bayeux. Bishop Odo misappropriated the resources and reduced the cathedral to near-destitution.
1072 Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury, amongst others, brought Odo to account at the trial of Penenden Heath (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 168r-170v).


Gundulf appointed as the first Norman bishop of Rochester. The cathedral and its lands were restored. Gundulf begins construction of a new cathedral to replace Justus’ church and founds the Benedictine Priory of St Andrew. In 2017 and 2018 ground-penetrating radar surveys revealed what may be the foundations of both the cathedral and priory buildings (Keevill and SUMO Survey 2017 and 2018).

Gundulf founds St Bartholomew’s Hospital just outside the city of Rochester.


The Priory contributed daily and weekly provisions to the hospital which also received the offerings from the two altars of St James and of St Giles.

1086 to 1088

An agreement is made in the presence of Archbishop Lanfranc, between Bishop Gundulf and Gilbert, concerning land held by Gilbert belonging to St Andrew’s Church (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 175r).

1093 to 1122

Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (from 1093-1109) grants to the church of St Andrews, Rochester, and to Bishop Gundulf, privileges related to the land of the church at Northfleet (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 179r). Later, from 1114 to 1122, his successor Radulfus confirms this grant and adds further grants relating to land at ‘Gudelffeld’ (Guddlefield?) (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 179v).
Henry I grants

1100 to 1135


Election of the nun Avicia as the first Abbess of Malling. The new abbess swore an oaf of allegiance to Bishop Gundulf and his successors at Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 178r-198v).

1115 to 1124

An agreement made between Coc and Bishop Ernulf and the monks at St Andrew’s concerning land in Rochester

The Textus Roffensis is written c.1123, a copy of a collection of manuscripts accumulated since Anglo-Saxon times. Many texts in this collection are the only copies to survive, detailing life in Kent before the Norman conquest.

1115 to 1137

During the episcopates of Ernulf (1115–1124) and John I (1125–1137) the quire was rearranged, the nave partly rebuilt, Gundulf’s nave piers were cased and the west end rebuilt. Ernulf is also credited with building the refectory, dormitory and chapter house, only portions of which remain (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 197r).


Construction of the great keep of Rochester Castle was begun in 1127 (Textus Roffensis c.1123).


The Norman Cathedral was consecrated on Ascension Day. King Henry I attended the ceremony.


Around this date fires destroyed the wooden roof of the Nave and damaged the Quire.


Another fire damages the east end of the building. Work begins on re-building in the Gothic style, starting in the presbytery.


William of Perth was murdered nearby.  Pilgrims visiting his shrine brought in money to allow the monks to continue re-building the cathedral. Around this date an elaborate figurative decorative scheme featuring scenes from the bible is etched onto the walls and piers throughout the building and on the west front, thought to be the designs for an extensive paint scheme. Remnants of this scheme survive today.


The cathedral was plundered when King John held it against the rebel barons.


The new Quire was consecrated.


The Rochester Bestiary is created; a beautiful thirteenth century manuscript, it is not known whether the manuscript got its name by being held at created at the priory or was held within the library.


Around this date the North Transept was built.  The South Transept, originally used as a Lady Chapel, was built a few decades later. The cathedral was rededicated in 1240 by Bishop Richard Wendene (also known as Richard de Wendover).


The cathedral was desecrated in 1264 by the troops of Simon de Montfort, during sieges of the city and castle. It is recorded that armed knights rode into the church and dragged away some refugees. Gold and silver were stolen and documents destroyed. Some of the monastic buildings were turned into stables.


Around this time the Custumale Roffense is written; a copy of collections of rents owed to the priory and a list of duties carried out by the servants. The book survives today and informs us of the economics of the diocese and of life in the priory in the thirteenth-century.
  1300 CE    Late Middle Ages     1499 CE


1500 CE     Early Modern era     1799 CE


1800 CE      Late Modern era     2018 CE