Latest: £2m plans for Eastgate House in Rochester get the go ahead
One of Medway's most iconic buildings has been awarded a grant
of more than £1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to
fully open it up to the public.
Eastgate House which featured in two Dickens
novels, was built in the latter part of the 16th century for
Sir Peter Buck, the Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham Dockyard.
It was lived in by five generations of the Buck family.
During the 18th and 19th century it had many uses, perhaps most
notably as a girls’ school.
It featured as Westgate in Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and as
the Nun’s House in his work The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Now, as the bicentenary year of the great writer’s birth comes
to an end, the property has received £1.28million of HLF investment
to transform it.
Medway Council is contributing a further £700,000 towards the
project, which will cost a total of £2.1million to complete. The
work will start next year and be completed in 2015.
Cllr Howard Doe, who is in charge of community services, said:
“Eastgate House is a stunning Tudor property, a wonderfully
imposing and awe-inspiring building that is a jewel in the crown in
regards to Rochester's historic High Street.
“We are blessed with an abundance of heritage in this part of
Medway and this Heritage Lottery Fund grant will mean we can
transform Eastgate House – which featured in two of Dickens’ novels
– so that the public can fully appreciate its wonder.
“It is fitting that this money has been awarded as it is the
icing on the cake of a wonderful year of celebration – one in which
Dickens’ Bicentenary played a large part locally, and was marked
nationally and even internationally."
Mark Reckless, the MP for Rochester and Strood, welcomed the
“The Heritage Lottery Fund is to be congratulated for granting
Eastgate House vital funds. Eastgate House has stood proud in
Rochester since the late 1590s.
“With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Eastgate House
will be reinvigorated as a tourist as well as community centre
piece in the heart of Rochester for future centuries following this
decision 200 years after Dickens’ birth.”
Eastgate House is set in its own gardens and the site also
encompasses an annexe building and cottage designed by Sir Guy
Dawber in the 1920s.
In 1897, the house was bought by the Corporation of Rochester
and turned into the city museum. In the 1970s it became the Charles
Dickens’ Centre until 2004.
The house is now occasionally used for art and local
history exhibitions as well as educational visits, heritage open
days and as a wedding venue.
The Heritage Lottery Fund Grant will be used to transform the
property and the way it can be used.
The money will help support, in partnership with Medway Council
and other funding partners, the repair and conservation of the
building’s fabric, from the roof, to the windows and floors.
New heating and lighting will be installed, removing unsightly
pipe work and wiring and providing services more sensitive to the
Access for visitors will be improved with a new lift at the back
of the building, which has received planning permission, and is
being sensitively designed by architects, Thomas Ford &
Partners, in consultation with English Heritage and local
A staircase, removed by the museum at the turn of the century,
will be re-instated to allow easy access from the first to the
- Click here for more Medway news...
- Click here for more news from across the county...