Published: 00:00, 11 November 2013
| Updated: 12:04, 11 November 2013
A restaurant or cafe could be opened in the grounds of Rochester’s Eastgate House.
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.
Eastgate House was built in the latter part of the 16th century for Sir Peter Buck, the clerk of the cheque at Chatham Dockyard.
The family lived there for five generations.
It featured in two Charles Dickens novels: as Westgate in The Pickwick Papers, and as the Nun’s House in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
The money will be used to transform Eastgate House and the way it can be used.
It will help support 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 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.
Robert Cockayne, from Christie and Co, the company handling the lease, said: “The property would be ideal for an operation serving high quality, freshly produced food and beverages to the 570,000 people that stay in the area each year, as well as the three million day trips the area receives per annum.”
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