King's School, Rochester


The King's School, Rochester, is an English independent school in
Rochester, Kent Rochester ( ) is a town in the unitary authority A unitary authority is a local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of public policy, gov ...
. It is a
cathedral school Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6t ...
and, being part of the foundation of Rochester Cathedral, the
Dean of Rochester The Dean of Rochester is the head of the chapter of canons at Rochester Cathedral, the mother church of the Church of England Diocese of Rochester. The current dean is Philip Hesketh, who has served in that role since June 2016. List of deans ...
serves as chair of the school's governing body. The school claims to be the second oldest continuously operating school in the world, having been founded in 604 AD.


The cathedral school in Rochester was founded in 604 AD, at the same time as the cathedral. It was refounded by
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
in 1541 during the
English Reformation The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England when the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformati ...
when the monastery in Rochester was dissolved. It is the second oldest school in the United Kingdom after
The King's School Canterbury The King's School is a Public school (United Kingdom), public school (English Independent school (United Kingdom), independent Day school, day and boarding school for 13 to 18 year old pupils) in Canterbury, Kent, England. It is a member of the H ...
. The current principal is Ben Charles, who also acts as the senior school headmaster. Tom Morgan is the preparatory school headmaster and Catherine Openshaw is the headmistress of the nursery and Pre-Preparatory school.


The school is housed in a variety of buildings around Historic Rochester (the school also uses
Rochester Cathedral Rochester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an English church of Norman architecture in Rochester, Medway, Rochester, Kent. The church is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rochester in the Church o ...

Rochester Cathedral
for school services);

Senior School

Satis House

A 16th century town house rebuilt as an 18th-century Georgian house, the School took it over in 1950 and purchased it outright in 1968. It had originally been built for
Richard Watts Richard Watts (1529–1579) was a successful businessman and MP for Rochester, South East England South East England is one of the nine official regions of England at the ITL 1 statistical regions of England, first level of Internatio ...
who had entertained
Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to i ...
there in 1573: asked for her verdict on her stay, the Queen had answered, "satis" (from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

' for "enough"), hence the name of the house. Above the entrance portico is a 1578 bust of Watts who represented Rochester in Parliament between 1563 and 1571. At Satis House are the office of The Principal of King's Rochester, administrative offices and the Senior School Library.

Main School

The oldest building in use which was specifically built for the School. It was completed in 1742, the tower and additional classrooms were added in 1880 and the building extended with porches either end in 1913. During
WW2 World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
the building was commandeered for ARP purposes. The wooden roof which had served as the school's assembly hall was removed in 1976. In 1985, it became the Design and Technology Centre. At the entrance are the Parker Memorial Gates (after Reverend William Parker, Headmaster 1913-35) which were dedicated in 1955.

The Cheetham Memorial Building

This was opened in 1909 by Dr
Richard Glazebrook Sir Richard Tetley Glazebrook (18 September 1854 – 15 December 1935) was an English physicist. Education and early career Glazebrook was born in West Derby, Liverpool, Lancashire, the son of a surgeon. He was educated at Dulwich College unt ...
, Director of the National Physical Laboratory. It originally consisted of a science laboratory and an art room and now contains two computing suites. The Venerable Samuel Cheetham was Archdeacon of Rochester from 1882 until his death in 1908.

The Laboratory and Lecture Theatre

The building was opened in 1952 and was the School's first new building for nearly 40 years. Further adjacent science laboratories for
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

were opened in 1959 and the biology wing in 1980.

The College

Built in 1640, this was the Deanery from 1661 to 1961. The building was home to Rochester Theological College (founded by Bishop Christopher Chavasse) from 1961 until its closure in 1970. It then became in part the King's School Sixth Form Centre with the Senior School History and Geography Departments.

Mackean House

This was built in 1840 and later named after the last Canon of the Cathedral to live there; Canon William Herbet Mackean (1877-1960), Canon of Rochester 1925-58. The Headmaster's study and the senior school were housed there until both were relocated Satis House in 1986. The property is marked on early maps as the House of the 2nd Prebend. During WW2 the house was used for ARP purposes and is now used by the Senior School English, Economics and Business Studies Departments.

Davies Court

Opened in 1982 by the Archbishop of York and named after Ernest William Davies (Headmaster 1935-57), it houses the School's Art, Religious Studies and Language Centres (French, German and Russian). Memorial gates at the entrance from the Vines were dedicated in 2006.

Old St Margaret's

Originally a Richard Watts charitable school (as per the plaque on the façade explains), this is the oldest building in the towns of the Lower Medway in continuous educational use. As a Church of England Primary School, ‘St Margaret’s’, it was taken over by King's School in 1960 and purchased outright in 1968. It is used by the Senior School Mathematics and Classics Departments. Parts of the building and outbuildings house the offices of the School's
Combined Cadet Force The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) is a youth organisation The following is a list of youth organizations. A youth organization is a type of organization with a focus upon providing activities and socialization In sociology Sociology ...
which celebrated its centenary in 2011.

School Hall

This was opened and dedicated by the
Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Cat ...
in 1967. It is regularly used to host school productions, assemblies and other events. It is due to be renovated in mid 2018.

Bob Doubles

Named after a method of change ringing on five bells. This is the School's café and tuck shop and occupies the former stables of Prior Gate's House.

King's Rochester Sports Centre

A joint venture with Medway Council, the King's Rochester Sports Centre was officially opened in June 2014 and provides among its modern facilities, netball and tennis courts and a gymnasium which are also available to the general public. The school also has a Boathouse by Allington Lock near Aylesford on the
River Medway The River Medway is a river in South East England South East England is one of the nine official regions of England at the ITL 1 statistical regions of England, first level of International Territorial Level, ITL for Statistics, statist ...
which opened in 1984. The school has a long rowing tradition with the King's School Rochester Boat Club being founded in 1861.

Preparatory School

The main building was opened in 1958, extended in 1984 and with a new wing added in 1992. The part of King's Rochester was called the Junior School until 1989. St Nicholas House The late Victorian former vicarage for St Nicholas Church, was purchased in 1946 and used as the Junior School until the new buildings were opened in 1958. From 1958 until 1974 it was a boarding house and now contains Preparatory School administrative offices. Adjacent to St Nicholas House was a wartime decontamination shelter which had been converted to Junior School changing rooms. An additional floor and gabled roof were added in 2000 and opened that year in memory of David Dann (King's Scholar 1942-52) and a Governor of the school, to provide additional music facilities. Rookwood Previously used as a Junior School boarding house, as the first site of the Pre-Preparatory School (opened in 1988) and for the Nursery School and is now used for general teaching. From 1946 to 1961 it was the Headmaster's house. St Ronan's Built in 1908, acquired in 1948 and now used as a supplementary boarding house until boarding capacity at School House was increased in 1972 and now houses the Music Department. The Pavilion Situated above a bank on the west side of the paddock. The original building was created in 1905. An extension to the north, later called the Colours Room, was added in 1920 in memory of Major Maurice Miskin (1903–10), who was killed in action in 1918. The 25m Rifle Range immediately to the south and used by the Combined Cadet Force was built in 1926. Conference Centre Opened in 2006, the Conference Centre consists of a small hall on the ground floor and a basement used as a dining hall for the Preparatory and Pre-Preparatory Schools.

Pre-Preparatory School

Chadlington House King's Rochester Pre-Preparatory School was opened in 2000 and named Chadlington House after Old Roffensian life peer Peter Gummer (
Lord Chadlington Peter Selwyn Gummer, Baron Chadlington FCIPR FIoD FCinstM Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, FRSA (born 24 August 1942) is an English businessman. He is currently President of the Witney (UK Parliament cons ...
). This modern building also now houses King's Nursery School. In 2017 'Armadilla Pods' were constructed in the grounds for music lessons.


Senior School


Senior School

Preparatory School

Pre-Preparatory School

Notable former pupils

* Sir Edwin Arnold, poet and author * Sir Derek Barton, Nobel Prize-winning chemist * Michael Brown, Archdeacon of Nottingham *
Richard Dadd Richard Dadd (1 August 1817 – 7 January 1886) was an English painter of the Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union ...
, artist *
Edward Mortlock Donaldson Air Commodore Edward "Teddy" Mortlock Donaldson, (12 February 1912 – 2 June 1992) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying ace of the Second World War, and a former holder of the flight airspeed record, airspeed world record. Early life Born in Nege ...
, World War II flying ace *
Christopher Gabbitas Christopher Alan Gabbitas, is a choral conductor Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or Choir, choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several pl ...
, singer with the King's Singers *Michael S. K. Grant, IT professional and President of the British Computer Society, BCS *John Griffiths (academic), John Griffiths, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford *John Gummer, former Conservative Party (UK), Conservative cabinet minister *Peter Gummer, Baron Chadlington, Conservative Party (UK), Conservative peer *Richard Keen, lawyer and Conservative Party politician *Clive King, David Clive King, author *Dinsdale Landen, actor *Harold Stephen Langhorne, Brigadier-General in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps *Geoffrey Lees (cricketer), Geoffrey Lees, cricketer and educator *G. R. S. Mead, author and member of the Theosophical Society *Peter Rogers, film producer *Simon Shackleton, musician from ''Lunatic Calm'' *John Storrs (priest), John Storrs, Dean of Rochester *Pete Tong, BBC Radio 1 disc jockey *Cecil Wakeley, Sir Cecil Wakeley, 1st Baronet, surgeon *Matthew Walker (English cricketer), Matthew Walker, professional cricketer, Kent County Cricket Club, Kent Cricket coach (2017–present) *Martin Warner (bishop), Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester *Michael Wilkes, Adjutant-General to the Forces *Douglas Wilson (bishop), Douglas Wilson, Bishop of Trinidad

See also

*List of the oldest schools in the world


;Footnotes ;Citations

External links

Official website
{{DEFAULTSORT:Kings School, Rochester Rochester, Kent, KingsSchool Independent schools in Medway Educational institutions established in the 7th century 604 establishments Member schools of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference Co-educational boarding schools Boarding schools in Kent 7th-century establishments in England Choir schools in England Church of England independent schools in the Diocese of Rochester