The Bridge Chapel

The bridge chapel at Rochester was built by Sir John de Cobham, who lived at nearby Cooling Castle.

About this church

Described as newly constructed in January 1393, the chapel was located on the eastern approach to the medieval stone bridge, formerly called Chapel Lane or Bridge Lane, but today known as the Esplanade.

Today the interior looks much different from its appearance in medieval times. The inner dimensions remain the same, but there were two windows on the south wall, the outline of the second now just visible in the stonework.

The high altar stood against the east wall, flanked by lamp corbels. On the north wall is an aumbrey, or recessed cupboard, which would have been used to store the chalice, wine, candles, and other supplies. At the eastern end of the south wall there is a piscina, or stone basin where water used at Mass was poured away. Half way along the south wall, also hidden behind the panelling, are notches for the rood screen which would have extended across the chapel. Against the western side stood two additional altars.

Although the chapel was named ‘Allsoulen chapel’, it was founded in honour of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and All Saints, probably reflecting the dedications of the three separate altars. At the west end of the chapel is a gallery, originally reached by a circular stairway in a clock tower at the northwestern corner of the chapel.

The three chantry priests, each earning a salary of £6 per year, celebrated intercessory masses for health of Sir John de Cobham and the other benefactors, until the chapel was suppressed during the Reformation in 1548. Over the next three centuries the chapel was used first as a storeroom and then was converted into a house, serving variously as a private dwelling, a public house, and in Victorian times as a fruit and sweet shop.

When surrounding buildings were removed in 1879 during the construction of the Bridge Chamber, little more than a ruined shell of the medieval chapel remained. In 1937 the Wardens and Assistants restored the bridge chapel. During the restoration work the chapel was reroofed, the floor was tiled, windows were repaired and reglazed, and the oak panelling was installed. The chapel is now used primarily for meetings, dinners and other functions.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

KentROCHESTERRochesterCathedral(church)1

Rochester Cathedral

The Cathedral has been a place of Christian worship since 604AD where everyone is welcome to visit to take part in our services, admire our treasures and learn more of our stories.

KentCOOLINGStJames(brianfuller)1

St James

The inspiration for a dramatic Dickens tale.

Become a Friend of the National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings!