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The City of Rochester
Becoming a city has nothing to do with building a cathedral or a
university or any similar institution. It is a status which is granted by the
governing power of the time. Today this is Parliament; in the
Middle Ages it was the king.
Over the years, Rochester has been granted many charters
outlining municipal privileges. One of the most important was that
allowed by Henry III in 1227. This was probably the occasion for
the manufacture of the city seal now on display at the Guildhall Museum. This depicts
Rochester Castle on one side, St Andrew on the other and would
have been used to authenticate official documents.
The privileges granted in these charters would have included the
right to levy duties and taxes. This was especially important for
Rochester. The town quay would have been an ideal place to unload
imported goods for distribution throughout north Kent.
In 1446 the city was given jurisdiction over the River Medway
stretching all the way from Hawkswood out to Sheerness. Charters
also provided for the election and appointment of city officials.
It was in 1461 that Edward IV first granted Rochester the right to
elect its own mayor.