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Museum Access Statement
The Guildhall Museum was founded in 1897 and is a lively,
informative and colourful treasure house of Medway’s history. It is
housed in two adjacent historic listed buildings – Rochester’s
magnificent 17th century Guildhall (1687) and the former Medway
Conservancy Board Building (1909). The cobbled Bull Lane separates
the two buildings. The museum houses a wide range of fascinating
objects highlighting the history of Medway from earliest
prehistoric times until the 20th century.
Museum highlights - General access provision -
hours - Plan your visit - Groups - Learning
sessions - Object Identification Service -
General enquiry service -
Weddings and room hire - Transport - Location - Car parking - Museum
facilities - Access to stored objects -
Photographs - Photographing and filming - Front of house -
Emergency procedures - CCTV
What is there to see and do at the museum?
Highlights of the museum include:
- the River Medway themed introductory gallery, sales point and
- the ornate 17th century Guildhall Chamber featured in Dickens’s
novel Great Expectations;
- the incredible hulks – part of a reconstructed early 19th
century Medway prison hulk on three levels;
- the Medway Room with Medway tug virtual river tour (opening
- the Seaton Tool Chest – the most complete example of an 18th
century tool chest in the world;
- displays of Medway’s civic silver;
- a temporary exhibitions gallery hosting topical
- the Dickens Discovery Room and AV Theatre (a 10-minute film
presentation about Dickens and Medway);
- a hands-on ‘Discovery Zone’ (opening April 2012);
- the ‘Rochester Riverside Eye’ – an interactive camera that
gives live views of Rochester Riverside and Rochester’s cultural
- a Victorian drawing room and kitchen exhibits.
General access provision
The museum buildings are listed Grade 1 and Grade 2 and they
have complicated layouts with lots of stairs and changes in level.
It is not possible to make significant alterations to the buildings
to make them wheelchair accessible, or to install lifts on site.
Restricted access for visitors in wheelchairs and visitors with
mobility difficulties applies to the greater part of both our
The good news is that the new main High Street entrance to the
museum, the river-themed introductory gallery, museum sales point
and the lower hulks deck are now completely accessible to
wheelchair users. Significant improvements have been made to access
as a result of the museum’s Opening the Doors to Access and
Learning project 2009-12, funded by Medway Council, the Heritage
Lottery Fund and the European Fund (Interreg IVA).
Alternative arrangements have been made to ensure that visitors
with mobility problems who are not able to access the majority of
the site are able to use instead on-screen information about the
museum, its buildings and contents. A touch screen facility
available to all visitors, but especially those in wheelchairs, is
located in the entrance gallery. This facility gives visitors
the opportunity to watch a number of short subtitled (English,
French and Dutch language) films highlighting key aspects of the
museum and its displays.
Admission to the museum is free-of-charge. The museum is open
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 4.30pm (last admission at 4pm. The museum
is closed for some of the Christmas and New Year period and on some
Bank Holidays. Please check holiday opening time with the museum in
advance by phoning the museum office on 01634
Plan your visit
A number of resources are available to enable you to plan your
- check out the Guildhall Museum web pages;
- request a museum leaflet from the museum or from the
- ask a member of staff via the museum office.
Please contact the museum staff directly
if you need additional help in arranging your visit.
Arranging a group or party visit to the museum
It is important that group or party visit organisers book their
visit to the museum in advance. This ensures that our buildings do
not get too overcrowded at any one time. To book a self-guiding
party or group visit please contact the museum by email, phone or
fax giving the following details:
- date of visit;
- number of students/adults in your group or party (if there are
more than thirty students/adults it would be best to divide the
group into two and stagger the visit over two time slots);
- age range of students/pupils visiting the museum;
- anticipated time of arrival;
- contact name and telephone number of group or party
- any other special requirements.
Arranging facilitated learning sessions with the Museum
The museum is able to offer booked object-focussed learning
sessions at the museum for visiting groups and parties. Details of
the range of session themes offered are available from the museum.
Museum objects can be used as a focus for the study of social
history; art; science and technology; natural history; costume
history, and inspiring creative work. These sessions must be
planned and booked in advance. Most of the sessions are tailored to
meet the learning needs of school students and young people. We are
however happy to arrange facilitated sessions for groups of
visitors of all ages and abilities. Specific learning outcomes
required should be discussed in advance with the Museum Education
Officer who may be contacted by email, telephone or fax.
The museum also offers an outreach service to schools and
community groups within the Medway administrative area. There is a
scale of fees in place to cover sessions of varying length. Fees
and charges are reviewed annually. Please contact the Museum
Education Officer for details of this service and the scale of fees
charged. The Museum Education Officer is happy to arrange bespoke
learning sessions in the classroom if resources in the museum
collection support the theme required.
Object Identification Service
The curatorial staff are able to offer a free object
identification service to enquirers. If you have an object that you
would like identified you will need to make an appointment in
advance to bring your object to the museum. Curatorial staff are
not always available on site to answer enquiries from visitors who
have not made an appointment in advance. Please note that museum
staff are not able to value objects for members of the public.
General enquiry service
Museum staff are happy to answer public enquiries about objects
in the museum collection or the history of objects in general. More
detailed local history enquiries requiring access to documents,
photographs, newspapers, census returns etc. should be addressed to
Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre (MALSC)
currently based in Strood (01634 332717).
Weddings and room hire
The ornate 17th century Guildhall Chamber is licensed for
weddings and other civil ceremonies. Please contact the Museum
Services Officer to discuss individual needs and requirements. The
museum is not able to host wedding receptions on site but there are
a number of potential wedding reception venues in or close to
Rochester High Street. Fees charged by the museum service for the
hire of the Guildhall Chamber do not cover Registrar’s fees, which
are supplementary to the hire cost. The Guildhall Chamber and
adjacent Members’ Room can be hired out for talks, meetings and
seminars. Terms and conditions of hire are available from the
Local transport links
Rochester is reasonably well served by public transport. The
museum is approximately one mile’s walk from both Rochester and
Strood railway stations. The High Speed rail link operates from
Rochester and Strood to Stratford International and St Pancras
International in London. There are also trains to London Victoria,
London Charing Cross, Maidstone (via Strood), Gravesend,
Canterbury, Dover Priory and Ramsgate.
There are good local bus links between Rochester and Chatham.
Nearly all buses terminate at Chatham Bus Station. Bus stops are
situated on Corporation Street just five minutes walk from the
The location of the museum
The Guildhall Museum is situated at the River Medway end of
Rochester High Street opposite the Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel.
The ornate façade of the Guildhall is very distinctive as is the
large ship’s weather vane atop the building. The entrance to the
Guildhall is via the green painted door underneath the colonnade
that fronts Rochester High Street.
The museum does not have its own public car parking facilities
but there is a large public car park on Corporation Street (parking
fee payable) and metered parking on Rochester Esplanade. These car
parking facilities are just five minutes walk from the museum.
There are other smaller car parks in the centre of Rochester.
There is a special car park for registered disabled badge
holders at Northgate 200 yards from the museum.
It is possible for cars to set down and pick up outside the
museum (but not on Saturdays when Rochester High Street is
Meeting visitor needs and requirements
The museum service is keen that all visitors get the most from
their visit and find the visit an enjoyable and educational
experience. The museum can offer the following services and
facilities to visitors:
- safe storage of prams and pushchairs for visitors while on
- quiz sheets for visitors (please note that the number and
variety of quiz sheets available has had to be reduced while
gallery modifications are in progress. New quiz sheets will be
prepared in 2012);
- sales point at the reception desk selling a range of souvenirs
and pocket money items at reasonable prices;
- toilets - the museum does not have any designated public
toilets on site but there are staff toilets available in the
Guildhall that can be accessed in an emergency. There are award
winning public toilets (including toilets for use by visitors with
disabilities) at Northgate just 2 minutes walk from the museum, and
further public toilets at the Rochester Visitor Information Centre
at No 95 High Street, just 5 minutes walk from the museum;
- the museum does not have a tea-room or café, but there are
numerous restaurants, pubs, cafes and coffee bars in Rochester High
Street to suit all tastes and pockets. There is a café at the
Visitor Information Centre at 95 High Street;
- special themed object handling sessions for wheelchair users or
those with mobility problems can be arranged on Mondays when the
museum is closed to the general public. These sessions can be held
in the museum entrance gallery on the ground floor of the Guildhall
which is completely wheelchair accessible;
- an induction loop is fitted at the museum reception desk for
the benefit of hearing impaired visitors who wear a hearing
- text in refurbished galleries is reproduced in a large point
size to facilitate ease of reading for visitors with a visual
- colour contrasting surfaces are used where possible in the
museum for the benefit of visitors with a visual impairment;
- special arrangements can be made by prior appointment to
provide facilitated object handling sessions for visitors with a
- the museum service is very keen to work with special needs
groups in the museum or out in the community. Bespoke
object-focussed sessions can be designed by the Museum Education
Officer to meet a range of different needs, requirements and
- printed learning resources on the history of Medway are
available for use in the classroom (10-14 age group);
- the museum organises an annual themed temporary exhibition of
interest to visitors of all ages. This is usually staged in the
temporary exhibitions gallery;
- there is a designated room (The Members’ Room) within the
museum for the delivery of facilitated object focussed learning
sessions. This historic room has been fully restored;
- duty front line staff in both buildings on site are able and
willing to assist visitors at all times. Our duty receptionist will
be pleased to help you.
Access to museum objects in store
Many objects in the museum collections are not on public
display. Some of these objects are particularly fragile or
important, others (although interesting) do not relate to the core
displays in the museum. Quite a few of the objects in store are
purely of research or academic interest.
It is the museum’s policy to make its stored collections
accessible under supervision to enquirers and researchers. The
museum service does have a Library Room where researchers can study
objects from the collections under the supervision of the
A large percentage of the museum’s stored collections are stored
off-site away from Rochester. It is therefore important that any
enquirer wishing to view specific objects or collections should
give the museum staff at least a week’s prior notice so that
objects and collections stored off-site can be retrieved.
The museum service maintains a computer database catalogue
covering a large percentage of the objects retained in the
collections. The database is not yet available on-line to
enquirers, but curatorial staff are able to access and retrieve
information quickly in response to customer enquiries.
Appointments to access stored items in the collection can be
made by telephone, email or letter.
Proof of identity may be required prior to permission being
granted to access particular categories of object in the
collection. This would include high value items, items that require
careful handling because of their age, firearms, weaponry and other
objects with security implications.
Photographic images of objects in the museum collections
The museum service is able to supply photographs of objects in
the collections for general private research only. There may be a
charge for this service. Individuals and organisations requiring
photographic images for commercial or publishing projects will be
charged a fee and sign a release consent agreement.
Photography and filming on the museum site
The museum service is always willing to consider requests by
outside organisations and institutions to use the museum and its
buildings for film or photography shoots. Each request will be
considered on its merits. Sufficient lead-in time should be allowed
to ensure that agreements and terms and conditions can be drawn up
in advance. Fees will be payable for commercial filming and
photography on site and copyright restrictions may apply. Any
person or institution conducting filming or photography on site
must be able to offer proof in advance that they have the required
level of personal and public liability insurance cover. The museum
reserves the right to refuse permission for filming and photography
to take place on site.
Front of house staff
The museum offers a safe and pleasant environment for all
visitors. Front of house staff are employed to keep you safe and to
assist you during your visit.
We operate a No Smoking policy within our buildings and close to
our entrance and exit doors. Visitors are encouraged to dispose of
cigarette ends safely.
The museum service takes Health and Safety very seriously. The
museum is equipped with the very latest addressable wireless fire
and smoke detection system. Staff are trained to evacuate visitors
speedily from the building in an emergency situation.
The museum uses high-level security systems. All visitors are
recorded on CCTV from the time they enter the museum premises until
they leave the site. This ensures the safety of museum visitors,
buildings and exhibits.
Working dogs of all types are allowed on site if accompanied by
their owner. No other dogs or pets are allowed on site.
The museum service is provided, funded and administered by
We hope that you will find this information useful when planning
a visit to the museum. We welcome your feedback to help us
continuously improve if you have any comments.
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