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Favourite haunt of Charles Dickens
The Vines is an important local garden with a unique heritage
and history. The Grade II listed park is situated a short distance from
Rochester High Street within the Conservation Area, and is
overlooked by some of Rochester’s most architecturally important
buildings, including Restoration
House where Charles II stayed on the eve of his
restoration in 1660.
The Vines originally derived its name from the monks of nearby
St. Andrews Priory who used the area as their vineyard. The park is
known to have been a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens and is
featured in several of his novels; he was seen walking in The Vines
just three days before his death in 1870.
The storm of 1987
In the storm of October 1987, The Vines lost more than 50 of its
mature trees, many of which have since been replaced. One of the
badly damaged, but still rooted Plane trees was carved into a
sculpture of a monk by Robert Koenig in 1997. This became unstable
and has been relocated to an area of the north-western border, that
has been dedicated as a stag beetle habitat. The stump of the
original monk sculpture remains and continues to be a stag beetle
The Vines today
Today The Vines is a welcoming space, popular with families,
which features an impressive avenue of mature London Plane trees,
bordering a central path known as the Broad Walk.
The park supports mature shrubberies and colourful herbaceous
planting to encourage many wildlife species.
Medway Council has provided a number of bat, bird and bee boxes
to encourage wildlife. The Vines is also a valuable
educational resource for local schools, who use the park as part of
their curricular activities.
Green Flag Award
In 2008 the park was first awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award –
the national standard for quality parks and green spaces. The Green
Flag award was also awarded in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Vines is
rated in the top 5 per cent of Green Flag Awards in the
In 2010 the park attracted the Conservation Award from
The City of Rochester
Silver Medal Award
In 2010 The Vines was awarded a Silver Medal Award by Kent Wildlife
Trust Gardening for Wildlife Awards.
Friends of the Vines
A leaflet about The Vines and its history, produced by The
City of Rochester Society, is available from the
Visitor Information Centre, 95 High Street,
The park is owned by the Dean and Chapter of Rochester
Cathedral, it has been leased to Medway Council and its
predecessors as a public open space since 1880. It
is cared for by the Friends of the Vines, a local community
group that organises a number of events in the park over the
For information about Friends of the Vines, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New members are always welcome.
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