In 1955/6 the Mathematical School used a couple of huts opposite Eastgate House as extra classrooms. Somewhere I have a tatty photograph of some of the “inmates” lounging in the Museum Gardens.
I first visited the gardens in the 1960's with my grandmother and I have always referred to them as Granny's secret gardens. They were magical with long fishponds so full of goldfish and water lilies. I also seem to remember that the chalet was open and I could just clamber all over it. It was one of my favourite places to go and holds many memories. I took my own children there in the 1980 s and it had sort of lost its charm once the ponds were turned into flower beds.
My memories of Eastgate House go back more than 70 years to the period when it was still the City museum. In my early teens I spent so much time there that I was the unofficial, unpaid, acting assistant to the curator. He was a lovely man. I can't remember his name but the museum was his life; he taught me so much.
I started working as volunteer at Eastgate House Museum aged eleven when I joined the Eastgate House Junior Museum Society. At that time the curator Jospeh C Taylor was living in the office, literally, and was keen to encourage my interest in history. I was offered a tremendous freedom to explore the museum, its stores and collections and this continued with more formalised training when Michael Moad was appointed Curator following the death of Joseph.
Back in the 1950's the then curator organised a museum club for primary aged children. My cousins and I both joined and there were craft activities, walks and tours round the museum exhibits. I particularly remember a talk given by the Rochester Naturalists about how the orchids were reappearing in the Medway Valley which gave me a lifelong interest in ecology.
My earliest memories of Eastgate House date back to when I was a pupil at The King’s School in Rochester. One of our teachers took the class to visit it, probably around 1960, as we were reading excerpts from Dickens’ ‘Pickwick Papers’ in our English class. I recall we all became far more attentive when we heard that there were reports that ghosts had been seen (or felt) in the building: a lot more exciting to a 12-year-old than descriptions of Elizabethan architecture.
I remember the museum when it was full of dioramas of scenes from Dickens' books. The tour ended with ‘Dickens Dream’, an animation of his characters which was very innovative for its time. You could see the top floor of the Chalet through a window.
I used to take my children to Eastgate House Museum. The children loved the history- Miss Havisham and Oliver Twist.
When a child playing in the garden and watching the goldfish in the pond.
I enjoyed my visit when I was younger and look forward to going again when it re-opens.
As I was very young it was a ‘museum’ and I had to behave properly but I do remember the big table, huge, it was and beautifully carved. One day I hit my head on it (probably misbehaving) and it became the “horrid” table.
Mrs Ring remembers being bombed out of her house 117 Hawthorn Road Strood on 19th Feb 1944. She was aged 3. On 12th March that year the family moved into The Museum Cottage and became caretakers of the museum. At first, Mr Bushell worked part time as he had a job in Strood at the Oil and Cake works. He was made redundant from the works in 1948 and took on the caretaking job full time.
I came on 14th Feb 2015 with my fiancé for Valentine’s day. It was cold and miserable but we still had a lovely day. Eastgate house and gardens were a highlight- can’t wait to come back when it’s restored.
"Visiting the house every time we came to the festivals (22 years, twice a year). We have seen exhibitions, heard talks, warmed ourselves etc. It is very much part of Rochester and the Dickens festivals. Thank You."
"I belonged to the museum club when I was 12-15 years old. Some of my fondest memories was running up and down the spiral staircase seeing all the stuffed birds and the Upnor mammoth tusk. I remember playing in the Dawber garden and visiting the Lullingstone Roman villa before it had a roof. I also remember the chalet arriving from Gads Hill and being put in place, it was very exciting."
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Barbara and Eddie Goldsmith
Edwin John Elliot
Stephanie Goodrum (nee Cole)
Mrs Y Atkinson