The King's School, Rochester is an English independent school in Rochester, Kent. It is a cathedral school and, being part of the foundation of Rochester Cathedral, the Dean of Rochester serves as chair of the school's governing body. The school claims to be the second oldest continuously operating school in the world, having been founded in 604 AD.
The cathedral school in Rochester was founded in 604 AD, at the same time as the cathedral. It was refounded by Henry VIII in 1541 during the English Reformation when the monastery in Rochester was dissolved. It is the second oldest school in the United Kingdom after The King's School Canterbury. The current principal is Jeremy Walker, who also acts as the senior school headmaster. Roger Overend is the preparatory school headmaster and Catherine Openshaw is the headmistress of the nursery and Pre-Preparatory school.
The school is housed in a variety of buildings around Historic Rochester;
A 16th century town house rebuilt as an 18th century Georgian house, it was taken over by the School in 1950 and purchased outright in 1968. It had originally been built for Richard Watts who had entertained Queen Elizabeth there in 1753: asked for her verdict on her stay, the Queen had answered, ‘satis’, hence the name of the house. Above the entrance portico is a 1578 bust of Watts who represented Rochester in Parliament between 1563 and 1571. At Satis House are the office of The Principal of King’s Rochester, administrative offices and the Senior School Library.
The oldest building in use which was specifically built for the school. It was completed in 1742, the tower and additional classrooms were added in 1880 and the building extended with porches either end in 1913. During WW2 the building was commandeered for ARP purposes. The wooden roof which had served as the school’s assembly hall was removed in 1976. In 1985, it became the Design and Technology Centre. At the entrance are the Parker Memorial Gates (after Rev William Parker, Headmaster 1913-35) which were dedicated in 1955.
The Cheetham Memorial Building (ICT)
This was opened in 1909 by Dr Richard Glazebrook, Director of the National Physical Laboratory. It originally consisted of a science laboratory and an art room and is now the ICT Centre. The Venerable Samuel Cheetham was Archdeacon of Rochester from 1882 until his death in 1908.
The Laboratory and Lecture Theatre
The building was opened in 1952 and was the School’s first new building for nearly 40 years. Further adjacent science laboratories for chemistry and physics were opened in 1959 and the biology wing in 1980.
Built in 1640, this was the Deanery from 1661 to 1961. The building was home to Rochester Theological College (founded by Bishop Christopher Chavasse) from 1961 until its closure in 1970. It then became in part the King’s School Sixth Form Centre with the Senior School History and Geography Departments.
This was built in 1840 and later named after the last Canon of the Cathedral to live there; Canon William Herbet Mackean (1877-1960), Canon of Rochester 1925-58. The Headmaster’s study and the senior school were housed there until both were relocated Satis House in 1986. The property is marked on early maps as the House of the 2nd Prebend. During WW2 the house was used for ARP purposes and is now used by the Senior School English, Economics and Business Studies Departments.
Opened in 1982 by the Archbishop of York and named after Ernest William Davies (Headmaster 1935-57), it houses the School’s Art and Language Centres. Memorial gates at the entrance from the Vines were dedicated in 2006.
Old St Margaret’s
Originally a Richard Watts charitable school (as per the plaque on the façade explains), this is the oldest building in the towns of the Lower Medway in continuous educational use. As a Church of England Primary School, ‘St Margaret’s’, it was taken over by King’s School in 1960 and purchased outright in 1968. It is used by the Senior School Mathematics and Classics Departments. Parts of the building and outbuildings house the offices of the School’s Combined Cadet Force which celebrated its centenary in 2011.
This was opened and dedicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1967. It is regularly used to host school productions, assemblies and other events.
Named after a method of change ringing on five bells. This is the school café and occupies the former stables of Prior Gate’s House.
King’s Rochester Sports Centre
A joint venture with Medway Council, the King’s Rochester Sports Centre was officially opened in June 2014 and provides among its modern facilities, netball and tennis courts and a gymnasium which are also available to the general public. The school also has a Boathouse by Allington Lock near Aylesford on the River Medway which opened in 1984. The school has a long rowing tradition with the King’s School Rochester Boat Club being founded in 1861.
The main building was opened in 1958, extended in 1984 and with a new wing added in 1992. The part of King’s Rochester was called the Junior School until 1989.
St Nicholas House
The late Victorian former vicarage for St Nicholas Church, was purchased in 1946 and used as the Junior School until the new buildings were opened in 1958. From 1958 until 1974 it was a boarding house and now contains Preparatory School administrative offices. Adjacent to St Nicholas House was a wartime decontamination shelter which had been converted to Junior School changing rooms. An additional floor and gabled roof were added in 2000 and opened that year in memory of David Dann (King’s Scholar 1942-52) and a Governor of the school, to provide additional music facilities
Previously used as a Junior School boarding house, as the first site of the Pre-Preparatory School (opened in 1988) and for the Nursery School and is now used for general teaching. From 1946 to 1961 it was the Headmaster’s house.
Built in 1908, acquired in 1948 and now used as a supplementary boarding house until boarding capacity at School House was increased in 1972 and now houses the Music Department.
Situated above a bank on the west side of the paddock. The original building was created in 1905. An extension to the north, later called the Colours Room, was added in 1920 in memory of Major Maurice Miskin (1903–10), who was killed in action in 1918. The 25m Rifle Range immediately to the south and used by the Combined Cadet Force was built in 1926.
Opened in 2006, the Conference Centre comprises of a small hall on the ground floor and a basement used as a dining hall for the Preparatory and Pre-Preparatory Schools.
King’s Rochester Pre-Preparatory School was opened in 2000 and named Chadlington House after an Old Roffensian life peer. This modern building also now houses King’s Nursery School.
Within the senior school there are currently five houses:
In the preparatory school there are currently four houses, though there were previously six:St William's
The now defunct fifth and sixth houses were St Margaret's and St Justus' respectively.
In pre-prep the houses are Tigers (red), Zebra (blue), Hippos (green) or Giraffes (yellow). Zebra used to be called "Snakes", but as some children were scared of snakes it was changed to "Zebra" house.Sir Edwin Arnold, poet and author
Sir Derek Barton, Nobel Prize-winning chemist
Michael Brown, Archdeacon of Nottingham
Richard Dadd, artist
Edward Mortlock Donaldson, World War II flying ace
Christopher Gabbitas, singer with the King's Singers
John Griffiths, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford
John Gummer, former Conservative cabinet minister
Peter Gummer, Baron Chadlington, Conservative peer
John Hemming-Clark, politician and author
Richard Keen, lawyer
David Clive King, author
Dinsdale Landen, actor
Harold Stephen Langhorne, Brigadier-General in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Geoffrey Lees, cricketer and educator
G. R. S. Mead, author and member of the Theosophical Society
Peter Rogers, film producer
Simon Shackleton, musician from Lunatic Calm
John Storrs, Dean of Rochester
Pete Tong, BBC Radio 1 disc jockey
Sir Cecil Wakeley, 1st Baronet, surgeon
Matthew Walker, professional cricketer, Kent Cricket coach (2017–present)
Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
Michael Wilkes, Adjutant-General to the Forces
Douglas Wilson, Bishop of Trinidad