In a little corner of Rochester in Kent there is a little unknown lane (in comparison to its well documented sister Rochester High Street), Horsewash Lane. As you know I love a bit of local history and have been fascinated by it for ages, however the history behind Horsewash Lane has only come onto my radar recently.
When I was little my father lived in Strood, and when returning home we’d always cross Rochester bridge, going under the subway which is the start of Horsewash Lane (opposite the Crown Pub), at the time I didn’t know it by that name. I was fascinated by that white tiled subway, as I descended the spiral stair case to it, or when I went with my mum and brother (who was in a pram at the time) down the ramp. I can’t really explain why I had a real connection with that subway, perhaps as it book ended some great memories from days out, then we returned home with the hustle and bustle of the road above, safe in our echoey subway.
Anyway I digress, Horsewash lane, I’ve investigated the history behind the area, through Medway Council Archive Centre and CityArk online, both of which note that horse washing took place at this point at the river from around 1828, as depicted in sketches found from the Frindsbury side of the river. The lane has been documented to have been there since 1548 (then known as St Clements Lane) when the Parish of St Clements declined following Henry the 8th’s united church policy. The City ark document noted that in 1851 an arch from the Church of St Clements was found when the new bridge was being built. This Lane linking to the area know as ‘The Common’ hosted many a market in its hey day including wheat, cattle, corn. It is refreshing to see that the traditional markets of Medway are being kept alive such as the Rochester Farmers Market and Rochester Flea.
Visiting the area today, it is very run down, fenced off, with no real evidence of the interesting area that it once was, it feels unloved and neglected (apart from the graffiti and the coach park). The old subway is now boxed in, the stairs removed, and a new pedestrian crossing now takes it’s place. With the new Rochester Riverside housing development, I wonder whether Horsewash Lanes new residents will even know that this place ever existed. So much of our local area is well documented, I don’t like to see those little gems not so well known, fall to the way side in our wonderful and rich local history.
The photographs I have taken show the area 2016, before further development takes place, and this area’s history is potentially forgotten.
On late winters sunny day I popped into the Rochester Flea, located in the Gordon Hotel on Rochester High Street.
A bustle of people popping in and out of the doors, with their recycled bags full of individual treats and goodies from the stall holders inside.
The Rochester Flea for me (like the Farmers Market) is a fantastic opportunity to source something individual and chat with local people who are passionate about their trades.
This feeling was so abundant especially when chatting with Ron from Papa’s Yankee Workshop. Ron’s passion for his carpentry is infectious. I was fascinated when he was telling me that all his items were made in his own workshop from reclaimed/found wood. I loved the lines in the tulip wood, and enjoyed looking at each of his gorgeous bespoke pieces.
Robin from Scorpio Gallery was another interesting person to chat to, it was good to have contact with a local Picture Framing service, since the sad closure of Langley Galleries on the High Street.
Now as you may know from my last post of Rochester Farmers Market, I love food! The Rochester Flea doesn’t disappoint on this front, as well as having some wonderful crafts, vintage clothing, house hold materials, reclaimed and reloved items, and even a Disco, there is Fikabrod.
Headed up by Rikard, Fikabrod is a Swedish bakery selling all kinds of original Swedish treats. I particularly love the cinnamon buns and the chocolate coconut balls! The photos probably don’t do it justice you have to sample the delights for yourself!
The next Flea is on 29th March 12-4 why not pop down and enjoy.