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Rochester City Status

Why was our city status lost?

The first Royal Charter to recognise Rochester’s city status was granted during the reign of King Henry III in 1227.

In 1974 the City of Rochester became part of a new Borough of Medway, which also included the former Borough of Chatham and part of the former Rural District of Strood.  Before the merger, and at the special request of the outgoing city council, the Queen granted Letters Patent which maintained the status of Rochester as a city within the Borough of Medway.  In 1982, following a change of name to Rochester upon Medway, the Queen again granted Letters Patent which extended Rochester’s city status to the whole of the Borough; hence the area became the City of Rochester upon Medway.

In 1998 Rochester upon Medway City Council and Gillingham Borough Council were abolished and a new unitary authority – Medway Council – created for the whole of the Medway Towns.  Advice was given by the Government to the outgoing city council as to the steps it should take if city status were to be retained.  That advice was rejected and so our city status lapsed.

How can city status be recovered?

The Government have made clear that city status will be granted only to an area with a local authority, which rules out a return of city status solely to historic Rochester, since it has neither a parish nor a district council of its own.  Moreover, city status is granted very sparingly and, in modern times, has usually marked special occasions or anniversaries.  As part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 city status was granted to Chelmsford, St Asaph and Perth. Medway Council entered a bid but were unsuccessful.

The City of Rochester Society agrees that the Medway Towns are worthy of city status and the Society was – and is – prepared to support the Council in their quest for that status provided that it is made in the name of Rochester, or Rochester upon Medway.


  • Up to now city status has only been granted in the name of established towns. Medway is not a town; it is simply a unit of local government; and
  • This Society deplores the loss of Rochester’s city status in 1998 with no public notice or consultation, and is committed to doing all it can to regain that status.

What is your view?

If you agree with the Society’s position, please make your views known to your local councillor and/or your MP and/or the Chief Executive, Medway Council.


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