Rochester's Mystery Book – Textus Roffensis

Textus Roffensis is a handwritten set of documents known as a Codex. It is really two books bound together some time in the 14th century. The first part is a collection of law codes and Charters that affected how society behaved and was judged.

What does Textus Roffensis mean?

It means Book of Rochester and its name suggests that it was an extremely precious book to the monks. Textus means more than just book. It means the volume had high status. It would have had a coloured, bejewelled front cover and would have been placed near the high altar inside the Cathedral. 

Who wrote Textus Roffensis?

We don’t know who wrote Textus Roffensis but we know he was a monk at Rochester and experts think that it was written by one person with 2 or 3 other people making later additions. The script is called Rochester Prickly which is unique to documents from Rochester Priory.

Where was it written?

It was written on site, probably in the scriptorium on the south side of the cloisters (now the Garth Garden). It is amazing to think that 900 years ago a monk was creating Textus Roffensis approximately 50 metres from where you are standing now.

Language

Textus Roffensis is written in two languages. The first is Old English (Anglo Saxon) and the other is Latin. Old English was the language of the English people before William the Conqueror invaded. Latin was always the language of the Church, law and educated people, so many Charters and documents were written in Latin.

Textus Roffensis is on permanent display in the exhibition space in the Cathedral crypt.

The Crypt is open Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 16:00, Sunday 12:00 – 16:00
Occasionally access may be restricted due to services or special events.


The Book and the Bridge: from Textus Roffensis to the Rochester Bridge Trust

 New stone bridge begun in 1387 and completed in 1391

New stone bridge begun in 1387 and completed in 1391

The Crypt is the oldest part of the Cathedral dating from the 1080s. A thousand years before that time the Romans were building the very first bridge across the Medway at Rochester. Spanning the centuries, Rochester's Mystery Book known as the Textus Roffensis links that ancient first-century bridge with today's modern bridges. 

To find out more visit the exhibition and solve the mystery of the Book and the Bridge!

 

The Crypt is open Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 16:00, Sunday 12:00 – 16:00
Occasionally access may be restricted due to services or special events.
Admission FREE