St James' Church

Medway Towns

Type:Church / Chapel

Main Road, Cooling, Rochester, Kent, ME3 8DG
Exterior of St James Church, Rochester, Kent


St James' Church dates from the late 13th century. No evidence of an earlier building survives. It seems likely that the de Cobham family, who held the manor from 1241, were instrumental in its construction. The nave, chancel and the lower part of the tower were part of the initial building phase stretching into the 14th century. The tower was completed to the height at which it now stands by about 1400.

The church itself is built of a characteristic Kentish mixture of ragstone and flint, with a variety of other stone, including chalk, also to be seen. The tower was probably the final part of the church to be completed, at the end of the 14th century.

St James' Church is well known for its association with Charles Dickens, who lived nearby in Higham, and who is thought to have set the opening to Great Expectations in its churchyard, complete with the row of children's tombstones now inevitably referred to as Pip's graves.

In fact the Cooling graves belong to the children of two families, aged between 1 month and about a year and a half, who died in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Book Tickets


Map & Directions

Road Directions

St James' Church is located approximately 6 miles north of Rochester. It can be reached via the B2000 from the M2/A2.

Public Transport Directions

Higham rail station is approximately 3.5 miles from the church. If travelling by bus use the Arriva service 133 to Cliffe.

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