When we came home after eight years in Africa we lived for a time in Rochester, Kent, on the shores of the River Medway. It is an ancient town with cathedral, castle and cobbled streets. It’s also a place that goes in for plenty of fun activities.
For a start there’s a strong Charles Dickens connection. The writer lived in the area and in particular based some of the locations of his novel Great Expectations in and around the town. Every year, and to mark this important literary association, there is a Dickens Festival. This mostly involves people dressing up in appropriate costumes and parading about the streets. For some reason we have no photos so you’ll just have to imagine the fun of bumping into multiple versions of Miss Haversham out on the High Street.
Instead here we have the Rochester Sweeps Festival, an annual gathering that mostly involves Morris groups from across the land, but with a scattering of chimney sweeps plus a few Green Men thrown in. This particular event has been going for nearly forty years, but it harks back to centuries’ old festivities.
I attempted to unravel the history in an earlier post. So if you wish to know more about arcane English pursuits go here: Unexpected with bells, sticks and hankies at the Sweeps Festival
For now, here are a few more of Graham’s photos that did not feature in the original post. You can draw your own conclusions about the multiple cultural references, some more eccentric than others. The young women in black ‘Miss Whiplash’ ensembles hailed from the US: