© Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Eastgate House, a treasured 16th century townhouse in the heart of historic Rochester will be open to the public throughout Heritage Open Days, from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 September.

This will be the final opportunity for visitors to see the whole house before work begins on a heritage lottery funded project to transform the house into an exhibition and community space.

Celebrating England’s extraordinary architecture and culture, the Heritage Open Days scheme offers free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Throughout its 400-year history, Eastgate House has been a family home, a school and a museum, as well as being immortalised in two of Charles Dickens’ most famous novels, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and The Pickwick Papers. Friendly, knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand to talk about the house’s history, and visitors may even encounter some characters from the past emerging from the shadows between its winding staircases and fascinating rooms.

Visitors can also take part in a unique time capsule and become a part of the house’s future history, by leaving their comments about their visit on a postcard, along with any thoughts they wish about their life in the area in 2013 – even a drawing or doodle. The cards will then be collected up and left somewhere in the house for future generations to discover. Eastgate House will be open from 10am to 4pm daily from Thursday, 12 to Sunday, 15 September and admission is free.

Among the Medway properties also taking part in Heritage Open Days are Fort Amherst, Chatham, The Guildhall Museum, The Old Brook Pumping Station, Solomon’s Road in Chatham, The Hospital of Sir John Hawkins Knight in Chatham, Temple Manor in Strood and Upnor Castle Barrack Block – Britain’s second oldest purpose built barracks. For further details of opening times call Medway Visitor Information Centre on 01634 843666 or visit the Heritage Open Days web site http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk