Kent Cathedral to Host English Wine Festival for the First Time in 1,000 Years

An exclusive English wine festival is set to take place in the hallowed halls of Rochester Cathedral this autumn for the first time in a millennium.

Rochester Cathedral is to host The Wine Garden of England Festival at Rochester Cathedral in November in celebration of Kent’s wine producers and to honour one of the county’s very first producers – a monk who championed viticulture at the cathedral more than 1,000 years ago.

The event is organised by the Dean and Chapter of Rochester and the newly formed Wine Garden of England partnership, and will take place in the cathedral crypt on Saturday 17th November.  The Wine Garden of England is made up of seven Kent wine producers: Biddenden, Chapel Down, Domaine Evremond, Gusbourne, Hush Heath Estate, Simpsons Wine Estate and Squerryes.

The ticketed event, sponsored by Southeastern, will be the first public outing for the Kentish wine partnership, with the producing wineries offering tutored tastings and talks about their wines in sessions throughout the day. There will be three, two-hour sessions on the day, and attendees will receive their own branded wine glass and have the chance to meet the producers themselves and sample 30 wines. Tickets are on sale now via the Wine Garden of England website.

The event will be held in memory of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester from 1077 to 1108.  Gundulf was a monk who came to England following the Norman Conquest and is renowned for building several castles and cathedrals, including those at Rochester. He was also Kent’s first known wine producer, overseeing the care of the vineyards in the grounds of the Priory and the production of wine for the monks.

Dean of Rochester Cathedral, Philip Hesketh said: “When Gundulf died, the monks of Rochester held an annual wine festival in his memory, hence my inspiration to restore this tradition!  It was a natural fit for the newly formed Wine Garden of England partnership, and I am delighted that Kent’s flourishing vineyards have supported this initiative with great enthusiasm and commitment.” 



Access to the blessing of the wine on Friday 16thNovember is open to all and will be held in the main cathedral during Evensong (

Wine Garden of England Festival at Rochester Cathedral