The aim of this study is to provide an architectural history of the medieval fabric of Rochester Cathedral, from its Saxon origins to the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The author places the development of the building in its artistic context by using comparisons with roughly contemporary buildings in order to assess the cathedral's significance, importance, and originality. Through an analysis of the surviving building and an examination of the documents relating to several campaigns of restoration, primarily in the nineteenth century, a new chronology for several phases of the building is proposed, significantly revising the conclusions of the standard work on the cathedral, that of W.H. St J. Hope, published in 1898/1900. The study also takes into account the extensive body of literature that has developed since Hope's study, on the Anglo-Saxon, Romanesque, and Gothic periods in Britain.
The methodology involved may in part be described as 'above ground' archaeology, that is, a careful examination of the building's fabric for what it tells us about its phases, chronology, and vanished parts, allied with documentary references and comparisons with other