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Earliest meeting: Thursday 29th August 1822
Final meeting: Friday 7th September 1860
The historic Kent town of Rochester, on the River Medway just 30 miles from London, was the home of Charles Dickens who lived at Gads Hill Place. The Rochester and Chatham racecourse was situated on Chatham Lines and first held races on Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August 1822. The launch meeting opened with a 2 mile Sweepstake which saw Mr Farrall’s Don Cossack filly defeat Sir J Honeywood’s chestnut colt by Blucher. On the second day the meeting was concluded by a Sweepstake which was won by Mr Lucy’s Frolic. By 1823 the meeting had become a 3 day affair, running from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th August 1823 on a course of 9 furlongs in circumference with a straight run in of just 2 furlongs. It seems highly appropriate that the Chatham Plate was won by Chatham owned by Mr Farrall, while Mr D Page’s Prosody won both the Member’s Plate and the Rochester City Plate. At the September 1839 meeting the racecourse celebrated army successes by staging the Western Division Plate and the Officers Town Plate. Meetings continued to be well supported annually until a final meeting on Friday 7th September 1860 when the concluding Kent Stakes saw Mr Charles’s Gibraltar beat Winkfield and Killigrew.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Captain Becher, Mr Best, Captain White, Mr Topham (Clerk of Course)

Principal Races Chatam Town Plate, Rochester City Plate, Member's Plate

Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th August 1823

Chatham Plate over a mile and a distance
1. Chatham owned by Mr Farrall

Rochester and Chatham Member’s Plate over 2 miles
1. Prosody owned by Mr D.Page

Rochester City Plate over 2 miles
1. Prosody owned by Mr D.Page

Chatham Town Plate over 2 miles
1. Gift owned by Mr Brown

I am grateful to Andy Thrower for the scan of the rare racecard shown below, part of his magnificent collection.

Friday 8th August 1823
Rochester & Chatam Town Plate of £50 over 2 miles

1. Gift owned by Mr Browne 1 1
2. Fortune Teller owned by Mr Hulke 2 2
3. Vanloo owned by Mr Hulke 3 wdr
4. Vapour owned by Mr Bowle 4 3
5. Prosody owned by Mr Page wdr
Sweepstake with £30 added over 2 miles
1. Playful owned by Mr Howard 2 1 1
2. Grasshopper owned by Mr Friend 1 2 3
3. Jerry Hawthorn owned by Mr Quested 3 3 2
4. Stafford owned by Mr Ashenden 4 4 wdr
Hunters’ Stakes with £30 added over 2 miles
1. Shamrock owned by Mr Ryegate 1 1
2. Fencer owned by Mr Wollett 2 2
3. Pat owned by Mr Hulke wdr
4. George owned by Mr Hickman bolted

Wednesday 4th August to Friday 6th August 1824

Rochester Plate over a mile and a furlong
1. Maid of Kent owned by Mr Brown
2. Greylock owned by Mr Coleman
3. Irene owned by Mr Waller

Rochester City Plate
1. Fortune Teller owned by Mr Whyte
2. Scud owned by Mr Hook
3. Warrior owned by Mr Damant

Chatham Plate
1. Irene owned by Mr Waller
2. Greylock owned by Mr Coleman
3. Maid of Kent owned by Mr Brown

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf notes that Rochester and Chatham hold a two day meeting and records the September 1839 races as:-
Western Division Town Plate;
Members Town Plate;
Officers Town Plate;

The final meeting took place on Friday 7th September 1860.

Course today A 9 furlong course with a 2 furlong straight at Chatham Lines.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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