Guildhall Museum

High Street Rochester Kent ME1 1PY

Local museums are so often a waste of time unless you have a specific interest, but Rochester's Guildhall Museum, housed in one of the town's – and Kent's – finest historic buildings, is as fascinating a general local museum as you would expect. It's housed in the late seventeenth-century Guildhall, and a very fitting venue it is too, with a grand staircase and main hall whose paintings and furnishings are worth visiting whether you're interested in the museum or not (it's a big local marriage venue). In the museum proper exhibits include a mock-up of one of the 'hulks' or prison ships that in Victorian times used to lie offshore in the estuary not far from here (and which featured so prominently in Great Expectations); there's also, naturally enough, a Dickens room, exploring the writer's local connections, a hoard of old toys, and all sorts of paintings and artefacts relating to Rochester and the Medway area's rich past, including the most extensive set of cabinet-makers' tools in the world. Plus there's a CCTV camera you can fiddle with, which keeps a permanent eye of the rooftops and old buildings of central Rochester. What's more, it's free.