rochester history

David Bowie was arrested in upstate New York on March 21, 1976 on a felony pot possession charge. Bowie, 29 at the time, was nabbed along with Iggy Pop and two other co-defendants at a Rochester hotel following a concert. Bowie was held in the Monroe County jail for a few hours before being released. The above Rochester Police Department mug shot was taken three days after Bowie’s arrest, when the performer appeared at City Court for arraignment.

Hi my name is John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester and I have a long curly brunette periwig with chestnut highlights that reaches my mid-back and sultry dark eyes and a lot of people tell me I write like Lucretius (AN: if u don’t know who he is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to Ovid but I wish I was because he was a major fucking hottie. I’m Literal Sin Incarnate but people say I look like an angel or a saint lol. I have pale white skin. I’m also a courtier, I have to hang out at the royal court at Whitehall in London where I’m a gentleman of the bedchamber (I’m a nihilist but it is still kind of flattering when the King of England laughs at ur jokes). I’m a libertine (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly red because it’s the colour of passion and also it pisses off the Puritans. I love France and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a lace cravat and a ruffled long-sleeve white shirt with lace cuffs, a loose scarlet satin jacket and matching petticoat breeches, white stockings and ribboned court shoes. I was wearing white powder and rouge on my cheeks to hide the marks of the pox. I was walking in St. James’s Park. It was late at night so there were no Puritans and loads of sin and debauchery, which I was very happy about. A lot of dull fops stared at me. I put up my middle finger at them.

Rochester Cathedral
Rochester, Kent

Made a cathedral in 604 CE, Rochester is the seat of the second oldest bishopric in England. Much of its architecture dates back to the 11th century when it was headed by Bishop Gundulf – a Norman monk who would later go on to lead the construction of Rochester Castle, the White Tower of the Tower of London, and Colchester Castle. 

Catherine of Braganza: Poems

Catherine arrived in Portsmouth on 13 May 1662. It had been a long and stormy crossing, and as soon as she arrived she asked for a cup of tea. So rare was it at this time that there was none available; the princess was offered a glass of ale instead. Not surprisingly, this did not make her feel any better, and for a time she was forced by illness to retire to her bedchamber. Eventually though Catherine and Charles II were married, on 21 May 1662. Initially Catherine, a deeply pious Catholic who had been schooled in a convent, found it difficult to fit in at the bawdy and fun-loving English court. But over time she established herself, and as the pre-eminent woman in the kingdom became something of a trend-setter. Although she adopted English fashions, she continued to prefer the cuisine of her native Portugal - including tea. Soon her taste for tea had caused a fad at the royal court. This then spread to aristocratic circles and then to the wealthier classes. In 1663 the poet and politician Edmund Waller wrote a poem in honour of the queen for her birthday:

Venus her Myrtle, Phoebus has his bays;
Tea both excels, which she vouchsafes to praise.
The best of Queens, the best of herbs, we owe
To that bold nation which the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize.
The Muse’s friend, tea does our fancy aid,
Regress those vapours which the head invade,
And keep the palace of the soul serene,
Fit on her birthday to salute the Queen.

Edmund Waller dedicated another poem to the Portuguese Queen after she recovered from a serious illness, which sadly caused the death of her first unborn child. The poem also shows Charles devotion and love for his Queen.

In the month of October 1663, Catherine was attacked by a dangerous illness. In the wanderings of her delirium she imagined that she had become the mother of a son; a circumstance which ( as it would have rendered her of considerable importance, both in the eyes of her husband, and of the nation at large,) was naturally at the uppermost importance in her thoughts. Among other morbid fantasies, she expressed her wonder that she should have been delivered without pain, but seemed afflicted at the notion that her imaginary child was ugly. Charles, who stood vigil at her bedside, insisted, with a view of soothing her, that he was very pretty boy.

“Ah!” she replied, “ if it were like you it would be a fine boy indeed, and I should be well pleased.”

The disorder gradually gaining force, Charles is said to have been affected, and even to have wept over his injured wife.

Waller, in his verse to the Queen on her recovery, alludes to the unexpected sympathy of her husband in the following lines:-

Farewell the year! which threatened so

The fairest light the world can show.

Welcome the new! whose every day,

Restoring what was snatched away

By pining sickness from the fair,

That matchless beauty does repair

So fast, that the approaching spring,

(Which does to flowery meadows bring

What the rude winter from them tore)

Shall give her all she had before.

But we recover not so fast

The sense of such a danger past;

We that esteemed you sent from heaven,

A pattern to this island given,

To show us what the blessed do there

And what alive they practised here,

When that which we immortal thought,

We saw so near destruction brought,

Felt all which you did then endure,

And tremble yet, as not secure.

So though the sun victorious be,

And from a dark eclipse set free,

The influence, which we fondly fear,

Afflicts our thoughts the following year.

But that which may relieve our care

Is, that you have a help so near

For all the evil you can prove,

The kindness of your royal love;

He that was never known to mourn,

So many kingdoms from him torn,

His tears reserved for you, more dear,

More prized, than all those kingdoms were!

For when no healing art prevailed,

When cordials and elixirs failed,

On your pale cheek he dropped the shower,

Revived you like a dying flower.

During her sickness, and in the belief that her days were numbered, the Queen affectingly appealed to her husband’s feelings, imploring him to give his support to her native country in its contest with Spain, and, when she was dead, to allow her body to be interred among her own relatives, and in her own land of Portugal. Charles, at this moment, is said to have fallen onto his knees, and to have bathed his wife’s hands with his own tears.

There was also another poem dedicated to her, although perhaps in the most unsavoury of ways. The poet’s name in question was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester - so, there can be no stretch to the imagination as to the contents of this certain poem.

One day, we are told, the King and some of his courtiers were drinking some “Lisbon” (Portuguese white wine) and were trying to think up a rhyme for Lisbon. The Earl of Rochester coming in… Now, says the king, here’s one that will do it.

“None of us can make a rhyme to Lisbon” the King tells Rochester.

“No!” says the Earl. “That is strange! If it please your majesty?”

“Why! can you do it?” the King asks.

“Yes, Sir.” the Earl nods. “In a stanza, if your majesty will grant me your pardon?”

“You’re thinking up some mischief now.” The King says, smiling upon Rochester, “Well, I grant you my pardon.”

Upon which, Rochester, taking a glass of wine in his hand, said;

A health to Kate!
Our sovereign’s mate,
Of the royal house of Lisbon.
But the Devil take Hyde,
And the bishop beside
Who made her bone his bone.

At which the king, biting his lips, and frowning at Rochester, bid him be gone.


I was recently commissioned to photograph five generations of descendants of Solomon Northup, author of “12 Years a Slave”. The feature can be seen in this week’s newsstand ‘Oscar’s Edition’ of The Hollywood Reporter as well as here.

However small, I feel honored to play a role in the sharing of Solomon Northup’s legacy. It was definitely an experience that I’ll always treasure. Enjoy!

Rochester Castle
Rochester, Kent

Completed in the 12th century, Rochester Castle stands out as one of England’s most significant medieval fortifications. Owing to its strategic position on the River Medway, the castle was targeted during the First and Second Barons’ Wars (1215-1217;1264-1267) and the 14th century Peasants’ Revolt. Its stone keep remains one of the best preserved in all of Western Europe 

The History of Propaganda

Propaganda is the method of altering someone’s ideals, beliefs or morals through the use of posters, TV, films and books. This altering of mindset is usually to influence a decision such as joining the military, or voting for a certain politician. 

Propaganda is one of the most blamed reasons for brain washing and extremism in modern terrorist organisations, religions and countries such as North Korea. 

Propaganda was most famously used to convince people to sign up and join the military during the Great War and World War II. Governments on every side of the war decided to create propaganda during the war to boost morale, attract more soldiers and to make the opposition out to be evil and destructive. In agriculture, propaganda was produced for women to have more independence and grow their own food to help deal with rationing during wartime and also grow their overall confidence and make them more equal to men than ever before. 

TV, Film, Books and Posters were the main outlets to produce propaganda to promote the nation’s ideas. Famous examples include:

Ghosts of Rochester Castle, Kent, England

The castle is said to be haunted by Lady Blanche de Warren. Her apparition has been seen many times staggering along with an arrow protruding from her chest. It is said that she was accidentally killed by her fiance during Easter in 1264. The arrow was shot by her betrothed in an attempt to protect her from the unwanted affections of another man. Tragically, the arrow bounced off the armor of its intended target and hit Lady Blanche in the heart, killing her instantly.

The alleged ghost of Charles Dickens has also been reported at the castle near the Old Burial Ground. Dickens loved Rochester Castle and at one time expressed his wish to be buried there. After his death, he was deemed too important for such a humble resting place so he was buried at Westminster Abbey instead. However, his ghost seems to return to the place that he loved.

In addition to Lady Blance and Charles Dickens, a ghostly drummer boy is said to inhabit the castle grounds as well. His drumming can be heard at night every now and then.

Built after the Norman Conquest of England, the 12th-century castle keep is one of the best preserved in England. Rochester was a strategically important royal castle built on the site of a Roman town at the junction of the River Medway and Watling Street, an old Roman road. The castle is a Norman tower-keep made of Kentish ragstone and was built about 1127 by William of Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, with the encouragement of Henry I. Consisting of three floors above a basement, it still stands 113 feet high.

In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured a long  siege by King John. Having first undermined the outer wall, John used the fat of 40 pigs to fire a mine under the keep, bringing its southern corner crashing down. Even then the defenders held on, until they were eventually starved out after resisting for two months. The castle was rebuilt by Henry III and Edward I and remained as a viable fortress until the sixteenth century.

Made with Flickr

Over at Lapham’s Quarterly, Alice Gregory has an appreciation of one of my favorite ever historical badasses, John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester – a notorious rake who was given a pension by Charles II for his ability to bust an extemporaneous rhyme, and then eventually banished from court (more than once!) because the ensuing rhymes were so filth-tacularly disrespectful. The politician Horace Walpole, writing several decades later, called him “a man whom the muses were fond to inspire but ashamed to avow.”

Fun fact: In the 1670s, Rochester and his rowdy friends actually founded a society called The Ballers, devoted to all kinds of sexual hijinks. And you thought being a baller was a modern phenomenon!

I particularly love Gregory’s description of the relationship between the king and the poet:

Rochester received favors in the form of land, money, and women from Charles II, but the symmetry of the friendship is hard to parse. Considering the constant humiliation, disrespect, and ridicule the king endured at Rochester’s hand, one is forced to conclude that there was some sort of inconspicuous symbiosis between the two. In this light, the friendship begins to resemble one of those inscrutable wingmanships that occur at Manhattan nightclubs, wherein a socially incompetent millionaire buy drinks for a charming (but unemployed) young man.

There’s a limited amount of Rochester’s poetry that we can reproduce here without resorting to the Warning Puppy, so here are just a few lines of a satire on the king that resulted in one of many banishments from court:

Restless he rolls about from whore to whore,
A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.

You can find more of his poetry (including the infamous “Signior Dildo” here.

Wilmot burned too fiercely to last; his health deteriorated and he died in his thirties, most likely of some combination of venereal diseases.  But hey, Johnny Depp played him in a movie, and Johnny Depp can make anything look kind of hot:

External image

– Petra


1954 Studebaker Commander Conestoga Ambulet Ambulance by Greg Gjerdingen
Via Flickr:
Professional Car Society International Meet 2014 Respond to Rochester Host: Northland Chapter (Celebrating Northland’s 25th Anniversary) PCS Concours D'Elagance Show & Shine August 16, 2014 Olmstead County History Center Rochester, Minnesota You can see more car pictures by clicking on the link below:…

Next up in Rochester’s Rich History: Tea With Mrs. Jeffrey

January 16, 2016, 1-2:30 pm

Presented by Robin Nowell

Join us for an afternoon with Mrs. Jeffrey and learn more about her fascinating life as an advocate for the causes of education, suffrage, and equality. Mrs. Jeffrey was instrumental to the effort to erect a bronze statue of Frederick Douglass in Rochester and was tireless in organizing African American women. A close friend and associate of Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Jeffrey was chosen to deliver a eulogy at her funeral.

Edible Fungi Interview with Olga (smugtownmushrooms)

How did you get into foraging for mushrooms?

It started about 8 years ago… I was always interested in botany and was taking a course at our local Community College, when I stumbled across the ever most inspiring class called “The Natural History of Rochester” taught by the genius Steve Daniel. This professor knew everything growing, forming and singing in the natural world around us.  He inspired me to take a deeper look outside of the Plant Kingdom and dwell deeper into other realms.  One class though was the trigger… we went to a local park that is one of the only places in Western New York that has naturally occuring ponds that were once formed by glaciers 12,000 years ago, on that day we found over a hundred different varieties of Fungi and about 40 pounds worth that were edible.  I was like, “Are you serious? There’s free food by the pounds in the forest? Breakfast, Lunch and DInner!” At first it was all about the food aspect but the more I studied and became immersed into Fungi I realized they held secrets to food sovereignty, health and becoming closer to the natural world.

What is your most fond foraging experience?

Oh dear, how do I count thy ways?? Every experience is amazing.  Its always great finding a huge haul the second you walk into the forest.  Its almost like welcome gift by the forest faeries or something.  But as I have already mentioned,  I live in the Great Lakes bio-region in Rochester NY. Where the weather in early spring can be either a foot of snow still or eighty degrees.  Last spring, in early May we had classic mid Spring temperature, blooming Lilacs and Magnolias all around, temperatures in the favor of the growing season ahead.  One day, we decide to take a hike to a new woodlot to look for the elusive Morel.  Which, at that time, I still have not had the privilege to find and try.  Well, that day was a warning of high winds and a blizzard!! Yet we still hike and are on our hands and knees in the under brush, plucking our first Morels we have ever found!  Days before we are sunbathing and that day, wet, cold, snow is hitting our faces, and we are wrapped in wool, romping around the woods with a basket filled with our first Morels ever!!  Oh the glory!

Do you have a favorite mushroom?

Its hard to pin point a favorite! Believe it or not I love finding Amanitas, of all kinds, A. muscaria for the sense that THIS mushroom may have created consciousness as we know it and A. phalloides for being a potent killer, the toughest mushroom in the forest. That it has the power to take life is SO powerful and to be in its presence is quite humbling. But this past fall I was in the Pacific Northwest and found my first cauliflower mushroom or Sparassis crispa!  Lordy lord what a beauty and a delicious find. I have to say this species might be my new favorite edible out there.  But the list could go on..and on..

Is there a mushroom you are really wanting to find?

Hmmm…Well my love affair for Amanitas make it tempting to find an edible variety out there.  My family originates from the mountains of Greece and when I visit there, the natives always harp that the Amanita caesarea is the best.  Alas, when I have gone to visit, its not in season.  One day!! I shall eat an Amanita!  But runner up would be Lepiota americana.  I feel like Ive found these dozens of times but havent had the proper IDing or confidence that it was what it was, so I’ve always tossed these potential edibles to the compost pile.  As they say: When in doubt, throw it out!


Want to be interviewed? Answer the questions above & include a favourite picture of yourself foraging or mushrooms you have picked and submit! If you don’t have a tumblr, you can email me at Make sure to include a link to your tumblr or any sites of yours that you want to share. Interviews are posted on Tuesdays whenever possible.