Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

it was only rescued by the invincible nature of its own masonry, which resisted all efforts employed for its destruction. The staircase, however, is still accessible, in spite of the efforts made to destroy it, and retains the impressions of the winding centres on which the arches were turned. The floor of the

First Story was about thirteen feet from the ground. The holes in the walls opposite, where the timbers were laid, distinctly mark the different stages or floors. But the massive oaken joists were long since disposed of in the way we have mentioned, when the walls were finally dismantled, the interior laid open to the weather, and the timber of the Barons' Hall sold to construct Gimmet's brewhouse. These oaken joists were nearly a foot square, and about thirteen inches apart, but less in the upper floors, and extended from the outer wall to the centre partition, where their sockets still appear in the stone. In the west angle is another staircase, which ascends from the floor to the top of the tower, and, like the former, communicates with every

room.

In this story

The Rooms are about twenty feet high, and were probably intended for the accommodation of the Barons' household servants. The apartment in the north-east side, in the Small Tower over the prison, and into which the outward door of the grand entrance opened, was on this floor, and was about thirteen feet square, and richly ornamented with Norman chisel-work, in which the chevron moulding on the arches of the doors and windows is the characteristic feature. This room communicated with the state apartments in the Great Tower, by means of an archway, six feet by ten, and secured by means of a portcullis; the groove for which is well worked in the main wall thr gh to the next story. The rooms also communicate with each other, by means of arches in the partition; and in the external walls are many holes, or oeillets, for the admission of light, and the discharge of weapons in time of a siege. In the north angle of this floor, appears to have been a small room, with a fireplace in it, which antiquaries have described as the guardroom of certain officers of the garrison.* In the south-east is a small door intended, It is supposed, for those who were not admitted at the grand entrance; the inside of which is constructed in a manner peculiarly adapted for its security. From this floor we ascend by the principal staircase to

The State Apartments, or Barons' Hall, which, in point of size, proportion, decoration, and harmonious combination of parts, presents a noble specimen of Norman design and workmanship. The arches, doors, and window, are elaborately chiselled, and exhibit most of the beautiful mouldings of

[blocks in formation]

OF ROCHESTER.)

STATE APARTMENTS—CHIMNEYS.

157

which the architecture of that day was so prolific. This apartment was about thirty-two feet high, separated by three massive columns, each eighteen feet in height, forming four grand arches richly ornamented, and included the

[graphic][subsumed]

whole space within the walls. The stair leading to this was much more commodious than the others; and in cases of danger and necessity, the great warlike engines then in use could be set up in the hall,* for the immediate protection of its inmates.

The chimneys were semicircular, very capacious, and projected considerably into the rooms, and rested upon small pillars. The smoke was carried off from each fireplace by means of a perforation in the wall behind. The sinks

In the old palace of Stuttgardt, the grand stair- difficulty. It is the old feudal mansion of the Dukes case is so spacious, and so gradual in the ascent, that of Wirtemberg, and possesses many striking characa cavalier might asce and descend without any teristics of the castles of that age and couutry.

were so contrived in an oblique direction, that no weapon could be sent up them.* All the interior arches, doorways, and windows, are ornamented with the same carved mouldings as those already mentioned.

With respect to the Chapel in Rochester Castle, no precise account has been given; and even its place in the fortress is still a subject of conjecture. But that an oratory once existed here, as in all other strongholds of the same class, there can be no doubt; and in the upper story, next the battlements, are the remains of semicircular archest in the wall, which, perhaps, mark the spot under which stood the altar of the garrison Chapel. Other appearances in the same floor seem to strengthen the conjecture. At Arundel Castle, the Oratory as described in a first portion of this work, occupied the highest story of the Keep; and it seems by no means improbable, that in Rochester Castle the Chapel may have occupied a similar position. But if not here, there is no other part of the Castle with which any oratory or chapel can be so properly identified.

About midway in the ascent to the next or highest floor, there is a narrow arched

passage or gallery in the main wall, quite round the Tower. In the Upper Floor, the apartments appear to have been sixteen feet high. The roof, as above mentioned, was long since removed, and from top to bottom nothing is left but the naked walls. The stone gutters which carried off the rain are still entire. From this upper portion, the stair rises about ten feet higher to the top of the Great Tower, which is about one hundred and four feet from the ground, and surrounded with battlements and embrasures seven feet high. At each of the four angles is a turret, about twelve feet square, with floor and battlement above it. From this elevation the panoramic view of the country is highly interesting. The neighbouring heights, bristling with military forts and covered with standards; the Medway studded with ships, and seen as far as its confluence with the Thames; Brompton-Chatham Lines—the Dockyard-Upnor Castle—the wooded heights opposite; the bridge, once the most elegant in England-Strood, Rochester, Chatham, and numerous other scenes and objects with which the historical deeds of the past are closely associated—all awaken so deep and lasting an interest in the spectator's mind, that it would be difficult to select any point in the kingdom which embraces a landscape so various and so striking in its character.

A very accurate investigator of the antiquities of Rochester, and who

[ocr errors]

* See the Work above quoted.

appears that there was a Chapel in the Castle ; but † See the Engraving, p. 146, with these arches. whether in this Tower, or some other part, we cannot

| See also Mr. Dallaway on this subject; "Rape of determine. “It was named the King's Chapel, and Arundel;" Discourses on Architecture, 277.

the ministers that officiated in it were called King's § Froin a dateless rescript in the Regist. Roff. it Chaplains. Their stipend was fifty shillings a-year.”

OF ROCHESTER.)

SECRET ENTRANCE TO THE CASTLE.

159

resided in the neighbourhood and made repeated researches on the subject, was of opinion, that a wall must have extended originally from the tower in the east wall to that in the west. The ground to the north of this partitionwall would answer to what in other Norman castles is often called the inner ballium, bayle, or court-yard. Several towers were stationed in the angles and sides of the Castle-walls, to give more scope to the besieged in the distribution of their forces; and, in particular, there was a large tower at the north angle, for the security of the bridge. Near this tower is a long opening in the wall from top to bottom, which is supposed to have been used for the secret conveyance of stores and necessaries, from boats in the river, into the Castle. In the south angle of the walls, there was another tower; and, from the number of loop-holes, it must have been designed to annoy an enemy who had succeeded in any attack on the south gate of the city. At a small distance from this tower are steps descending to Bully or Boley Hill;* and while the Castle was in force, there might be here a postern gate to this part of the outworks.

In a survey of this gigantic fortress and its now deserted walls, the imagination is powerfully awakened. It speaks audibly of generations long since swept away; when the life of a chieftain, as Mr. Dallaway observes, appears to have been passed in building castles, and in defending them when not actively employed in destroying those of others. Although constructed as if to last for ages, the long reign of Henry the Third, spent in a ceaseless contest between the King and his revolting Barons, affords numerous instances of fortresses which were scarcely finished before the outworks, at least, were levelled with the ground. They more frequently escaped utter ruin after a long and obstinate siege. This demolition was effected by means of vast military engines, such as the catapulta and battering-ram, the use of which had been retained, and applied according to the Roman system of war. These observations belong likewise to the Barons' wars in the reign of the second Edward. We cannot, indeed, in the words of the same authority, fairly

[graphic]

* From the many urns and lachrymatories found on Boley Hill, there is no doubt but it was the buryingplace of the Romans, when stationed at Rochester. Denne's Antiquit. Rochester.

† Military Architecture in England.—Dallaway, 285.

account for the total subversion of so many castles as the Chronicles have asserted, but by concluding that after a castle was taken, the whole soldiery engaged as victors did not leave until the entire demolition was effected, agreeably to the sentence—“funditus demoliendum!"* The Castle of Rochester is one of the few that have survived the effects of time and revolutions; and in the almost entire state of its Keep and other subordinate compartments, distinctly points out the living manners of the people, and their warlike operations during the turbulent periods of the national history.

In process of time, several improvements, both in respect to military strength and commodious habitation, were adopted in these Norman fortresses. The second ballium was protected by smaller towers; and those of the barbican and gate of entrance admitted of spacious rooms. In these the feudal Baron resided with his family, who only made use of the Keep during a siege, or when driven to it as a place of securityť under any sudden danger or alarm.

In Rochester Castle there was this peculiarity among others, the passage or narrow gallery which was lighted from the interior and by a small loophole. This passage did not run horizontally, but rose unequally, and without were

steep steps leading to a false portal. This served as a military stratagem, by means of which, in the most desperate circumstances, the conflict might be kept up by the besieged even after the Keep itself had been forcibly entered. Each successive rise in the gallery was a point which

could be defended by the inmates, who, when driven back, could take up a second position in the same passage, which, by its elevation, would give them a similar command over their assailants, while only a few of their own body were exposed at once. These and similar contrivances and decoys evince great ingenuity on the part of the architects.

Another peculiarity in Rochester Castle, is the absence of the lofty artificial mound on which so many of the ancient castles are built, and of which that of Arundel, already described, is an instance. But Gundulph, the architect

[graphic]

* Dis

urses.-Milit. Archit.

† Dallaway's Discourses, etc.

« AnteriorContinua »