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BISHOP GUNDULPH-WEST GALLERY.
who enjoyed “the greatest celebrity in the reigns immediately succeeding the Conquest, appears to have considered the artificial mound, originally of Danish usage, as unnecessary." His castles are distinguished from all others of that period by their stately dimensions, and the genius displayed in their design-by the military contrivances already mentioned, and by the solidity and skilful execution of the workmanship. His central towers are so lofty as to contain four distinct floors: in the basement was the dungeon without light; while the portal, or grand entrance, was many feet above the ground, so that the necessity for an artificial mound was greatly obviated. But his greatest merit consisted in various architectural contrivances, by means of which as much security was afforded to his Keeps, as by their elevation and real strength.* Bishop Gundulph died at the commencement of the twelfth century, but having completed the Tower of London and the Castle of Rochester, he may be considered as having invented and left models of that description of castle architecture, which, in the opinion of all competent judges, bear ample testimony to his abilities as an architect. He was consecrated bishop of Rochester by his illustrious patron the archbishop Lanfranc, in March, 1077, and lived thirty years in possession of the see.
He is said to have been the first who introduced the architectural ornaments of the Norman style both within side and without.” Of this, the interior of the state apartments affords abundant evidence; and whoever takes a view of these from the West Gallery leading round the inside of the court, cannot fail to be struck with the beauty of the chevron mouldings by which the principal arches of the doors and windows are all elaborately adorned. In many instances these mouldings appear quite sharp, as if fresh from the sculptor's chisel.
In the Castle of Rochester there is another portion in the basement story which is well deserving of attention. Over the present entrance is a temporary scaffolding of wood, supported by props of the same material inserted into the masonry beneath. On the left is a small arch with an inner door
* Military Architect. in England, p. 274. Antiq. of Roch
way; and immediately under the platform is one of larger span, showing the thickness of the wall. Within the latter, which is of strong compact workmanship faced with small blocks of stone, is a staircase, consisting of a flight of Caen stone steps which lead to the inner gallery, and thence to all the apartments. From this the light penetrates the enclosure underneath, streaming down the steps, but in such a manner as to increase rather than diminish the effect produced by a survey of this melancholy receptacle. It was through this passage that, in feudal times, the prisoners and military captives were introduced to that destination which awaited them at the hands of the feudal lord. Standing in this dreary vestibule, with the door of the prison on the left, and the archway and main staircase that communicated with the Baron's Hall on the right, it requires but little force of imagination to conjure up one of the many scenes of mingled triumph and despair which must have often met and exchanged glances under that very arch. The same victory which awoke the sounds of festive mirth in the Hall, and summoned the Baron and his warlike knights to the feast, consigned his prisoners to the dungeon, where the bitterness of their fate was increased by their conscious vicinity to the Banquet Hall. Odo, it may be presumed, made much use of this gloomy appendix to his Castle; for the vast treasures which he collected during his occupation of the fortress were not secured without the frequent imprisonment and oppression of his vassals, and of those wealthier individuals in the
THE PRISON-THE BRIDGE.
this Castle, most of the old writers agree in representing him as an avaricious tyrant, whom the desire of riches impelled to the commission of every crime, and from whose prison nothing could ransom the captive but his gold. His grand object in accumulating so much wealth was to facilitate his advancement to the Papal crown, to which he ardently aspired. But his ambition was happily defeated by the measures already mentioned. The haughty prelate was himself thrown into prison; while the unhappy victims who filled the cells of Rochester Castle saw the prison doors burst suddenly open, and under that very arch, perhaps, met the welcome of those who had long regarded it as the living tomb of all their earthly hopes.
Environs.—The principal object in the immediate vicinity of the Castle is the Cathedral; but as that will be made the subject of a future article, the next prominent feature in the landscape is the Bridge. The first historical mention of a bridge at Rochester occurs in the various accounts of the siege, to which we have already adverted. “Now am I come to the bridge over the Medway,” says Lambard, “not that alone which we presentlie behold, but another, also more ancient in time though less beautiful in work, which neither stoode in the self same place where this is, neither yet verie farre off; for that crossed the water over against Stroud Hospital, and this latter is pitched some distance from thence towards the south.' " That old worke being of timber building, was fyred by Symon, the Earl of Leycester, in the time of Henry the Third; and not full twentie yeares after, it was borne away with the ice in the reign of King Edward, his sonne.” Kilburne, in addition to the above, says, that “Fitzwalter put out the fyre and saved it.” This, however, appears contrary to the fact; for in his attempt to co-operate with Albini, Fitzwalter marched no “further than Dartford, and then marched back again.” It was not till two years after that Leicester set fire to it in the manner described, when the wooden tower and arches were burnt down.
Dr. Thorpe, in his Antiquities, was of opinion that the first bridge over the Medway at this point, namely between Rochester and Stroud, was built in the reign of Edgar the Peaceable.f It is certain, however, that there was a bridge here before the Conquest, and that on divers tracts of land an annual tax was imposed for keeping it in repair. This is proved by several very ancient MSS., one of which, in the Saxon language, marks with exactness such portions of the work as were to be executed by the respective landlords. The bridge was then of wood, and placed in the line of the principal streets of Rochester and Stroud ;. it was four hundred and thirty feet in length, nearly the present breadth of the river at this place, and consisted of nine
* Lambard, Perambul. ed. 1576.
† Antiquities, p. 148.
piers with eight spaces or arches. But the depth of water, its constant rapidity, the occasional roughness of the tides, and the shocks of large bodies of ice at the breaking up of winter, occasioned such frequent and severe damage, that the repairs became a heavy burden to the owners of the contributory lands.*
In a petition presented to Parliament at the end of the fourteenth century, the landholders who were taxed for the repairs of the bridge were represented as having been nearly reduced to ruin in consequence, and that the bridge at the same time was very unsafe for passengers. Under these circumstances, Sir Robert Knowles and Sir John de Cobham built at their joint expense the present bridge, thereby relieving private individuals from an oppressive tax, and conferring a lasting benefit on the public. In the reign of Richard II. a patent was obtained from the crown, which was afterwards confirmed by the Parliament, for constituting the proprietors a body corporate, under the title of Wardens and Commonalty, and a license granted enabling them to receive, and hold in mortmain, lands and tenements to the amount of two hundred pounds per annum.
Sir John Cobham was the first and greatest benefactor, and his example was followed by such liberal donations from others that the estates usually termed proper, became in process of time justly adequate to the repairs of the bridge, without levying any assessment on the contributory lands.t
Until the erection of that at Westminster, Rochester Bridge was justly considered the second in the kingdom; and even now, after the splendid
structures which have sprung up
arches, the largest of which had a space of forty feet, and the others above thirty. At one of these spaces between the piers was formerly a drawbridge, by means of which the castellan who held command of the fortress could break off all communication with the opposite banks of the river. The greatest water-way is three hundred and forty feet. Joneval, † in his Travels, makes a mistake in supposing that this bridge “ is founded on a rock;" the piers rest on wooden piles, and to have laid the foundation of so massive a fabric in a river where the flux and reflux of the tide are so strong, must have been an arduous undertaking. Unfortunately
Antiq. of Rochester.
1 Kentish Traveller, p. 140. Joneval, p. 85.
ROCHESTER BRIDGE-HISTORICAL EVENTS.
the name of the architect has not descended to posterity, but the bridge is a lasting monument to his genius.*
At the east end of the bridge was formerly a chapel, founded by Sir John Cobham, with an endowment of eighteen pounds a year, payable out of the bridge lands, for the support of three priests. According to the rules established by the founder, three masses were to be said daily; the first between five and six in the morning, the second between eight and nine, and the third between eleven and twelve o'clock, so that travellers might have an opportunity of being present at the sacred offices. But at each mass there was to be a special collect for all the benefactors to the bridge, living or dead, and for the souls of Sir John Cobham and others, whose names were to be recited. There was another chapel at the west end of this bridge, but its exact site is not known.
Memorabilia.—When the Emperor Charles the Fifth made his second visit to England, in the summer of 1522, he arrived at Rochester on the second of June, where he was received by Henry the Eighth, and set out on the following day for London, or rather the royal palace of Greenwich. It was at Rochester, also, that King Henry had his first interview with Anne of Cleves, whose reception at Blackheath has been already described. Her picture, it is said, had been drawn in so flattering a manner by Holbein, that the amorous monarch, impatient to see the original, set out incognito for Rochester on the morning of her expected arrival in that city, and in the evening was among the first to bid her welcome. The painter, however, was detected in having practised a great deception : Anne was not the divinity represented on the canvas; Henry was disappointed, and is recorded to have vented his chagrin in terms far from complimentary to the Lady Anne, or the minister who had negotiated the alliance. This, however, he disguised; and before taking leave presented her with a “suit of sables, as a new year's gift.”.
In April, 1556, Rochester was the theatre of one of those horrid scenes which disgraced the reign of Queen Mary. John Harpole, of St. Nicholas parish, and Joan Beach, of Tunbridge, were burnt alive as heretics, according
* Such were the general features of this bridge navigation in the Medway above Rochester. The down to 1793, when a series of improvements was balustrade is formed of white freestone, very substancommenced under the direction of Mr. Alexander, a tial and elegant in appearance, with commodious footLondon architect. The breadth of the road-way then paths on either side ; and the whole expense was was increased from fifteen to twenty-seven feet, by defrayed from the improved income of the bridgespringing new arches in every opening of the bridge estates, without establishing any toll upon the from the points of the piers in the old work, without thoroughfare. Since that period it has undergone any new foundations. The centre arch was then various minor repairs, and with the Castle in the backformed by throwing the two middle arches into one, ground, and the various trading craft passing and reand is nearly as large as that of Blackfriars, London ; passing with every tide, few objects can be more 80 that great convenience has been offered to the pleasing and picturesque than the bridge of Rochester.