Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

The Kitchens, three in number, occupied the whole space between the

keep and the strong tower on the north-west. The buildings are in total dilapidation; but the important office to which they were applied —the restaurant of the castle-is clearly indicated by what remains. In this part of the castle--as if the walls had not yet lost the high temperature to which they had been raised in the times of baronial revelry, the ivy luxuriates in great redundancy; the lizard sports on the hearth, and the owl and bat roost together in the larder. Cosi trapassa, al' trapassar' d' un giorno, la gloria della-cucina!

Henry the Fifth, according to Stow, kept his “Lent in

the Castle of Kenelworth, and caused an harbor there to be planted in the marish for his pleasure, among the thorns and bushes, where a foxe had harbored, which foxe he killed, being a thing thought to prognosticate that he should expell the craftie deceit of the French king; besides which he also there builded a most pleasaunt place, and caused it to bee named 'le Plaisant Marais,' or the Pleasaunt Marsh.” Here, also, during the same Lent, " whilst the King lay at Kenelworth, messingers came to him from the Dolphin of France, named Charles, with a present of Paris balles with him to play withall; but the Kinge wrote to him that he would shortlie send to him London balles, with the whiche he woulde breake down the roofes of houses." Of this incident Shakspeare has taken advantage in the following scene in his play of Henry the Fifth :

[graphic]

1414.

{to

Ambass.

The prince, our master,
Says that you savour too much of your youth,
And bids you be advised, there's nought in France
That can be with a nimble galliard won-
You cannot revel into dukedoms there;
He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit,
This tun of treasure; and in lieu of this,
Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim
Hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.

K. Hen. What treasure, uncle ?

or KENILWORTU.]

HENRY THE FIFTH AND THE DAUPHIN

229

Exe.

Tennis-balls, my liege.
K. Hen. We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us;
His present and your pains we thank you for.
When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
And tell the pleasant prince, this mock of his
Hath turn'd his balls to gun-stones; and his soul
Shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance
That shall fly with them; for many a thousand widows
Shall this his mock, mock out of their dear husbands;
Mock mothers from their sons; mock castles down.- Act i. sc. 2.

On the accession of Henry the Seventh, the Castle was bestowed upon his son, as Duke of Cornwall, who, to the numerous repairs and embellishments made by his royal predecessors, contributed many others. He removed what was called the Plaisance en Marais'-supposed to have been a small summer-house in the marshy flat beyond the walls—to the interior of the castle-yard, where its remains are still visible near the Swan Tower. Inheriting the munificence and taste of his father—" the onlie phonix of hys tyme for fyne and curious masonrie,

"* and whose“ buildings were most goodlie and after the newest caste, all of pleasure,” † the Duke evinced in his repairs of Kenilworth that love and patronage of the fine arts by which he was afterwards distinguished as Henry the Eighth. The building formerly known as “ Henry the Eighth's Lodgings,” was a capacious structure, situated between the Keep, or Cæsar's Tower, on the right, and Leicester’s Buildings on the left; comprising an extensive suite of apartments, and forming the eastern side of the inner court. Through this building, close to the tower, was the archway leading into the castle-yard. From Henry the Eighth it descended to his son, Edward the Sixth; then to Mary, and lastly to Queen Elizabeth, who bestowed it upon her favourite, Robert Dudley, fifth son of the Duke of Northumberland, with all the royalties thereto belonging. This forms the most memorable incident in the history of Kenilworth.

This Sir Robert Dudley appears on almost every page of the history of Elizabeth's reign. He had been included in the attainder of his family, but was restored in blood by Queen Mary, who appointed him, when a very young man, Master of the Ordnance at the siege of St. Quintin. Elizabeth

Harrison. + Holinshed.

* Among other repairs and alterations, he is said to have caused the “banqueting-house," erected by Henry the Fifth, to be taken down, and part of it to

be rebuilt within the base-court, near the Swan Tower. But the “banqueting-house” here mentioned, appears to have been the same as that already noticed as

" le Plaisant Marais."

[ocr errors]

overwhelmed him with dignities; giving him the Garter while a commoner; creating him Baron of Denbigh and Earl of Leicester; and investing him with the order of St. Michael, which the King of France, by way of compliment, had requested her to confer on two of her subjects. He was likewise Master of the Horse, Steward of the Household, Chancellor of Oxford, Ranger of the Forests south of Trent, and Captain-general of the English forces in the Netherlands; and, as though the great ancient offices of his country were not sufficient for the gratification of his ambitious temper, a patent was preparing at the time of his death for one before unheard of—the Queen's Lieutenant in the government of England and Ireland.

He was distinguished by the elegance of his manners and the profuseness of his expenses, and affected a great degree of piety, and a strict purity of conduct. To these plausible appearances, though unpossessed of either wisdom or virtue, he owed the maintenance of his power to the last, against a strong party at court, and even against the Queen herself, who would gladly have pulled him down when those motives, which doubtless produced her first favours to him, had lost their force. The most material circumstances of his political history never appeared to public view; for he was the darkest character of his time, and delighted in deriving the success of his schemes from the operation of remote causes, and the agency of obscure instruments. It is highly probable that the Queen of Scots, and the Duke of Norfolk, were sacrificed to this crooked sort of policy; a conjecture which tends to wipe out somewhat, though, alas! but little, of the bloody stain which those enormities have left on Elizabeth's memory.-Illust. of Brit. Hist.-Lodge.

He married, first, Anne, daughter and heiress to Sir John Robsart (for a particular account of whose murder, and the suspicions that fell on her husband, see Ashmole's History of Berks): secondly, Douglas, daughter of William Lord Howard of Effingham, and widow of John Lord Sheffield, by whom he had a son, Sir Robert, who is frequently mentioned in the papers of the succeeding reign. But soon after, having conceived a violent passion for Lettice, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, and widow of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, whose late death had been attended by strong indications of foul play, he wedded her, and disowned his former marriage and its unfortunate offspring. Douglas submitted patiently, and lived for some time in the obscurity which suited her disgraced character; till Leicester having attempted to take her off by poison, she married Sir Edward Stafford of Grafton, in hopes of shielding herself against the Earl's future malignity, by affording him in her own conduct a presumptive evidence in favour of his allegations. All the curious circumstances relating to this double bigamy may be found in Dugdale's Warwickshire.-Ibid. Note, vol. i. p.

378.

OF KENILWORTH.]

LEICESTER'S BUILDINGS-GATE-HOUSE.

231

GFR

The repairs, alterations, and additions made to the Castle by this nobleman were on the most splendid scale, and finished at an expenditure of sixty thousand pounds: an immense sum at that time.

The Stables, which formed so important an object in the establishment of every military baron, were in proportion to the number of his retinue and retainers. The lower story of the building, described as Leicester's Stables, is of solid stone mason-work. The lofts, or upper story, consist of brick and timber pane-work, each compartment having a diagonal piece of timber in it, carved in rude imitation of the “Ragged Staff," part of the armorial bearings of the family

His principal works are thus enumerated :—“The first was the great Gate-house on the north side; for, after having filled up a part of the moat on that side, he made the principal entrance from the north, instead of the south, as it had been originally. He erected a large mass of square rooms at the north-east angle of the upper court, called Leicester's Buildings, and built from the ground two handsome towers at the head of the pool. The one called Flood-gate, or Gallery Tower, stood at the end of the tilt-yard, and contained a spacious and noble room, from which the ladies might conveniently see the exercises of tilting and other sports. The other was called Mortimer's Tower, either, as Dugdale thinks, after one that previously stood there, and in which this lord lodged at the round-table festival already mentioned, or because Sir John Mortimer was confined there when a prisoner in the reign of Henry the Sixth. By Leicester, also, the baronial chase, or park, was greatly enlarged. But although his works are of so recent a date, they present, nevertheless, the appearance of great antiquity, owing to the quality of the stone, which, being of a friable nature, is readily acted upon by the weather.”

Leicester's Buildings, which comprise the lofty range from north-east to south-west, present, even in their present state of dilapidation, the skeleton of a majestic structure, and enable the stranger to form a fair estimate of the splendid accommodation provided for the queen and her court.

To correct a popular error, it may be observed that “the great staircase flanked the centre apartment, and that the projecting erection at the south-west angle, usually called the staircase, was a suite of closets or dressing-rooms.” The

[graphic]

date of 1571 is cut in stone below the centre window of the east front. To give a general idea of the extent and splendour of this Castle at the time

of the queen's arrival, when it was in the meridian of its strength and beauty, we select the following particulars from the pen of the 'Great Magician:'-" The outer wall enclosed a space of seven acres, a part of which was occupied by extensive stables, and by a pleasure garden with its trim arbours and parterres, and the rest forming the large base-court, or outer yard, of this noble castle. The lordly structure itself, which rose near the centre of this spacious enclosure, was composed of a huge pile of magnificent castellated buildings, apparently of

different ages, surrounding an inner court; and bearing in the names attached to each portion of the magnificent mass, and in the armorial bearings which were there blazoned, the emblems of mighty chiefs who had long passed away, and whose history-could ambition have bent an ear to it-might have read a lesson to the haughty favourite who had acquired, and was now augmenting, this fair domain. A large and massive keep—[that already described as Cæsar's Tower]—which formed the citadel of the castle, was of uncertain though great antiquity: it bore the name of Cæsar, probably from its resemblance to that in the Tower of London so called. The external wall of this royal castle was, on the south and west sides, adorned and defended by a lake, partly artificial, across which Leicester had constructed a stately bridge, that Elizabeth might enter the castle by a path hitherto untrodden, instead of the usual entrance to the northward, over which he had erected a Gate-house or barbican, which still exists, and is equal in extent, and superior in architecture, to the baronial castle of many a northern chief. Beyond the lake lay an extensive chase, full of red deer, fallow deer, roes, and every species of game, and abounding with lofty trees, from amongst which the extended front and massive towers of the castle were seen to rise in majesty and beauty.” Such was the royal Castle of Kenilworth, when, attended by thirty-one barons, the ladies of her court, and four

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinua »