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TOURNAMENT AT ROCHESTER.
designs against the freedom of his own people, he naturally foresaw the consequences, and appears to have been anxious to conciliate the favour of those foreign knights whom, after the manner of his father, he could make the willing instruments of his despotism whenever the question should be ripe for discussion in the field. This unnational prejudice was particularly observed at the great solemn tournament which was held on the Sth of December, 1251, in the fields to the south-east of Rochester Castle. It was one of the most imposing military spectacles that had ever taken place in the King's presence, and numbered among the combatants the noblest and the bravest of the land; while the lists were graced with all that native beauty and virtue which so fascinated the chivalry of other nations, and inspired the noblest deeds among their own. Attracted to this spectacle, where they were sure of a cordial welcome, a crowd of foreign knights arrived at Rochester on the eve of the fete, and were received with marked distinction by the king. The morning of the spectacle brought a still greater portion into the lists; but the events of the day were not marked by anything in speech or bearing that could reflect disgrace on the knightly courtesy which passed between the combatants. The English knights, determined to maintain their national character, entered the lists against all foreigners without exception. Their challenge was freely accepted by the strangers, and in the course of the day many a spear was shivered, many a knight unborsed; but still the palm was borne away by Englishmen. Mortified with defeat, the foreigners were compelled to retire into the city without any of the usual tokens of victory for which they had travelled so far; while some of them, conscious that their conduct in the lists had violated certain laws of chivalry, took refuge in the Castle, there to avoid popular indignation, and await some favourable moment for escape.*
It was on this occasion that Henry was made fully aware of the spirit which now actuated his young nobles; and the result was another civil war, and another siege of the Castle of Rochester by Simon de Montfort. The Castle at that time was held by Earl Warren for the King; and on Montfort's arrival on the west bank of the Medway, opposite the fortress, he found an army strongly posted, and ready to dispute with him the passage of the bridge. He determined, nevertheless, to try the fortune of war. He condensed his strength, and, having sent Gilbert de Clare to attack the town on the south, so as to draw off part of the enemy's force and divert his attention from the design in progress, he then ordered vessels to be filled with combustibles, and setting fire to them, sent them adrift on the stream, which, running strong at this point, bore them immediately down against the wooden bridge which then crossed the river. The bridge having caught fire, the smoke and flames which issued from the timber arches drove the enemy from their position in the centre of the bridge, where they had charge of a tower, with a drawbridge which cut off all communication with the opposite side. During the obscurity and confusion which this stratagem occasioned, Montfort, seizing the favourable instant, passed the river in boats, and commenced his attack upon the outposts with such resolution and success, that he entered the city in the evening of Good Friday-spoiled the Church, and vigorously attacked the Castle. Warren and his gallant supporters, however, defended the citadel with such courage and determination that, after a siege of seven days and nights, Leicester had only captured some of the outworks. Yet owing to the state of the Castle at that time, it is very probable that had the siege been continued only a short time longer, it must have fallen into his hands. But the great cause in which he had embarked demanding his presence in London, which was threatened with a hostile visitation from the king, he drew off the main body of his army to defend the capital, and thus the Castle of Rochester was spared the disgrace of another surrender. Shortly after this, Montfort, as Earl of Leicester, fought the battle of Lewes, where, as already described in a former part of this work, he gained a victory which richly compensated for the sudden retreat from the Castle of Rochester.
* Hist. of the Castle. Civil and Milit. Transact.-Chronicles.
Subsequently to this period, the Castle of Count Odo—as this fortress is sometimes called-continued to be held by successive constables, men of high military standing in the country. But from the above period downwards it has not been the scene of any remarkable event, and consequently its history is little more than an enumeration of its castellans and the local incidents and irritations with which their caprice or authority diversified the not always “ even tenor" of their sway.*
The chief duty in which they appear to have latterly engagedt was that
• Between the reign of Henry the Third and that + One incident, however, may be mentioned, of Edward the Fourth, who contributed the last repairs namely; in 1382, the fifth year of Richard the to the Castle, Guy de Rochfort, one of the King's Second; while the rebellion of Wat Tyler was at its foreign minions-William de St. Clare, Robert de height, a party of the insurgents had the hardihood to Houghan, Robert de Septuans, Stephanus de Dene-"a lay siege to Rochester Castle, and penetrating into the great enemy to the monks"-William Skarlett, and interior, carried off a prisoner in triumph. (History of William Keriel, had each in turn the custody of this Rochester Castle, 34.) From all the information refortress; but they have left behind them no remark- corded respecting this fortress, it has never apparently able traits of character. Hist. of Rochester.
sustained a siege with that degree of obstinacy which its strength and position would have led one to suppose. * King James I. having in 1610 granted this Pestilence in the first-starvation in the second in- castle, with all the services and emoluments apperstance, compelled the surrender of its garrison ; and on taining thereto, to Sir Anthony Weldon, of Swansthe third occasion it was only saved from a similar fate combe; Walker Weldon, a descendant, sold the timby the unexpected recall of Leicester from under its ber-work belonging to the castle to Gimmet, who, not walls to more important duties in Sussex. But, ill pro- many years ago, applied a part of it in building a visioned, the siege could be protracted neither by the brewhouse on the common.-Antiquities of Rochester thickness of the walls, nor the bravery of the garrison. Castle.
THE CLERGY AND THE CASTELLANS.
of keeping a vigilant eye upon the monastery, which was gradually rising in strength, and improving in territory as the Castle ramparts fell into disuse; and, considering the talents possessed by the bishops and superior clergy who successively presided in the Cathedral and adjoining cloisters of Rochester, the office of castellan was no sinecure. Stephen de Dene, however, attempted to set a bold example to his successors in that office, by taxing the monks for certain premises about their convent; but the latter carried the day, and the question being tried by law, the castellan was not merely nonsuited, but dismissed from his office under the Crown. From that time, therefore, no man appears to have been hardy enough to contest a civil question with the spiritual authorities; and we may conclude that more than one or two of these castellans would have enacted the tyrants of the place, had they not been deterred by the sturdy bedesmen, and the terrors of excommunication. Thus mutual vigilance between the castle and the convent did the public tranquillity some service. But it was the invention of gunpowder, the use of cannon, which gave the finishing blow to all these magnificent ruins upon which we still gaze with feelings of mixed wonder and veneration. Ceasing to be places of security—unless in particular instances—they ceased to be appreciated for any other quality of site or structure. Commanded, as that of Rochester is by all the neighbouring heights, it could offer no resistance to those engines which supplanted the balista, the battering-ram, and the crossbows; and continued thenceforward to be a mere monument of other days, reminding us of those patriotric men and measures by which the national liberties had been achieved, and who led the way to these happier times, when the safeguard of society is the law of the country, and when the humblest cottage is a domestic fortress.
“Unconquer'd patriots! form'd by ancient lore,
The love of ancient freedom to restore;
And seal'd, by death, the lessons which they taught.” At the accession of James the First—whose personal recollections of Falkland and Gowrie House had given him a noted abhorrence of all such strongholds—Rochester Castle was one of the Crown manors, but was then given,' with all its services annexed, to Sir Anthony Weldon,* of Swanscombe. Much land in Kent and other countries is held of the Castle of Rochester by the service of “perfect castle guard.” Every St. Andrew's Day, old style, a banner is hung out at the house of the steward; and if there be any unlucky tenant who cannot bring in his rent at the hour specified, he is liable to have the sum doubled at "every return of the tide” in the Medway, till the whole amount is paid up. Nothing, therefore, can be more unwelcome to the ear of the insolvent tenant, than that peculiarly harsh sound with which the full tide rushes through the centre arch of Rochester Bridge on the thirtieth of November. In vain his friend ejaculates, addressing the steward
“Gladly would thy servant pay,
Spare him but another day!
Poor man! he'd pay it an he had it I" but the immovable steward answers,
"Spare him? No!-Let the law decide
Think ye that I can stop the tide ?'" So true it is that time and tide wait for no man.
When at last, like so many of its contemporaries, this castle was finally deserted as a habitable dwelling, it was stripped of all its carpentry, the hewn stone composing the stairs was removed, and all the materials that could be turned to money were announced for public sale. The old timber, consisting of the oak joists, on which rested the roof and floors of the principal apartments, was bought up and employed in the construction of a brewhouse.* But in attempting to remove the solid materials of the walls, the operations were suddenly arrested by this conviction, that it was much easier to quarry from nature than from such a reservoir of art; for the pickaxes made so little progress in the demolition of these massive walls—the very mortar of which is harder than the stones it cemented together—that the enterprise was soon given up in despair, as the chasm now left in the outer wall fully demonstrates.t The stone
* But all the beer, it is said, ever brewed within could not be too severely reprobated. The solution the new precincts, partook so largely of the virtues thus given to an intricate question was lucid and of oak, that the drinkers underwent the internal pro- satisfactory; but the brewer “never once blessed the cess of tanning, till the beverage became known as the day that he bought the venerable roof-tree and beams of "Baron's Oak-wort." The case was then laid be- Rochester Castle at the hammer."--MS. Old Castles. fore a learned chemist, who declared that “whereas t Some masonis of London bought the stone the oak was without bark, so ought the beer to have stairs, and other squared and wrought stones of the been without bitter." But another, much more windows and arches; and the rest of the materials acute in questions of taste, gave it as his opinion, that were offered to a pavior, but he declined purchasing the old oak having been thrice steeped in the bitter them, finding, apon trial, the cement so hard, that tyranny of King Julin, as he proved from history, had the expense of separating and cleaning the stones imbibed so much of the spirit of these times, that the would amount to more than their value. This essay flavour now complained of was nothing more than the was made on the eastern side, near the postern natural consequence of using old baronial oak for leading to Bully Hill, where a large chasm shows the modern brewhouses; a measure, he averred, that effects of it.-History and Antiquities of Rochester.
employed in by far the greater portion of the Castle is the same as that used in the Tower of London,* built under the same ecclesiastical architect, Bishop Gundulph; and is what passes under the name of Caen-stone, a vast quantity of which must have been imported from the royal quarries in Normandy. In several of the repairs, however, native stone appears to have been used; but it was introduced, comparatively, at a late period. The facing of the walls is all of Normandy free-stone, and the centre is filled up with grout-work; that is, a mass of pebbles, flint, shells, and sand, cemented by mortar poured into the interstices in a liquid state, and forming the whole into a solid, compact, and almost inseparable mass, nore durable than the stone itself, and capable of resisting the action of the weather with scarcely any perceptible loss of substance.
Visit to the Ruins.-Having thus far adverted only very briefly to the several compartments of which this majestic fortress consists, we shall now take them more in detail, and introduce such particulars as may serve to conduct the stranger in his research, and point out those objects in the Castle which chiefly arrest attention, and fix themselves in the memory.t
The Entrance into the Castle area was by a bridge formed on two arches, over a deep dry fosse. On each side of the portal, part of which is remaining, is an angular recess, with arches on the outside that commanded the avenues ; and over the gateway and the recesses was a large tower. The Keep stands at the south-east angle of the area, and, in the opinion of some writers, with a tower in Dover Castle, and the White Tower within the Tower of
* Antiquities of Kent-Rochester. # In this we shall be guided by the authorities of the subject of personal study and research; but Grose, Denne, Kilburne, the Kentish Tourist, and still reserving to ourselves the privilege of making such the various archæological and historical writers who comments or corrections as a personal investigation have successively made the “Castrum Cantuariorum" of the Castle shall appear to warrant.