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SECRET ENTRANCE TO THE CASTLE.
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.f 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 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,
* 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.
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 security | 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
* Discourses.—Milit. Archit.
+ Dallaway's Discourses, etc.
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 Rochester.
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. 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.