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" Gaze on yon Arch, and mark the while,
Of all that feudal glory shared,
ONE of the most graphic pictures of “Old Kenilworth” which we have
met with, occurs in the following passage :-“Where wilde brookes meeting together make a broad poole among the parkes, and so soone as they are kept in with bankes, runne in a chanell, is seated Kenelworth—in times past commonly called Kenelworde, but corruptly Killingworth—and of it taketh name a most ample, beautifull, and strong Castle, encompassed all about with parkes, which neither Kenulph, nor Kenelm, ne yet Kineglise built (as some doe dreame) but Geffrey Clinton, chamberlaine unto Kinge Henrie the First and his sonne with him, as may be shewed by good evidences; when he had founded there before a church for chanons regular. But Henrie, his nephew
in the second degree, having no issue, sold it unto King Henrie the Third, who gave it in franke marriage to Simon Montfort, Earl of Leicester, together with his sister Aleonor. And soone after, when enmity was kindled between the Kinge and Earl Simon, and hee slaine in the bloody wars which he had raised vpon faire pretexts against his Soveraigne, it endured six months' siege, and in the end was surrendered vp to the Kinge aforesaid, who annexed this castle as an inheritance to Edmund his sonne, Earl of Lancaster; at which time there went out and was proclaimed from hence an edict, which our lawyers use to call Dictum de Kenilworth,' whereby it was enacted that
whosoever had tooke arms against the King, should pay every one of them five yeeres rent of their lands. A severe yet a good and wholesome course, without effusion of blood, against rebellious subiects, who, compassing the destruction of the state, put all their hopes upon nothing else but dissentions. But this Castle, through the bountifull munificence of Queene Elizabeth, was given and granted to Robert Dudleie, Earle of Leicester, who to repaire
and adourn it spared for no cost; insomuch, as if a man consider either the gallant building or the large parkes, it would seem as it were to be ranged in a third place amongst the Castles in England.”
Such is the concise description and historical epitome of this celebrated Castle, as recorded by the author of the “Britannia.” But many changes have occurred since then; its walls have been dismantled, its apartments thrown open to the weather, siege and storm have alternately expended their fury on
FOUNDATION AND DESCENT OF THE CASTLE.
its iron strength, and mutilated what they could not overthrow; for it is too firmly seated, too massive in its structure and materials, to feel the wasting hand of time, and happily too well cemented to be turned into a profitable quarry. The northern Ariosto, however, has done more to preserve it from further dilapidation than its own lords—he has invested its courts and halls with a charm which nothing can dissolve; and we have good reason to believe that the scenes which Scott has now rendered classic, the taste and patriotism of Clarendon will transmit unimpaired to posterity.
“Dim peering through the vale of night,
Yon murky forms bring back a crowd
Previous to the Conquest, observes the best authority on this subject, Kenilworth was a member of the neighbouring parish of Stoneleigh, being an ancient demesne of the Crown, and had within the precincts thereof a Castle, situate upon the banks of Avon, in the woods opposite to Stoneleigh Abbey, which castle stood upon a place called Holm Hill, but was demolished in those turbulent “ times of warre betweene King Edward and Canutus the Dane.” At the time of the Norman Survey, Kenilworth was divided into two parts, one of which was styled Optone, and was held of the king by Albertus Clericus in "pure almes.” The other portion was possessed by Richard the Forester. In the reign of Henry the First, the manor was bestowed by the king upon Geoffrey de Clinton, who founded here a potent castle and a monastery. But although a fortified residence and a religious foundation were usually, in the early ages, the harbingers of wealth and consequence to the neighbouring town, Kenilworth does not appear to have greatly profited by its position, either in commerce or population. Henry the Third bestowed upon it the privileges of a weekly market on the Tuesday, and an annual fair to last three days; but this, it would appear, had fallen into disuse, for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, obtained from Queen Elizabeth the grant of a weekly market to be held on Wednesday, and a yearly fair on Midsummerday. Prosperity, however, never seems to have taken a hearty liking to the spot, and, notwithstanding the advantages of royal patronage and local position, became at length estranged from it, and fixed her seat in another though less favoured part of the county. The Castle, however, has in a great measure compensated for the lack of commerce; and by the great number of visitors who now resort to it at all seasons, from all parts of the kingdom, the
inhabitants are partly indemnified for other privations. The romance of Kenilworth, it is probable, has brought, within the last fifteen years, more pilgrims to this town and neighbourhood-pilgrims of the highest rank—than ever resorted to its ancient shrine of the Virgin; more knights and dames than ever figured in its tilts and tournaments.
Of this lordly palace, where princes feasted and heroes fought-now in the bloody earnest of storm and siege, and now in the games of chivalry, and where beauty dealt the prize which valour won—" all,” says Sir Walter Scott, “all is desolate. The bed of the lake is but a rushy swamp, and the massive ruins of the Castle only show what their splendour once was; and impress on the musing visitor the transitory value of human possessions, and the happiness of those who enjoy a humble lot in virtuous contentment.” But from the picture of Kenilworth as it is, we return to those passages of ancient history which point out to us what it was.
The founder of the Castle, Geoffroi de Clinton, was treasurer and chamberlain to King Henry the First, but “to whom related” or from whom descended is a question on which genealogists have come to no satisfactory conclusion. By one he is said to have been a grandson of William de Tankerville, who held a distinguished office under the Duke of Normandy; by another he is mentioned as a soldier of fortune, who had no patrimony but his sword, with which he ultimately cut his way to the highest official dignities. But whatever his descent may have been, he was, beyond doubt, a person in whom the grand recommendations of valour and wisdom were eminently united. In addition to the offices of trust above-mentioned, he was appointed by the king to the chief-justiceship of England; and thus invested with all that honourable distinction to which a subject could aspire, he readily obtained those territorial possessions which gave him a high standing among the barons of his day, and have transmitted his name to the present time in a spot of ground near the Castle, with the distinctive appellation of Clinton's Green.' The original keep, or donjon, appears to have been the work of this enterprising Norman, and is still the most imposing feature in the Castle. It is distinguished from the Norman donjon towers of that period by having had no prisons underground-such at least is the conclusion; for in several experiments which have been expressly made for ascertaining the truth of this exception, the ground on which it stands has been found solid, and with no appearance of either arches or excavations, although the examination has been carried to a depth of fifteen feet and upwards. It is probable, however, that the dungeons were either in the angular towers above, or in a part near the foundation, which remains to be discovered; for it is not at all probable that an appendage so indispensable to a feudal residence would have