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UILT on a lofty perpendicular rock, that rises sheer from the bed of the Wye, the position of the Castle is at once strong and commanding; while, on the land side, the great height and massive strength of its walls and outworks, present the remains of all that ancient art could effect to render it im
pregnable. The grand entrance is defended by two circular towers of unequal proportions, with double gates, portcullises, and a port-hole, through which boiling water or metallic fluids could be discharged on the heads of the besiegers. The massive door, covered with iron bolts and clasps, is a genuine relic of the feudal stronghold. The knocker now in use is an old four-pound shot. This introduces us to the great court, sixty yards long by twenty broad, and presenting the appearance of a tranquil garden. The walls are covered with a luxuriant mantle of ivy, through which the old masonry appears only at intervals; and here the owl finds himself in undisturbed possession, unless when roused by the choir of numberless birds that flit from tree to tree, or nestle among
the leaves. The lover of solitude could hardly find a retreat more suited to his taste. The area, interspersed with trees, and covered with a fine grassy carpet,
is annually converted into a flower and fruit show, for the encouragement of horticulture, under the patronage of the noble owner.
The castle, as one of its historians conjectures, is of the same antiquity as the town itself, to which it served the purposes of a citadel; but the precise epoch, neither Leland, Camden, nor any topographical writer has been able to ascertain. Stow, indeed, attributes the building of the castle to Julius Cæsar, but there is no evidence to support his supposition. Camden, on the contrary, thinks it of no great antiquity; for several affirm, says he, that “it had its rise, not many ages past, from the ancient Henta”-the Venta Silurum of Antoninus. Leland, in his Itinerary, says "The waulles begun at the edge of the great bridge over the Wye, and so came to the castle, which yet standeth fayr and strong, not far from the ruin of the bridge. In the castle ys one tower, as I heard say, by the name of Longine. * The town,” he adds, “hath nowe but one paroche chirche: the cell of a blake monk or two of Bermondsey, near London, was lately there suppressed.”
During the life of Charles-Noel, fourth Duke of Beaufort, the castle was let on a lease of three successive lives to a Mr. Williams, a general merchant or trader, who adapted some of the great apartments to the following purposes, namely—the great kitchen to a sail manufactory; the store-room to a wholesale wine cellar; the grand hall, or banqueting-room, was occupied by a glassblower; and the circular tower by the gate, leading into the second court, was used as a nail manufactory. After the death of Mr. Williams, the roofs fell in, one after another—that of the Keep in 1799, the year in which the lease expired; and thus the stately castle was reduced to its present condition, vast and melancholy ruin.
The only apartments now inhabitable are those of its loyal and intelligent warden and his family, whose civility and general information respecting the castle are very acceptable to its daily visitors.
One of the principal towers was converted, during the above-named lease, into a glass manufactory, the furnace of which has left its scars deeply indented in the solid masonry.
In a small chamber off the banqueting-hall, seventy-five pieces of ancient silver coin were recently discovered, and are now at Badminton Park; but of what value or of what reign we have not yet ascertained.
An ancient door—as ancient, we are told, as the castle itself-opens upon the
* With regard to the tower called “Longine,” the criminal, to repair to Britain, and there to erect a reli
that "it had been erected by one Lon- gious edifice on the river Wye. That edifice was the ginus, a Jew, father of the soldier whose spear pierced Chapel of our Lady in the castle; and although a Jew, the side of Christ. He was condemned either for some the said Longinus appears to have had a fine Gothic crime of his own, or for having given birth to a taste."
CHAPEL-BARON'S HALL-MARTEN'S TOWER.
second court, of very nearly the same dimensions as the first, and now also converted into a garden. Beyond this is an apartment, supposed by some to have been the garrison chapel ; * but its pointed arches and elaborately-carved windows, all evincing an air of stately dignity, leave no doubt of its having been the great baronial hall, where the Clares, the Marshalls, and Herberts, drew around them their chivalrous retainers.
Connected with this, by a winding path, is a third court, now cultivated as an orchard; so that, with trees, flowers, and luxuriant ivy, the whole enclosure presents a mass of vegetation, in which the stern features of warlike art have almost disappeared.
A walk along the ramparts westward from this point, commands some glimpses of beautiful scenery, with the Wye at the base of the rocks expanding in the form of a lake, where vessels are seen riding at anchor, and boats passing to and fro—here gay with pleasure parties, and there laden with foreign or inland produce.
The Keep is another object which the tourist will regard with interest, as
* Of the supposed chapel, Mr. Williams says—"This ever, several traces of plain Saxon arches filled up in is not in the usual style of such a building: the win- the wall [arches of construction), which indicate a dows, arches, and other decorated parts were extremely higher antiquity than the general decorations of the rich, and in the finest Gothic taste. There are, how- castle."
the twenty years' prison of Henry Marten, whose vote, with those of his “fellowregicides,” at the trial of Charles the First, consigned that unfortunate monarch to the block. To his epitaph written upon himself we have already alluded; and the reader is no stranger, probably, to Southey's lines on the room where he was confined, which, with a sarcastic parody written by Canning, will be found in these pages.
Henry Marten, who attained such unenviable notoriety, was the son of Sir Ilenry Marten, a judge of the Admiralty, and M.P. for Berkshire. He was an able and active partisan of Oliver Cromwell, one of the “Executive Council;" and in the old prints representing the trial of the martyr-king; Marten occupies the chair on Cromwell's left hand, immediately under the arms of the Commonwealth.* At the Restoration, he was brought to trial, and sentenced to death; but his sentence was afterwards commuted to imprisonment for life. In the keep of this castle, since called “ Marten's Tower,” he spent twenty years; but much was done to soften the rigour of his sentence. “His wife was permitted to share his imprisonment; he was attended by his own domestic servants, who were accommodated in the same tower; and he had permission to visit, and receive visits from his friends in the town and neighbourhood. He died in 1680, at the mature age of seventy-eight, neither disturbed by the qualms of conscience, nor enfeebled by the rigour of confinement; and left behind him the character of a liberal and indulgent master.” At a comparatively recent period, the principal chamber of the Keep was frequently used by the inhabitants of Chepstow as a ball-room; and there is now residing in the town a lady, who remembers having been present at more than one of these festive reunions.
For the following notice of this "stern republican," —somewhat different from the preceding-we are indebted to Heath's description of Chepstow :
IIenry Marten, t commonly called Harry Marten, was born in the city of Oxford, in the parish of St. John the Baptist, in a house opposite to Merton College Church, then lately built by Henry Sherburne, gent., and possessed, at the time of Ilarry's birth, by Sir Henry, his father. After he had been in
By him the vote was proposed, that the King's brightest ornaments of the age in which he lived. He statues at the Royal Exchange and other places should was principal Judge of the Admiralty, twice Dean of be taken down, and the following inscription substi- the Arches, a Knight, and, in 1684, Judge of the tuted:-“Exit Tyrannus, Regum ultimus, Anno Liber. Prerogative Court, in all of which offices he was altatis Angliæ Restitutæ primo, A.D. 1648.” When it lowed to be one of the most eminent civilians that ever was proposed, “ that the House of Peers in parliament filled them. He was in high favour with his sovewas useless and dangerous, and ought to be abolished,” reign, King James, who jocularly used to remark on Marten proposed that the word dangerous should be Sir Henry, " that he was judge over the dead and over onvitted, and that useless alone should be retained, and the living." He died the 26th of September, 1641, that it should be declared that the Lords were useless, aged 80, and was buried at his seat at Longworth, but not dangerous.- Parl. Ilist.
near Abingdon, in Berkshire. -Ileath. | Sir Henry Marten, his father, was one of the