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parts of the castle were built by John of Gaunt,“ time-honoured Lancaster.” The richly ornamented portal shows the level of this noble room. Its floor rested on stone arches, the vaulted
apartment below being probably used for stores. The hall has been 90 feet long, by 45 broad. The windows are of great height, and exquisite in design. The fire-places, and the oriel window looking into the inner court, cannot fail to attract
admiration. On the south side of the great hall is a winding staircase, terminating in two vaulted apartments. In connection with this noble apartment, it will not be inappropriate to quote Sir Walter Scott's description of it when dignified by the presence of Elizabeth. It will help the visitor to realize to some extent what must have been the grandeur of an apartment, the ruins of which have still such an aspect of magnificence :—"The Queen...... at length found her way to the great hall of the castle, gorgeously hung for her reception with the richest silken tapestry, misty with perfumes, and sounding to strains of soft and delicious music. From the highly carved oaken roof hung a superb chandelier of gilt bronze, formed like a spread eagle, whose outstretched wings supported three male and three female figures, grasping a pair of branches in each hand. The hall was thus illuminated by twenty-four torches of wax.
At the upper end of the splendid apartment was a state canopy, over-shadowing a royal throne, and beside was a door, which opened to a long suite of apartments, decorated with the utmost magnificence for the Queen and her ladies, whenever it should be her pleasure to be private."
Following the line of the building, which here turns to the east, the visitor finds the indistinct traces of
The White Hall, an apartment which seems to have measured about 50 feet by 25. It seems to have been erected at the same time as the Great Hall. Next in order to this apartment, according to Dugdale, were
The Presence Chamber and the Privy Chambers—from the latter of which it is supposed that the chimney-piece already referred to, as exhibited in the gate-house, was removed. These ruins possess no particular interest. Beyond these, and finishing the square, is the stately range of
Leicester's Buildings. As the name implies, this stupendous pile was erected by the Earl of Leicester, and a tablet on the wall shows the date of its construction as 1571. Leicester's Buildings are less strongly and durably built than other parts of the castle. The stone of which it is composed is softer, and less able to resist the weather than that of the more ancient portions of the structure. From this cause it has even a more time-worn aspect than some parts of an earlier date. The floors have all fallen in ; and the visitor can readily mark the different storeys into which the gigantic pile has been divided, the remains of beams, and disfigured fire-places rising above each other in the desolate walls. The ivy which so thickly covers this and the other parts of the castle adds greatly to the picturesqueness of the various views. The ivy in some places has a trunk almost as large as a man's body. The surrounding country may be seen to great advantage from various points of the castle ; in particular from the windows of the Great Hall, and from the top of the Strong Tower.