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defended by the Constable of Henry III. These were some of the tragedies in which Rochester Castle had a part. But the remains of this building show that its occupiers were not wholly engrossed by feuds and by fighting. The splendid columns, the sculptured arches, of its chief apartments proclaim that it was the abode of rude magnificence ; and that high festivals, with luxurious feastings, might be well celebrated within these massive walls. This tower, each side of which at the base is seventy feet long, whilst its height is one hundred and twelve feet, has attached to its east angle a smaller tower (probably for domestics), between seventy and eighty feet in height. A partition wall runs up the middle of the larger tower; and the height was divided into four stories. The joists and flooring-boards have been torn from the walls, but we see the holes where the timbers were inserted, and spacious fireplaces still remain. Every floor was served with water by a well, which was carried up through the central partition. This division of the central tower allowed magnificent dimensions to the rooms, which were forty-six feet in length by twenty-one in breadth. The height of those in the third story is thirtytwo feet; and here are those splendid columns, with their ornamented arches, which show us that the builders of these gloomy fortresses had notions of princely magnificence, and a feeling for the beauty of art, which might have done something towards softening the fierceness of their warrior lives, and have taught them to wear their weeds of peace with dignity and grace. Thomas Warton has described, in the true spirit of romantic poetry, such a scene as might often have lighted up the dark walls of Rochester Castle:
“Stately the feast, and high the cheer;
Fenced around with barbacan and bastion on the land side, and girded by high walls towards the river, the legal and baronial occupiers of Rochester Castle sat in safety, whether dispensing their rude justice to trembling serfs, or quaffing the red wine amidst their knightly retainers. Even Simon de Montfort, a man of wondrous energy, could make little impression upon these strong walls. But the invention of gunpowder changed the course of human affairs. The monk who compounded sulphur, saltpetre, and charcoal, in their just proportions, made Rochester Castle what it is now. Gundulphus the bishop, the builder or the restorer, we know not which, of the great keep at Rochester, was the architect of the most remarkable building of the Tower of London. Stow tells us, “I find in a fair register-book of the acts of the M
Bishops of Rochester, set down by Edmund of Hadenham, that William I, surnamed the Conqueror, builded the Tower of London, to wit, the great white and square tower there, about the year of Christ 1078, appointing Gundulph, then Bishop of Rochester, to be principal surveyor and overseer of that work, who was for that time lodged in the house of Edmere, a burgess of London.” Speaking of this passage of Stow, the editor of “London’ says, “We see the busy Bishop (it was he who built the great keep at Rochester) coming daily from his lodgings at the honest burgess's to erect something stronger and mightier than the fortresses of the Saxons. What he found in ruins, and what he made ruinous, who can tell ? There might have been walls and bulwarks thrown down by the ebbing and flowing of the tide. There might have been, dilapidated or entire, some citadel more ancient than the defences of the people the Normans conquered, belonging to the age when the great lords of the world left every where some marks upon the earth's surface of their pride and their power. That Gundulph did not create this fortress is tolerably clear. What he built, and what he destroyed, must still, to a certain extent, be a matter of conjecture.” And this is precisely the case with the great tower at Rochester. The keep at Rochester and the White Tower at London have a remarkable resemblance in their external appearances. But we have no absolute certainty that either was the work of the skilful Bishop, who, with that practical mastery of science and art which so honourably distinguished many of the ecclesiastics of his age, was set by his sovereign at both places to some great business of construction or repair. We must be content to leave the matter in the keeping of those who can pronounce authoritatively where records and traditions fail, taking honest Lambarde for our guide, who says, “Seeing that by the injury of the ages between the monuments of the first beginning of this place and of innumerable such, other be not come to our hands, I had rather in such cases use honest silence than rash speech.”
The ruined walls of the Castle of HASTINGs, and the remains of the pretty chapel within those walls, are familiar objects to the visitors of the most beautiful of our watering-places. The situation of this Castle is singularly noble. It was here, according to Eadmer, that almost all the bishops and nobles of England were assembled in the year 1090, to pay personal homage to King William II. before his departure for Normandy. Grose has given a pretty accurate description of this castle, which we abridge with slight alteration. What remains of the castle approaches nearest in shape to two sides of an oblique spherical triangle, having the points rounded off. The base, or south side next the sea, completing the triangle, is formed by a perpendicular craggy cliff about four hundred feet in length, upon which are no vestiges of walls or other fortification. The east side is made by a plain wall measuring near three hundred feet, without tower or defence of any kind. The adjoining side, which faces the north-west, is about four hundred feet long. The area included is about an acre and one-fifth. The walls, nowhere entire, are about eight feet thick. The gateway, now demolished, was on the north side, near the northernmost angle. Not far from it, to the west, are the remains of a small tower enclosing a circular flight of stairs; and still farther westward, a sallyport and the ruins of another tower. On the east side, at the distance of about one hundred feet, ran a ditch, one hundred feet in breadth at the top, and sixty feet deep ; but both the ditch, and the interval between it and the wall, seem to have gradually narrowed as they approached the gate, under which they terminated. On the north-west side there was another ditch of the same breadth, commencing at the cliff opposite to the westernmost angle, and bearing away almost due north, leaving a level intermediate space, which, opposite to the sally-port, was one hundred and eighty feet in breadth.
The Castle of CARLISLE was founded by William Rufus. He was the restorer of the city, after it had remained for two centuries in ruins through the Danish ravages. The Red King was a real benefactor to the people at this northern extremity of his kingdom. He first placed here a colony of Flemings, an industrious and skilful race, and then encouraged an immigration of husbandmen from the south, to instruct the poor and ignorant inhabitants in the arts of agriculture. We must not consider that these Norman kings were all tyrants.
The Castle of ALNwick, the noble seat of the Percies, was a place of strength soon after the Norman Conquest. In the reign of Rufus it was besieged by Malcolm the Third, of Scotland, who here lost his life, as did his son Prince Edward. Before the Norman Conquest the castle and barony of Alnwick belonged to Gilbert Tyson, who was slain fighting against the invader, by the side of his Saxon king. The Conqueror gave the granddaughter of Gilbert in marriage to Ivo de Vescy, one of his Norman followers; and the Lords de Vescy enjoyed the fair possessions down to the time of Edward I. The Castle of BAMBorough, in Northumberland, carries us back into a remoter antiquity. It was the palace, according to the monkish historians, of the kings of Northumberland, and built by king Ida, who began his reign about 559. Roger Hovenden, who wrote in 1192, describes it, under the name of Bebba, as “a very strong city.” Rufus blockaded the castle in 1085, when it was in the possession of Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland. The keep of Bamborough is very similar in its appearance to the keeps of the Tower of London, of Rochester, and of Dover. It is built of remarkably small stones: the walls are eleven feet thick on one side, and nine feet on three sides. This castle, situated upon an almost perpendicular rock, close to the sea, which rises about one hundred and fifty feet above low water mark, had originally no interio appliances of luxury or even of comfort. Grose says, “Here were no chimneys The only fire-place in it was a grate in the middle of a large room, supposed to have been the guard-room, where some stones in the middle of the floor are burned red. The floor was all of stone, supported by arches. This room had a window in it, near the top, three feet square, possibly intended to let out the smoke; all the other rooms were lighted only by slits or chinks in the wall, six inches broad, except in the gables of the roof, each of which had a window one foot broad.” One of the most remarkable objects in this ancient castle is a draw-well, which was discovered about seventy years ago, upon cleaning out the sand and rubbish of a vaulted cellar or dungeon. It is a hundred and forty-five feet deep, and is cut through the solid basaltic rock into the sandstone below. When we look at the history of this castle, from the time when it was assaulted by Penda, the Pagan king of the Mercians, its plunder by the Danes, its siege by Rufus, its assault by the Yorkists in 1463, and so onward through seven centuries of civil strife, it is consoling to reflect upon the uses to which this stronghold is now applied. It was bought with the property attached to it by Nathaniel Lord Crewe, bishop of Durham, and bequeathed by him to charitable purposes in 1720. The old fortress has now been completely repaired. Its gloomy rooms, through whose loop-holes the sun could scarcely penetrate, have been converted into schools. Boys are here daily taught, and twenty poor girls are lodged, clothed, and educated till fit for service. The towers, whence the warder once looked out in constant watchfulness against an enemy's approach, are now changed into signal stations, to warn the sailor against that dangerous cluster of rocks called the Fern Islands; and signals are also arranged for announcing when a vessel is in distress to the fishermen of Holy Island. Life-boats are here kept, and shelter is offered for any reasonable period to such as may be shipwrecked on this dreary coast. The estates thus devoted to purposes of charity now yield a magnificent income of more than eight thousand a year. Not only are the poor taught, but the sick are relieved in this hospitable fortress. In the infirmary, to which part of the building is applied, the wants of a thousand persons are annually administered to. Much is still left out of these large funds; and the residue is devoted to the augmentation of small benefices, to the building and enlarging of churches, to the foundation and support of schools, and to exhibitions for young men going to the Universities. When William Rufus besieged this rock of Bamborough, Robert de Mowbray had a steward within the walls, who would have defended it to the death, had not the king brought out the earl his master, who was a prisoner, with a threat that his eyes should be put out unless the castle surrendered. This was a faithful steward. Lord Crewe had an equally faithful steward, after a different fashion, in Dr. Sharpe, Archdeacon of Northumberland, who devised the various means of best applying this noble bequest, and resided on this stormy rock to see that those means were properly administered.
45–THE DEATH OF THE RED KING. THIERRY.
The Saxons, persecuted for transgressions against the laws of the chase, even more vigorously by the Red King, than by his father, had no other means of revenge than by calling him, in derision the keeper of the woods and of the deer, and by spreading sinister reports about these forests, into which no man of the English race was allowed to enter, armed, under pain of death. They said that the devil, under all sorts of horrible forms, had there appeared to the Normans, and had told them of the dreadful fate that he had in reserve for the King and his councillors. This popular superstition was strengthened by the singular chance which rendered hunting in the forests of England, and above all in the New Forest, so fatal to the Conqueror's race. In the year 1081, Richard, the eldest son of William the bastard, had there mortally wounded himself; in the month of May of the year 1100, Richard, the son of Duke Robert, and nephew of the Red King, was killed there by an arrow imprudently drawn, and, by a most curious coincidence, the king perished there also, in the same manner, in the month of July of the same year.
On the morning of the last day of his life, he had a great feast with his friends in Winchester Castle, after which he prepared for the proposed chace. Whilst he was going on his horse and joking with his guests, a workman presented him with six new arrows; he examined them, praised the workmanship, took four for himself, and gave the other two to Walter Tyrrel, saying, “Good marksmen should have good arms.” Walter Tyrrel was a Frenchman, who had great possessions in the county of Poix and in Ponthieu ; he was the king's most familiar friend, and assiduous attendant. At the moment of starting, there entered a monk, from the convent of St. Peter at Gloucester, who brought William despatches from his abbot. This abbot, a Norman by birth, named Serlon, sent word to the king, in some anxiety, that one of his monks, (probably of the English race), had had in his sleep a vision of bad omen; that he had seen Jesus Christ seated on a throne, and at his feet a woman supplicating him in these words; “Saviour of the human race, look down with pity on thy people groaning under the yoke of William.” On hearing this message the king laughed loudly: “Do they take me for an Englishman,” he said, “with their dreams ? Do they fancy that I am one of those fools who abandon their course and their business because an old woman dreams or sneezes Come, Walter de Poix, to horse " .
Henry, the king's brother, William de Breteuil, and several other nobles accompanied him to the forest; the hunters dispersed; but Walter Tyrrel remained beside him, and their dogs hunted together. They had taken up their station, opposite one another, each with his arrow in his cross-bow, and his finger on the trigger, when a large stag, tracked by the beaters, advanced between the King and his friend. William drew, but, his bowstring breaking, the arrow did not fly, and the stag, confused by the noise, stood still, looking around him, The King signed to his companion to shoot, but the latter took no notice, either not seeing the stag, or not understanding the signs: William then impatiently cried aloud: “Shoot, Walter, shoot, in the devil's name !” And at the same instant an arrow, either that of Walter, or some other, struck him in the breast ; he fell without uttering a word, and expired. Walter Tyrrel ran to him; but, finding he had ceased to breathe, he re-mounted his horse, galloped the coast, crossed over to Normandy, and from thence to the French territory.
On the first rumour of the king's death, all who attended the hunt left the forest in haste to see after their interest. His brother Henry made for Winchester and the royal treasure, and the corpse of Willian Rufus remained on the ground, abandoned like that of the Conqueror had been. Some charcoal-burners, who found it, pierced by the arrow, put it on their cart, wrapped in old linen, through which the blood dropped all along the road. Thus were the remains of the second Norman king conveyed to Winchester, where Henry had already arrived, and imperiously demanded the keys of the royal treasure. Whilst the keepers were hesitating, William de Breteuil arrived in breathless haste from the forest, to oppose this demand. “Thou and I,” he said to Henry, “ought loyally to keep the faith that we promised to thy brother, Duke Robert; he has received our oath of homage; and, absent or present, he has the right.” A violent quarrel ensued; Henry drew his sword, and soon, with the help of the assembled crowd, took possession of the royal treasure and the regalia.
46.--THE NEW FOREST. C. KNIGHT. From “Old England.’
The Saxon annalist quaintly writes of the first William, “so much he loved the high deer as if he had been their father; he made laws that whosoever should slay hart or hind, him man should blind.” The depopulation and misery occasioned by the formation of the New Forest have been perhaps somewhat over-stated. A forest undoubtedly existed in this district in the Saxon times; the Conqueror enlarged its circuit and gave it a fresh name. But even William of Jumieges, chaplaim to the Conqueror, admits the devastation, in his notice of the deaths of William Rufus and his brother Richard in this Forest:—“There were many who held that the two sons of William the king perished by the judgment of God in these woods, since for the extension of the forest he had destroyed many towns and churches within its circuit.” It is this circumstantial statement and popular belief which inspired Mr. William Stewart Rose's spirited little poem of the Red King:— “Now fast beside the pathway stood A ruin’d village, shagg'd with wood, A melancholy place; The ruthless Conqueror cast down (wo worth the deed) that little town To lengthen out his chace.
Amongst the fragments of the church,