Eleven Hundred Castles Built in Sixteen Years

Figures:

Figure 415
Interior of the Temple Church.
Figure 416
416.—Warwick Castle, Guy’s Tower
Figure 418
418.—Ancient Statue of Guy at Guys Cliff

It is a rare consolation for the lover of his country’s monuments, to turn from castles made into prisons, and abbeys into stables, to such a glorious relic of ‘Old England’ as Warwick Castle. Who can forget the first sight of that beautiful pile, little touched by time, not vulgarized by ignorance? (Fig. 417). As he enters the portal through which Gaveston was led to execution, and the king-maker marched in and out to uphold a Yorkist or a Lancastrian pretender to the crown, he feels that he is treading upon ground almost hallowed by its associations (Fig. 415). Cæsar’s Tower—that is but a name! Guy’s Tower—that belongs to poetry, and is therefore a reality! (Fig. 416). Old Dugdale treated Guy and his legend as a true thing: “Of his particular adventures, lest what I say should be suspected for fabulous, I will only instance that combat betwixt him and the Danish champion, Colebrand, whom some (to magnify our noble Guy the more) report to have been a giant. The story whereof, however it may be thought fictitious by some, forasmuch as there be those that make a question whether there was ever really such a man, or, if so, whether all be not a dream which is reported of him, in regard that the monks have sounded out his praises so hyperbolically; yet those that are more considerate will neither doubt the one nor the other, inasmuch as it hath been so usual with our ancient historians, for the encouragement of after-ages unto bold attempts, to set forth the exploits of worthy men with the highest encomiums imaginable: and therefore, should we for that cause be so conceited as to explode it, all history of those times might as well be vilified.” We shall have to return to the fair castle of Warwick: so we leave it, at present, under the influence of Guy and his legends (Fig. 418).

Figures:

Figure 423
423.—Clifford’s Tower, and Entrance to York Castle.
Figure 425
425.—Interor of Newark Castle

In glancing generally over the subject of the present state of the ancient Castles of England, a striking commentary is afforded to us upon the progress that England has made since they studded the land over with their stately but terrible walls, and gateways, and towers. Look, for instance (to refer only to structures not already mentioned), at Farnham Castle, in Surrey (Fig. 426), built by Henry of Blois, brother of King Stephen, and forming, no doubt, one of the eleven hundred castles said to have been erected in the reign of that monarch. Eleven hundred castles built in sixteen years! What a scene of violence and strife does not the bare mention of such a fact open to the imagination! It is to that scene Farnham Castle essentially belongs; and if we now gaze upon it, as it is, most strange in all respects appears the contrast between the present and the past associations. The lofty keep stands in a garden, forming a picturesque and noble ornamental ruin in the palatial grounds of the Bishops of Winchester, but that is its only value to the present possessors; it looks down upon the principal street of the place, which probably first grew up into importance under its protection, but it is only now to behold a population exhibiting in a thousand ways their enjoyment of the services of an infinitely more powerful defender—the Law. In numerous other cases our castles have become direct adjuncts to the very power that has thus superseded them. York, Lancaster, and Lincoln Castles are now mere gaols for the confinement, or courts for the trial of prisoners; and that amazing piece of workmanship which attests to this day the strength of the first of these structures, Clifford’s Tower (Fig. 423), attributed to the Conqueror, whilst the mount on which it stands is supposed to have been raised by Roman hands, now frowns in unregarded magnificence over the throng of judges, barristers, and witnesses, of debtors and criminals, who pass to and fro through the modern gateway at its feet. Then, again, Newark Castle (Fig. 425), erected by Bishop Alexander, the well-known castle-building prelate, who seems indeed to have thought he had a mission that way, and who certainly exhibited no lack of zeal in fulfilling it: Newark (i. e. New-Work, hence the name of the town), a rare example for the time of any departure from the principle of considering a castle merely as a stronghold, rather than as a place of residence also; Newark, with its high historical and military reputation, twice unsuccessfully besieged by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, and only delivered up, not taken, at last in consequence of Charles’s own directions when he had given himself up to the Scots,—under what circumstances do we behold the ruins of this structure? Why, as if in mockery of that reputation, wooden bowls now roll noiselessly but harmlessly about the close-shaven green, in one part of the castle area, where cannon-balls once came thick and fast, dealing destruction and death on all sides; whilst in another, peaceful men and women now congregate in the “commodious market.” Pontefract or Pomfret Castle (Fig. 429), of still higher historical interest, exhibits a change and a moral no less remarkable. The rocky foundation upon which the castle was raised, at an enormous expenditure of time, money, and labour, is now a quarry of filtering-stones, which are, we are told, in great request all over the kingdom; the place, for the maintenance of which the neighbourhood has been so often of yore laid under contribution, now in some measure repays those old exactions, from the liquorice-grounds and market-gardens that occupy its site. The liquorice-grounds, we may observe by the way, form quite a distinctive feature of the country immediately surrounding Pontefract, that quietest, and cleanest, and widest-streeted of provincial towns, which, within some fourteen miles of the manufacturing Babel, Leeds, is so little like Leeds, that one might fire a cannon-ball down its main street at noon-day with but very small danger of mischief. We must dwell a little on the history of Pomfret Castle. Royal favour is generally attended with substantial tokens of its existence; but of all English sovereigns who have had at once the will and the power to distinguish their friends in this way, commend us to the Conqueror. The builder of Pomfret Castle was Ilbert de Lacy, who received from William one hundred and fifty manors in the west of Yorkshire, ten in Nottinghamshire, and four in Lincolnshire. Pontefract was among the first, though not it seems previously known by that name, which is said to have been conferred on it by He Lacy from its resemblance to a place in Normandy, where he was born: a pleasant touch of sentiment in connexion with one of those formidable mailed barons who struck down at once England’s king and liberties on the fatal field of Hastings. The area enclosed by the castle-walls was about seven acres, the walls being defended by the same number of towers. It had of course its deep moat, barbacan, and drawbridge, and its great gateways of entrance. Leland says of the main structure, “Of the Castle of Pontefract, of some called Snorre Castle, it con-taineth eight round towers, of the which the dungeon cast into six roundelles, three big and three small, is very fair.” We should be sorry to wish that the excellent antiquarian had had an opportunity of a closer acquaintance with the “fair” dungeon, but assuredly if he had, he would have chosen a somewhat different epithet, in spite of its external beauty. The dungeons of Pontefract Castle have excited no less fearful interest from their intrinsic character, than from the prisoners who have wept or raved in them to the senseless Malls. In the early part of the fourteenth century, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, uncle of Edward II., married Alice, daughter of Henry de Lacy, and thus became the lord of Pontefract. Among the barons then opposed to the weak and disgraceful government of Edward II. the Earl of Lancaster was conspicuous; but in one of those reverses of fortune which his party experienced, he, with many other nobles and knights, fell into the hands of the royalists, was brought by them to his own Castle of Pontefract, then in their possession, and there, without even a hearing, beheaded, whilst the other barons were hung. As the owner of the castle and the broad lands sweeping so far away on all sides around it lay helpless in his own dungeons, in the brief interval that elapsed between his capture and horrible death, what thoughts may not, we might almost say must not, have crowded into the brain of the unhappy nobleman! Taught, perhaps, when too late, the wisdom of humanity and love, we may imagine him giving utterance to some such thoughts as those expressed by the poet:

Figure spread at pages 104 and 105:

Figure 415
Interior of the Temple Church.
Figure 416
416.—Warwick Castle, Guy’s Tower
Figure 418
418.—Ancient Statue of Guy at Guys Cliff
Figure 419
419.—Warkworth Castle
Figure 420
420.—Warkworth Castle

And this place our forefathers made for man! This is the process of our love and wisdom To each poor brother who offends against, us—Most, innocent, perhaps—and what if guilty? Is this the only cure?

Or as he reflected with unutterable anguish on the beauty of the scene without—that scene on which he had so often gazed with heedless eyes, but that, now that he was to behold it but once more, seemed to his imagination bathed in loveliness and romance—could he fail to arrive in some degree at the poet’s conclusion?

With other ministrations, thou, O Nature, Healest thy wandering and distempered child; Thou pourest on him thy soft influences, Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets, Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters, Till he relent, and can no more endure To be a jarring and a dissonant thing Amid this general dance and minstrelsy; But, bursting into tears, wins back his way, His angry spirit healed and harmonized By the benignant touch of love and beauty.

Alas, that the truths here so exquisitely conveyed should be still unregarded! The dungeons of a former day have changed their name, and improved in their superficial characteristics, it is true; but only to fit them for still more extensive application. When “such pure and natural outlets” of a man’s nature are

“shrivelled up By ignorance and parching poverty,

and

His energies roll back upon his heart,

And stagnate and corrupt, till, changed to poison,

They break out on him, like a loathsome plague-spot,

we still

call in our pampered mountebanks; And theirs is their best cure! Uncomforted And friendless solitude, groaning and tears.”

But the dungeons of Pontefract Castle whisper of a still more fearful story than the Earl of Lancaster’s. As we walk about among the ruins, and investigate the process of decay, since Gough, the editor of Camden, describes in the last century the remains of the keep as consisting only of the “lower story, with horrible dungeons and winding staircases;” we look with especial interest for the “narrow damp chamber formed in the thickness of the wall, with two small windows next the court,” where tradition says the fate of Richard II. was consummated, either by direct violence, as the popular story has it, through the agency of Sir Piers Exton and his band of assassins, some of whom perished in the struggle, or by starvation, as other writers have related the matter. In the short reign of the third Richard, another batch of eminent men underwent the sharp agony of the axe at Pontefract Castle, namely, Woodville, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, and Hawse. The edifice was finally dismantled and the materials sold, after the civil war, during which it had resisted the parliamentary forces with extraordinary bravery and determination, even subsequent to the death of Charles I.

Figures:

Figure 422
422.—Goodrich Castle
Figure 424
424.—Peverel Castle

This said civil war was to our old castles generally, what the Reformation was to our grand and beautiful ecclesiastical remains; with this difference, that the injuries in the one case were necessarily of a much severer character than in the other. Hence we find, in looking back to the history of a large portion of our castles, that they were comparatively in good preservation up to the sixteenth century, and in ruin beyond that time. Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire (Fig. 422), was one of these, the owners of which could boast that the structure dated from a period anterior to the Conquest; and during the civil war it was defended with a courage worthy of its reputation. It is recorded of Goodrich Castle that it held out longer than any other English fortress for the king, with the single exception of Pendennis Castle, in Cornwall. If one could grieve at a matter that necessarily involves so many points for congratulation, we might lament to see how few and comparatively unimportant are the remains of such a castle, interesting to us for its age, and still more by the memory of one at least of its early inhabitants, the brave Talbot of history, and of Shakspere’s Henry the Sixth (First Part). It appears from the records of Goodrich Castle, that when a great man in the middle ages erected a fortress, it was not always the expensive affair we are accustomed to consider it. Goodrich, in the fourteenth century, came into the possession of Elizabeth, daughter of John Lord Comyn, of Badenagh, in Scotland. The notorious Hugh le Despencer and his son, it appears, had taken a particular fancy for portions of this lady’s property, and the way they set about the accomplishment of their desires speaks volumes as to the state of society at the period. The lady Elizabeth was suddenly seized, carried into another part of the country, confined for upwards of a year, and finally compelled, from “fear of death,” as it is stated in a manuscript cited by Dugdale in his ‘Baronage,’ to cede to the son her castle of Goodrich, and to the father her manor of Painswick. Certainly, as with these feudal oppressors even-handed justice did often commend the poisoned chalice to their own lips, there is something more than accident in such remarkable conjunctions as the fate of the Earl of Lancaster before mentioned and the character of the dungeons in his castle—in the wrongs done to this lady and the character of the dungeons still traceable among the ruins of her castle. The keep, of Saxon, or very early Norman architecture, originally consisted of three small rooms, one above another; at the bottom was a dungeon, which had not even a single loop-hole for light or air, but was connected by a narrow passage with another and smaller dungeon, situated beneath the platform of the entrance steps of the exterior, which had a very small opening for the admission of air; and thus alone was life preserved even for a time in the inner dungeon. It is a relief to escape from such dreadful recollections of our old castles, to the gay and brilliant scenes that occasionally made them the centres of enjoyment to assembled thousands, when, for instance, the tournament brought from all parts of the country the young and old, rich and poor, the knightly and the would-be knightly, to see lances broken or to break them, to conquer or to be conquered. There were occasions, too, when the exciting and brilliant sports of the tournament were enhanced by peculiar circumstances, calculated in the highest degree to attract, not only the chivalry of Old England, but of Europe, into the lists. One of the most grandly situated of castles is that of Peveril of the Peak (Fig. 424), built by a natural son of the Conqueror, whose name it bears. This was some centuries afterwards in the possession of William Peveril, a valiant knight, who had two daughters, one of whom, Mellet, having privily resolved to marry none but a knight who should distinguish himself for his warlike prowess, her father, sympathizing with her feelings, determined to invite the noble youth of England generally to compete for such a prize in a grand tournament. The castle of Whittington, in the county of Salop, was also to reward the victor by way of a fitting dowry for the bride. We may judge of the hosts who would assemble at such an invitation; and even royal blood was among them, in the person of the Scottish King’s son. Worthy of the day, no doubt, were the feats performed. Among the combatants, one knight with a silver shield and a peacock for his crest speedily distinguished himself. The best and bravest in vain endeavoured to arrest his successful career. The Scottish prince was overthrown; so was a baron of Burgoyne. Their conqueror was adjudged the prize. Guarine de Meez, a branch of the house of Lorraine, and an ancestor of the lord Fitzwarren, thus wooed and won an English bride, at Peveril’s Place in the Peak.

There are two castles that belong to the present period, inasmuch as that their erection chiefly took place in it; we allude to Caris-brook, in the Isle of Wight, and Kenilworth: but as in both cases the most essential points of their subsequent history refer to later periods, we shall confine our present notices to the erection. Carisbrook (Fig. 427) stands at a short distance from the town of Newport, and near the central point of the isle, of which, from the days of the Saxons and of the isle’s independent sovereignty down to a comparatively recent period, it has been the chief defence. The keep, and the great artificial mound on which it stands, are supposed to have been erected so early as the sixth century. Five centuries later, the Norman possessor, Fitz-Osborne, desiring to enlarge his fortress, built additional works, covering together a square space of about an acre and a half, with rounded angles, the whole surrounded by a fosse or ditch. All lands in the isle were then held of the castle, or in other words, of the honour of Carisbrook; and on the condition of serving and defending it at all times from enemies. Of this early building, which still formed only the nucleus of the very extensive and magnificent fortress which ultimately was raised on the spot, the chief remains are the western side of the castle, forming an almost regular parallelogram, with rounded corners; and the keep, on the north, ascended by a flight of seventy-two steps. The lowest story only is preserved. In the centre of the keep there is a well 300 feet deep, telling, by its very formation under such difficult circumstances, the importance of its existence. Kenilworth (Fig. 430) seems to have derived its name and its earliest castle from the fortress mentioned by Dugdale as standing, even in the Saxon times, upon a place called Horn, or Holme Hill, and which, it is supposed, was built by one of the Saxon kings of Mercia, named Kenulph, and his son Kenelm. Worth, in the Saxon, means mansion or dwelling-place; consequently the formation of the word Kenilworth is tolerably clear. But other writers consider this date as much too modern: to carry back the history of Kenilworth only to a Saxon king is not sufficient; we must go to the Britons at once, and their great sovereign of romance, and perhaps reality—Arthur,

That here, with royal court, abode did make.

Whatever the beginning of this castle, its end seems certain enough: Dugdale says it was demolished in the wars between King Edmund and Canute the Dane. About a century later, or in the reign of Henry the First, the present castle was commenced by Geoffrey de Clinton, who is stated “to have been of very mean parentage, and merely raised from the dust by the favour of the said King Henry, from whose hands he received large possessions and no small honour, being made both Lord Chamberlain and Treasurer to the said King, and afterwards Justice of England: which great advancements do argue that he was a man of extraordinary parts. It seems he took much delight in this place, in respect of the spacious woods and that large and pleasant lake (through which divers petty streams do pass) lying amongst them; for it was he that first built that great and strong castle here, which was the glory of all these parts, and for many respects may be ranked in a third place at the least with the most stately castles in England.” Dugdale (‘Baronage’) here refers no doubt to the strength, size, and architectural character of the castle; but if its historical importance be considered, or above all, if we weigh the associations which a single writer of our own age has bound up with its decaying walls, we must assign to it a rank that knows no superior: we must consider the “glory of these parts” might now without exaggeration be more accurately described as the glory of the civilized world.

With a group of border castles—Norham, Warkworth, and Newcastle—we shall conclude for the present our notice of such structures. No mention is made in Domesday Book of the county of Northumberland, in which these three castles are situated, for the reason probably that the Conqueror could not even pretend to have taken possession of it. And there was then little temptation to induce him to achieve its conquest. Nothing can be conceived more truly anarchic than the state of the country in and around Northumberland at the time. The chief employment of the inhabitants was plundering the Scots on the other side of the Tweed—their chief ambition was to avoid being plundered in return. But the Scots seem generally to have had the best of it; who, not content with taking goods, began to take the owners also, and make domestic slaves of them. It is said that about or soon after the period of the Conquest, there was scarcely a single house in Scotland that was without one or more of these English unfortunates. To check such terrible inroads, castles now began to spring up in every part; to these the inhabitants generally of a district flocked on any alarm of danger; and for centuries such a state of things continued unchanged. A highly interesting picture of domestic border life, and which is at the same time unquestionably trustworthy, has been preserved in the writings of Pope Pius II., who, before his elevation to the pontificate, visited various countries in an official capacity—amongst the rest-Scotland, to which he was sent as private legate about the middle of the fifteenth century. “The Border Land” naturally attracted his curiosity, and he determined to risk the danger of a personal visit. He thus describes the result. His family name, it may be mentioned, was Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini.

“There is a river (the Tweed) which, spreading itself from a high mountain, parts the two kingdoms. Æneas having crossed this in a boat, and arriving about sunset at a large village, went to the house of a peasant, and there supped with the priest of the place and his host. The table was plentifully spread with large quantities of pulse, poultry, and geese, but neither wine nor bread was to be found there; and all the people of the town, both men and women, flocked about him as to some new sight; and as we gaze at negroes or Indians, so did they stare at Æneas, asking the priest where he came from, what he came about, and whether he was a Christian. Æneas, understanding the difficulties he must expect on this journey, had taken care to provide himself at a certain monastery with some loaves, and a measure of red wine, at sight of which they were seized with greater astonishment, having never seen wine or white bread. The supper lasting till the second hour of the night, the priest and host, with all the men and children, made the best of their way off, and left Æneas. They said they were going to a tower a great way off, for fear of the Scots, who when the tide was out would come over the river and plunder; nor could they, with all his entreaties, by any means be prevailed on to take Æneas with them nor any of the women, though many of them were young and handsome; for they think them in no danger from an enemy, not considering violence offered to women as any harm. Æneas therefore remained alone with them, with two servants and a guide, and a hundred women, who made a circle round the fire, and sat the rest of the night without sleeping, dressing hemp and chatting with the interpreter. Night was now far advanced when a great noise was heard by the barking of the dogs, and screaming of the geese: all the women made the best of their way off, the guide getting away with the rest, and there was as much confusion as if the enemy was at hand. Æneas thought it more prudent to wait the event in his bed-room (which happened to be a stable), apprehending if he went out he might mistake his way, and be robbed by the first he met. And soon after the women came back with the interpreter, and reported there was no danger; for it was a party of friends, and not of enemies, that were come.” (Camden’s translation.) Just such a castle of defence for a population, rather than a residence for their lord, we may suppose Norham (Fig. 428) to have been, built by the Bishops of Durham, about the beginning of the twelfth century; the gloomy ruins which still overhang the Tweed exhibiting no traces of exterior ornament, its walls reduced to a mere shell, its outworks demolished, and a part of the very hill on which it was raised washed away by the river. The keep alone exists in a state to remind us of the original strength and importance of the fortress, when it was so frequently the scene of contest between the people of the two countries. On the accession of Stephen we find David of Scotland besieging and capturing Norham, for Maud, Stephen’s rival; a little later the process was repeated by and for the same parties; and then Norham is said to have been demolished. In the reign of John, however, we find it in existence, stronger than ever, and successfully resisting the utmost efforts of the Scots, then in alliance with the revolted English Barons. The next time the defenders were less brave, or less fortunate; in the reign of Edward III. the Scots once more obtained possession of Norham. But we need not follow its history further; so by way of contrast to the scene as represented in our engraving, let us transcribe a glimpse of Norham Castle under more favourable circumstances:—

“Day set on Norham’s castled steep, And Tweed’s fair river, broad and deep,

And Cheviot’s mountains lone; The battled towers, the dragon keep, The loop-hole grates, where captives weep, The flanking walls, that round it sweep,

In yellow lustre shone.

“The warriors on the turrets high, Moving athwart the evening sky, Seem’d forms of giant height; Their armour, as it caught, the rays, Flash’d back again the western blaze In lines of dazzling light.”

Marmion.

Figures:

Figure 419
419.—Warkworth Castle
Figure 420
420.—Warkworth Castle

The ruins of Warkworth (Figs. 419, 420), in their generally elegant and picturesque outline, present a strong contrast to those of Norham. Residence for the lord as well as protection for his vassals has evidently been studied here. The situation in itself is wonderfully fine. It stands on an eminence above the river Coquet, a little beyond the southern extremity of the town of Warkworth, and commands on all sides views of the greatest beauty and variety. In one direction you have the sea outspread before you, with the Fern Islands scattered over its surface; whilst along the shore-line the eye passes to the Castles of Dunstan-borough and Bamborough at the extremity; in another you dwell with pleasure on the richly cultivated valley that extends up to Alnwick Castle; then again, in a third, there are the beautiful banks of the Coquet river, dear to salmon fishers and lovers of native precious stones, many of which are found among its sands; and lastly, in a fourth, you gaze upon an extensive plain inclining seawards, and which is as remarkable for the fertility of its soil, and the amount of its agricultural products, as for the air of peaceful happiness that overspreads the whole—pasture, arable and woodlands, villages, hamlets and churches. Such was the site, and the structure was scarcely less magnificent. The outer walls, which are in many parts entire, enclosed a space of about five acres, were about thirty-five feet high, and encircled by a moat. The gateway, of which little is preserved, was a noble building, with numerous apartments for the officers of the castle; and the keep, which was of great size, and octagonal, had its eight apartments with stone vaulted roofs on the ground floor, for the protection, it is said, of cattle brought in from the neighbourhood during any incursion of the Scots; also its great Baronial Hall, nearly forty feet long by twenty-four wide, and twenty high; all of which, though deprived of their roofs, floors, and windows, remain, through the excellence of the masonry, in admirable preservation. Cupidity alone, indeed, has been here at work to destroy. In Leland’s time the castle was “well maintained,” but in the early part of the seventeenth century the buildings of the outer court with some others were stripped of their lead and otherwise dismantled; and in 1672 the noble keep itself was unroofed. Warkworth has for several centuries been in possession of the Percy family. One can hardly mention these names together without also noticing the neighbouring hermitage, which Bishop Percy has made memorable by his poem of the ‘Hermit of Warkworth.’ This is situated in the perpendicular rocks which form the north bank of the Coquet, about a mile above the town, and consists of “two apartments hewn out of the rock, with a lower and outward apartment of masonry, built up against the side of the rock, which rises about twenty feet high: the principal apartment, or chapel, is about eighteen feet long, seven and a half wide, and seven and a half high, adorned with pilasters, from which spring the groins of the roof: at the east end is an altar with a niche behind it for a crucifix; and near the altar is a cavity containing a cenotaph, with a recumbent female figure having the hands raised in the attitude of prayer. In the inner apartment are another altar and a niche for a couch. From this inner apartment was a door leading to an open gallery or cloister. Steps led up from the hermitage to the hermit’s garden at the top of the bank.” (Penny Cyclopaedia.) Who was the inhabitant of this strange home, and why he inhabited it, are questions that after all we must leave the poets and romance writers to solve, and they could not be in better hands. It has been supposed that one of the Bertram family, who had murdered his brother, was the tenant of the hermitage, desiring in solitude by unceasing repentance to expiate his crime; but all we know is that the Percy family maintained from some unknown period a chantry priest here.

Figure spread at pages 108 and 109:

Figure 421
421.—Ludlow Castle
Figure 422
422.—Goodrich Castle
Figure 423
423.—Clifford’s Tower, and Entrance to York Castle.
Figure 424
424.—Peverel Castle
Figure 425
425.—Interor of Newark Castle

As the present fortress of Newcastle (Fig. 431) was erected by Robert de Curthose, the eldest of the Conqueror’s sons, on his return from an expedition into Scotland, we may judge of the general antiquity of the place by the name then given, the New-Castle. There can be no doubt, indeed, that the spot had been a Roman station, and very little but that in those early days it had been of some importance. After the introduction of Christianity the place became known by the name of Monk Chester, from the number of monastic institutions it contained. On the erection of the fortress, the town took the same name, New-Castle. The tower of this Norman structure remains essentially complete, and forms one of the most striking specimens in existence of the rude but grand-looking and (for the time) almost impregnable Norman stronghold. The first point of attraction to a visitor’s eyes on entering Newcastle is that huge gloomy pile; it is also the last on which he turns his lingering glance on his departure. It stands upon a raised platform near the river, majestically isolated in its own “garth” or yard, to which we ascend by a steep flight of steps, spanned near the top by a strong postern with a circular Norman arch, reminding us of the difficulties that formerly attended such ascent, when the approval of the inhabitants of the castle had not been previously gained. Crossing the garth to the east side, the one shown in the engraving (Fig. 431), we perceive the extraordinary character of the entrance, which, commencing at the corner on the left hand, and gradually rising, runs through the pile that seems to have been built against the keep rather than forming an integral part of it up to a considerable height, where the real entrance into the keep (originally most richly decorated) is to be found. Through this entrance we pass into one of the most remarkable of halls; it is of immense breadth, length, and height, dimly lighted through the various slit holes, hung here and there with rusty armour, and inhabited by an old pensioner and his family, whose little domestic conveniences when the eye does light upon them (for generally speaking they are lost in the magnitude of the place) have a peculiarly quaint effect. The recesses in various parts formed out of the solid thickness of the wall give us the best idea of its strength; one of these, possibly intended for the minstrels who sung the mighty deeds of the Norman chivalry to men yearning to emulate their fame, is alone of the size of a small and not very small apartment. But let us descend by the winding staircase to the chapel beneath; recalling as we go a few recollections on the general subject of chapels in castles.

In the plan of an ancient castle (Fig. 346) it will be seen that the chapel forms a component part of the whole; and in turning from the plan to the descriptions of our castles generally, we find in almost every case a similar provision made for the performance of religious duties. It may seem either a melancholy or a consolatory consideration, according to the point of view from which we look, to perceive that in the age to which our present pages refer, when the mailed nobles made might right, declared their pleasure and called it law, that then religion, as far as regarded sincere, zealous, and most unquestioning faith, and an indefatigable observance of all its forms and ceremonies, formed also a most conspicuous feature of the same men. To pray for mercy one hour, and be most merciless the next; to glorify the Giver of all good, as the most fitting preparation for the dispensation of all evil; to enshrine their hopes of salvation on the altar of Christ, the divine messenger of love, whilst they pressed forward to the mortal end of all through a continuous life of rapine, violence, and strife;—these were the almost unvarying characteristics of the early Norman lords, the builders of the old castles, where the keep and the chapel yet stand in many places side by side in most significant juxtaposition; the material embodiment of the two principles thus strangely brought together working to the most opposite conclusions, but with the utmost apparent harmony of intention. The great castle-builder provided his walls and his courts, his keep and his dungeons; but a chapel was no less indispensable alike to his station and his actual wants. Beleaguered or free, he must be able at all times to hear the daily mass, or, more grateful still to lordly ears, the pious orison offered up for his own and his family’s welfare; he must be able to fly to the chapel for succour when the “thick-coming fancies” of superstition press upon his imagination and appal him by their mysterious influence, or when defeat or danger threatens; there too in the hour of triumph must he be found, his own voice mingling with the chant of the priests; at births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths the sacred doors must ever be at hand; the child fast growing up towards man’s estate, who has spent his entire life within the castle walls, looks forward to the chapel as the scene that shall usher him into a world of glory,—already he feels the touch of the golden spurs, the sway of the lofty plumes, the thrill of the fair hands that gird on his maiden sword; already, with alternating hopes and fears, he anticipates his solitary midnight vigil within the chapel walls. And truly such a night in such a place as this, to which we have descended, below the keep of Newcastle, was calculated to try the tone of the firmest nerves; for though beautiful, exceedingly beautiful it is in all that respects the architectural style to which it belongs, and of which it is a rare example, there are here no lofty pointed windows, with their storied panes, to admit the full broad stream of radiant splendour, or to give the idea of airiness or elegance to the structure. All is massive, great, and impressively solemn. (Fig. 432.)

The Chapel in the Tower of London (Fig. 433), equally perfect with that of Newcastle, and probably equally ancient, presents in its aspect as remarkable a contrast to that structure as a work erected in the same age, country, and style could have well given us. Here we have aisles divided from the nave by gigantic but noble-looking pillars, being divested of the low stunted character often apparent in Norman ecclesiastical edifices; and their effect is enhanced in no slight degree by the arches in the story above. The Chapel is now used as a Record Office. We need only briefly mention the other ecclesiastical building of the Tower, the Chapel of St. Peter, standing in the area that surrounds the White Tower, and which must be of very early date, since we find that in the reign of Henry III. it was existing in a state of great splendour, with stalls for the king and queen, two chancels, a fine cross, beautiful sculpture, paintings, and stained glass. But at whatever period erected, the view (Fig. 434) shows us that material alterations of the original building have probably taken place, though no doubt the pews, the flat roof, and the Tudor monuments are themselves sufficient, in so small a place, to conceal or to injure the naturally antique expression. But there are peculiar associations connected with these walls that make all others tedious in the comparison as a “twice-told tale.” In our previous remarks we have glanced at the general uses of the chapels in our old castles; this one of the Tower has been devoted to a more momentous service than any there enumerated: hither, from time to time, have come a strangely assorted company, led by the most terrible of guides, the executioner, through the most awful of paths, a sudden and violent death; in a word, beneath the un-suggestive-looking pavement, which seems to mock one’s earnest gaze, and along which one walks with a reverential dread of disturbing the ashes of those who lie below, were buried the innocent Anne Boleyn and her brother, and the guilty Catherine Howard and her associate, Lady Rochford; the venerable Lady Salisbury, and Cromwell, Henry VIII.’s minister; the two Seymours, the Admiral and the Protector of the reign of Edward VI., and the Duke of Norfolk, and the Earl of Essex, of the reign of Elizabeth; Charles II.’s son, the Duke of Monmouth, and the Earls Balmerino and Kilmarnock, with their ignoble coadjutor, Lord Lovat; above all, here were buried Bishop Fisher, and his illustrious friend More. One would suppose, on looking over such a list of names, that the scaffold, while assuming the mission of Death, was emulous to strike with all Death’s impartiality, and sweep away just and unjust, guilty and innocent, with equal imperturbability. It was a short road from the opening to this death-in-life at the Traitor’s Gate (Fig. 435), and thence through the gaping jaws of the Bloody Tower (Fig. 436), to the final resting-place of St. Peter’s Chapel.