Carlisle Castle


Figure 382
382.—Alnwick Castle.

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 historical interest of Carlisle belongs to a later period, and we shall return to it. So does the Castle of Alnwick (Fig. 382). But we here introduce the noble seat of the Percies, for it 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 Hoveden, 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 interior 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 clearing 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 Barn-borough, 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.

Figure spread at pages 100 and 101:

Figure 390
390.—Cardiff Castle
Figure 395
395.—Rougemont Castle
Figure 396
396.—Tower of Oxford Castle
Figure 397
397.—Oxford Castle
Figure 398
398.—Norwich Castle
Figure 399
399.—Norwich Castle
Figure 400