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CORFE, Dorset (Fig. 13).—Mr Eyton has shown that for the castellum Warham of Domesday Book we ought to read Corfe, because the castle was built in the manor of Kingston, four miles from Wareham. And this is made clear by the Testa de Nevill, which says that the church of Gillingham was given to the nunnery of Shaftesbury in exchange for the land on which the castle of Corfe is placed. Because King Edward the
? Martyr was murdered at Corfe, at some place where his stepmother Elfrida was residing, it has been inferred that there was a Saxon castle at Corfe; and because there is a building with some herring-bone work among the present ruins, it has been assumed that this building is the remains of that castle or palace. But the AngloSaxon Chronicle, the only contemporary authority for the event, says nothing of any castle at Corfe, but simply tells us that Edward was slain at Corfe Geat, a name which evidently alludes to a gap or passage through the chalk hills, such as there is at Corfe. Nor is there
any mention of Corfe as a fortress in Anglo-Saxon times it is not named in the Burghal Hidage, and we do not hear of any sieges of it by the Danes. Nor is it likely that the Saxons would have had a fortress at Corfe, when they had a fortified town so near as Wareham."
1 Eyton, Key to Domesday, p. 43. This passage was kindly pointed out to me by Dr Round. The castle is not mentioned in Domesday under Wareham, but under Kingston. “De manerio Chingestone habet rex unam hidam, in qua fecit castellum Warham, et pro ea dedit S. Mariæ [of Shaftesbury] ecclesiam de Gelingeham cum appendiciis suis.” D. B., i., 78b, 2.
2 “Advocatio ecclesie de Gillingeham data fuit abbati [sic] de S. Edwardo in escambium pro terra ubi castellum de Corf positum est.” Testa de Nevill, 164b.
3 It is by no means certain that Corfe was the scene of Edward's murder, as we learn from a charter of Cnut (Mon. Ang., iii., 55) that there was a Corfe Geat not far from Portisham, probably the place now called Coryates.
4 Called by Asser a castellum; but it has already been pointed out that castellum in early writers means a walled town and not a castle. (See p. 25.) Wareham is a town fortified by an earthen vallum and ditch, and is one of the boroughs of the Burghal Hidage. (See Ch. II., p. 28.) A Norman castle was built there after the Conquest, and its motte still remains. D. B. says seventy-three houses were utterly destroyed from the time of Hugh the Sheriff. 1., 75.
Kingston, the manor in which Corfe is situated, was not an important place, as it had no dependent soke. The language of Domesday absolutely upsets the idea of any Saxon castle or palace at Corfe, as it tells us that William obtained the land for his castle from the nuns of Shaftesbury, and we may be quite sure they had no castle there.)
Corfe Castle stands on a natural hill, which has been so scarped artificially that the highest part now forms a large motte. Three wards exist—the eastern or motte ward, the western, and the southern. The two former probably formed the original castle. On the motte (which possibly is not artificial, but formed by scarping) stands the lofty keep, of splendid workmanship, probably of the time of Henry I. In the ward pertaining to it are buildings of the time of John and Henry III. The western ward has towers of the 13th century, but it also contains the interesting remains of an early Norman building, probably a hall or chapel, built largely of herring-bone work; this is the building which has been so positively asserted to be a Saxon palace. But herring-bone masonry, which used to be thought an infallible sign of Saxon work, is now found to be more often Norman. The building is certainly
1 Edred granted "to the religious woman, Elfthryth," supposed to be the Abbess of Shaftesbury, “pars telluris Purbeckinga,” which would include Corfe. Mon. Ang., ii., 478.
2 Both these kings spent large sums on Corfe Castle. See the citations from the Pipe Rolls in Hutchins' Dorset, vol. i., and in Mr Bond's History of Corfe Castle.
3 See Professor Baldwin Brown's paper in the Journal of the Institute of British Architects, Third Series, ii., 488, and Mr Micklethwaite's in Arch. 1 There are other instances in which the chapel is the oldest piece of mason-work about the castle, as, for example, at Pontefract.
an ancient one, and may possibly have been contemporary with the first Norman castle ; its details are unmistakably Norman. But very likely it was the only Norman masonry of the 17th century at Corfe Castle. It is clear that the stone wall which at present surrounds the western bailey did not exist when the hall (or chapel) was built, as it blocks up its southern windows. Probably there was a palisade at first on the edge of the scarp. Palisades still formed part of the defences of the castle in the time of Henry III., when 62l. was paid "for making two good walls in place of the
“ palisades at Corfe between the old bailey of the said castle and the middle bailey towards the west, and between the keep of the said castle and the outer bailey towards the south."? This shows that the present
2 wing-walls down from the motte were previously represented by stockades. The ditch between the keep and the southern bailey has been attributed to King John, on the strength of an entry in the Close Rolls which orders fifteen miners and stone-masons to work on the banks of the ditch in 1214.8 But we may be quite certain that this ditch below the motte belonged to the original plan of the castle ; John's work would be either to line it with masonry, or to enlarge it.
It is not without significance for the early history of the castle that Durandus the carpenter held the manor of Mouldham near Corfe, by the service of finding a carpenter to work at the keep whenever required."
The area of Corfe Castle, if we include the large
Journ., liii., 338 ; also Professor Baldwin Brown's remarks on Corfe Castle in The Arts in Early England, ii., 71.
2 Cited in Hutchins' Dorset, i., 488, from the Close Rolls. 3 Close Rolls, i., 178b.
4 Hutchins' Dorset, i., 488.
southern bailey, is 34 acres; without it, it acres. This bailey was certainly in existence in the reign of Henry III. (as the extract from the Close Rolls proves) before the towers of superb masonry were added to it by Edward I.
The value of Kingston Manor had considerably increased at the date of the Survey. After the Count of Mortain forfeited his lands (in 1105), the castle of Corfe was kept in the hands of the crown, and this increases the probability that the keep was built by Henry I.
About 400 yards S.W. of Corfe Castle is an earthwork which might be called a “Ring and Bailey." Instead of the usual motte there is a circular enclosure, defended by a bank and ditch of about the same height as those of its bailey, but having in addition an interior platform or berm. This work is probably the remains of a camp thrown up by Stephen during his unsuccessful siege of Corfe Castle in 1139.
Dover, Kent (Fig. 14).—The Norman historian, , William of Poitiers, tells us that the castrum of Dover was built by Harold at his own expense.
This comes from the celebrated story of the oath of Harold to William, a story of which Mr Freeman says that there is no portion of our history more entangled in the mazes of contradictory and often impossible statements.? But let us assume the statement about the castrum to be true; the question then to be answered is this : of what nature was that castrum? We never are told by English chroniclers that Harold built any castles, though we do hear of his fortifying towns.
1 Castrum Doveram, studio atque sumptu suo communitum. P. 108. Eadmer makes Harold promise to William “Castellum Dofris cum puteo aquæ ad opus meum te facturum.” Hist. Novorum, i., d. The castle is not mentioned in Domesday Book.
2 Norman Conquest, iii., 217.