« PreviousContinue »
KEEPS OF HENRY I.
Argentan, Exmes, Domfront, Ambrières, Vire, Waure, Vernon, Evreux, Alençon, St Jean, and Coutances. How many of these survive we cannot positively say;? we can only speak of those we have seen (Falaise, Domfront, and Gisors), and of Arques, described by M. Deville in his Histoire du Chateau d'Arques, by M. Viollet le Duc in his treatise on Donjons, and by Mr G. T. Clark.4
Speaking under correction, as a prolonged study of the keeps in Normandy was impossible to the writer, we should
that there is no very striking difference to be observed between the keeps of Henry I. and those built by his father. The development of the forebuilding seems to be the most important change, if indeed we are justified in assuming that the 11th-century keeps never had it; its remains can be seen at Arques, Falaise, Domfront, and Rochester. At Arques and Falaise the doorway is on the second floor, which is an innovation, a new attempt to solve the difficulty of defending the entrance. The first floor at Arques could
1 The keep of Caen, which was square, was demolished in 1793. De Caumont, Cours d'Antiquités, V., 231. The keep of Alençon is also destroyed. There are fragments of castles at Argentan, Exmes, and St Jean-le-Thomas. The keep of Vernon or Vernonnet is embedded in a factory. Guide Joanne, p. 6.
2 The writer has also visited Vire and Le Mans, but even if the walls of the keep of Vire, of which only two sides remain, were the work of Henry I., the details, such as the corbelled lintel, the window benches, and the loop in the basement for a crossbow, point to a later period. At Le Mans, to the north of the cathedral, is a fragment of an ancient tower, built of the rudest rubble, with small quoins of ashlar ; this may be the keep built by William I., which Wace says was of stone and lime (p. 234, Andresen's edition). It is difficult to examine, being built up with cottages. Domfront, like Langeais, is only a fragment, consisting of two walls and some foundations. 3 Dictionnaire de l'Architecture.
4 M. M. A., i., 186. 6 In speaking of Falaise, of course we only mean the great square keep, and not the Little Donjon attached to it at a later period, nor the fine round keep added by Talbot in the 15th century.
only be entered by a trap from the second floor; at Falaise there is a stone stair from one to the other. Rochester is entered from the first foor. The basement storeys of Arques, Falaise, and Domfront are quite unlit ; at the Tower the basement has had a number of loopholes, and the angular heads of those which remain suggest that they are at least copied from original lights. The main floors in Henry I.'s keeps are always of wood, but this was not because vaulting was then unknown, because the crypt, subcrypt, and chapel of the Tower are vaulted, not to speak of many early churches. The four keeps mentioned have all three storeys, thus not exceeding Colchester in height;? the Tower has
now four storeys, but a good authority has remarked that the fourth storey has not improbably been made by dividing the third.
No marked advance is observable in the masonry of these keeps. Arques is built of petit appareil ; Falaise of small stones in herring-bone work; Domfront of very small stones rudely coursed; Rochester of Kentish rag mixed with flint rubble. Both Falaise and Domfront have plinths of superior masonry, but there is always the possibility that these plinths are later additions. The voussoirs of the arches at Falaise, Domfront, and Rochester are larger than the rag or tile voussoirs which are used at Colchester, the Tower, and Langeais. At Rochester and Arques provision is made for carrying the water-supply from the well in the
1 Small spaces, such as the chapel, passages, and mural chambers, are vaulted in most keeps.
2 Colchester keep has only two storeys now, but Mr Round argues that it must have had three, as a stairway leads upward from the second floor, in the N.W. tower, and some fragments of window cases remain as evidence. Colchester Castle, p. 92.
KEEPS OF HENRY I.
basement to the upper floors, a provision of which there is no trace in the older keeps.
As Robert de Monte says that Henry I. built many castles in England as well as in Normandy, we naturally ask what other English keeps besides Rochester may be assigned to him. It
appears to the writer that Corfe and Norwich keeps may very likely be his. Both were royal castles in his time, and both were originally wooden castles on mottes.? Both these castles have forebuildings, and neither of them have floors supported on vaults. Corfe has very superior masonry, of larger stones than those used in the keeps known to be Henry I.'s, but wide-jointed. At Norwich only a very small piece of the original ashlar is left. Corfe is extremely severe in all its details, but quite corresponds to work of Henry I.'s reign. Norwich has a great deal of decoration, more advanced in style than that to be seen at Falaise, but still consistent with the first half of the 12th century. Neither keep has the least sign of Transition Norman, such as we seldom fail to find in the keeps of Henry II. Moreover, neither of them figure in the Pipe Rolls of Henry II., except for repairs ; and as Stephen in his harassed reign can hardly have had any money for building stone keeps, we
1 The Tower and Colchester keep both have wells, which are seldom wanting in any keep. There was no appearance of a well at Langeais, but excavation might possibly reveal one.
2 The first castle at Corfe was built by. William's half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain. The keep of Corfe is sometimes attributed to him, but when we compare its masonry with that of the early hall or chapel in the middle bailey, we shall see that this date is most unlikely. Norwich was always a royal castle.
3 Part of the basement of Norwich keep has pillars, from which it has been assumed that it was vaulted ; but no trace of vaulting is to be seen.
* The only decoration at Corfe keep is in the oratory, which being at a vast height in one of the ruined walls is inaccessible to the ordinary visitor. Corfe was so much pulled about by Sir Christopher Hatton in Elizabeth's reign, and is now so ruinous, that many features are obscure. Norwich has suffered greatly from restorations, and from re-casing.
, may with some confidence ascribe these two keeps to Henry I.
A few words should be given to the castle of Gisors, which contains in itself an epitome of castle history. The first castle, built by William Rufus in 1096, was undoubtedly a wooden castle on a motte, with a stockaded bailey below it; certain portions of the present bailey walls rest on earthen banks, which probably belonged to the original castle, and show what a much smaller affair it was than the present one. Henry I., Robert de Monte tells us, strengthened this castle with a keep. Probably this was the shell wall which now crowns the motte ; the smallness of the masonry (stones about 5 inches high, rudely dressed and coursed) and the slight projection of the buttresses (9 inches) agree with much of the work of his time. There would be a wooden tower inside. The chemise or shell wall is pierced by loopholes, a very unusual arrangement; they are round arched, and of very rude voussoirs. Inside this shell there is a decagonal tower, called the Tower of Thomas à Becket, which is almost certainly the work of Henry II., as its name would indicate ; the chapel of St Thomas
1 In 1184 Henry II. paid "for re-roofing the tower of Gisors." Rotuli Scacc. Normannia, i., 72.
? It should be remembered that rude work is not invariably a sign of age ; it may only show haste, or poverty of resources. It should also be mentioned that in the Exchequer Rolls of Normandy there is an entry of £650 in 1184 for several works at Gisors, including “the wall round the motte" (murum circa motam). Possibly this may refer to a wall round the foot of the motte, which seems still to exist. The shell wall of Gisors should be compared with that of Lincoln, which is probably of the first half of the 12th century.
3 No decagonal tower of Henry I.'s work is known to exist ; all his tower keeps are square.
THE KEEP OF CARLISLE
is close to it. A stair turret of the 15th century has been added to this keep; its original entrance was, as usual, a door on the first floor, but a basement entrance was built afterwards, probably in the 13th century. Philip Augustus, after he had taken this castle from John, added to it one of the round keeps which had then become the fashion, and subsequent enlargements of the bailey converted it into a “concentric" castle, of which the motte now forms the centre.
There is one keep which is known to be of the reign of Stephen, though not built by him, that of Carlisle, built by David, King of Scotland, in 1136," a time when he thought his hold on the four northern counties of England was secure, little reckoning on the true character of his great-nephew, Henry, son of Matilda. There is no advance to be seen in this keep on those of Henry I., except that the walls are faced with ashlar. The vaulting of the basement is pronounced by Mr Clark to be very evidently a late insertion.
With the reign of Henry II. a new era opens as regards the documentary history of our ancient castles, because the Pipe Rolls of that king's reign have most fortunately been preserved. These contain the sheriff's accounts for money spent on the building or repair of the king's castles, and are simply invaluable for the history of castle architecture. The following is a list of
1 Buwer, Scotichronicon, v., 42. This passage was first pointed out by Mr George Neilson in Notes and Queries, 8th ser., viii., 321. The keep of Carlisle has been so much pulled about as to obscure most of its features. The present entrance to the basement is not original.
2 M. M. A., i., 353.
3 Unfortunately the greater part of these valuable Rolls is still un. published. The Pipe Roll Society is issuing a volume every year, and this year (1910) has reached the 28th Henry II.