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HAREWOOD CASTLE, or, more properly, Harewood fortified manor-house, is an entirely new creation of the third quarter of the fourteenth century. There is no evidence of any earlier building on this site. The uneven ground to the north-east is evidently the remains of the quarry from which the stone of the present building was dug. Nor is the place a castle in the sense of being built for military purposes. It is simply an unique and most interesting example of an up-to-date mansion for the great territorial noble of the fourteenth century. The work can be dated with some precision, for William de Aldborough, Lord of Harewood, in the right of his wife (who is conjectured to have been a daughter of John de Lisle, of Rougemont) obtained licence to crenellate his house at Harewood in 1366—the year following his accession to the estate. It is important to remember the date of the Black Death seventeen years before. It is possible that the plague wrought great havoc among the dwellers in the damp low-lying dwellinghouse at Rougemont, and that Aldborough-a man of energy and ideas-determined that the family seat should be moved to a higher and more hygienic position. Exactly the same thing happened four hundred years later, when, on the other side of the hill, Mr. Lascelles built Harewood House, on the pleasant southern slope, to replace the low-lying Gawthorp Hall, which existed in the hollow to the south of it.
And this is a point of great interest. In Harewood Castle and in Harewood House you have two mansion - houses built for the occupancy and enjoyment of two great landed families-that is, for men of the same class, with similar interests in the land ; built of the same stone, and the workmen at Harewood House were probably direct descendants of the masons who had hewn the stones for the Castle. Exactly four hundred years separated the date of the building of the Castle from that of the building of the House. Far more interesting, however, than the mere details of architecture is the human and historical interest which such places bring to mind. We may well try to repeople this castle with the men and women who first dwelt here, and fashioned it to suit their own ideas and tastes. The effigies of some of these early inhabitants of the castle may be seen lying in their sumptuous apparel upon their altar-tombs in Harewood Church.
The plan of the castle is a very interesting one; it is “ tower-built,” like the keep of a Norman castle, but it shows the partial step towards the English manor-house type of plan. In the Norman castle the kitchen occupies the lower floor, the hall the middle floor, and the solar the top floor. In the manor-house, kitchen, hall, and solar are one floor, with the hall in the centre. Here the hall and kitchen are on the same floor, while the solar is above the hall. It is this fact of the kitchen being on the ground foor which makes the plan of Harewood Castle differ from the rectangular structures with a tower at each corner. If you take away the kitchen extension at the west, you get the exact plan of Dacre, or of many a Northumbrian peel-tower. Aldborough, therefore, had taken the peel - tower type of plan, and tacked on to it a spacious wing for the kitchen and buttery, with retainers' bedrooms above -an evidence of the growing luxury of the age. There are really only two things to bear in mind in studying the development of the plan of the English house-firstly, that the hall was the central fact of the house, from which all else radiated, like the blood from the heart-and, secondly, the desire for greater comfort and luxury which led to all the modifications of this central fact.
The entrance is in what would be the north-west tower, were it not for the kitchen wing to the west. There are remains of a platform outside, and portcullis grooves on the inner side of the door. Above is the portcullis chamber, and above, again, a three-light traceried window, with the shield of Ballioli on the left, and of Aldborough on the right. Above is the motto of the Aldboroughs, "vat sal be, sal." Inside can be seen the holes in which the wooden screen was housed, which separated the passage - way from the hall. The hall is on our left. The windows are high up for better protectior, and steps lead up to the window seats. On the east wall is the fireplace, with a portion of its original hearth. (See page 176, fig. A.) On the south wall is a very richly-decorated recess-a veritable specimen of the so-called Decorated style of architecture, is lighted by a small window at the back. Beneath the sill is a vine-leaf border. The ogee canopy is crochetted, and terminates in a finial. There is a frieze above, with a bird at the left-hand side. (Fig. B.) This was conjectured by
1 Aldborough was · Valettus,"
or esquire, of the body to Edward Bruce,
King of Scotland. Balliol had retired to Wheatley, near Doncaster
Whitaker to have been a sideboard, and it must have looked very well when loaded with plate.
The solar above the hall was reached by a spacious newel staircase on the north wall. The beams of its foor rested on large corbels. The plate lines on the roof gable of this upper room remain on the east and west walls. There has been a gallery at the east end, and the fireplace under would form an ingle-nook on a large scale. The upper storey of the entrance, or north-west tower, has traceried windows-such as nowhere else--and coats of arms;
among others, those of Aldborough, Balliol, Constable, Vipont, and Thweng. This room has been called by Whitaker the domestic oratory. Since there certainly would be an oratory or chapel in a house of this size, and since it is more richly decorated than any other room in the castle, it is probable that Whitaker's suggestion is correct. The kitchen is a large room below two screens, at the south-west corner of the building. There are two large fireplaces and a reddened oven. The room next to this was the pantry, or buttery, with separate access to cellar. There is a curious projecting window-sill to a lighted recess in this room. Above are two storeys, neither of which seems to have been sub-divided into smaller rooms, perhaps the women-servants slept on one floor and the men-servants on the other. The upper storey has two doors, which opened on to the walks along the leads. These dormitories were reached by a stair close to the entrance. The south-east and north-east towers are five storeys in height, and contained small bedrooms, about 10 feet square, for the use of the owner and his family and guests. Garderobes are attached to these towers. Notice the large number of cupboards or stone recesses in the walls. On exterior of the south wall can be seen a postern-gate, which was protected by a lean-to building.
The exterior walls are 6 feet thick on the south, and 9 feet 3 inches on the north.
A later wing was built on to the north wall, but this has now disappeared. The bowling green to the east is probably an Elizabethan addition. Throughout, the masonry is of the highest excellence, and the work is well constructed and truthful. It is a sturdy, straightforward piece of English masonry. Ornament is sparingly applied, and only in places where it would tell. Here, as at all good periods in the history of building, the architecture is merely a background, well proportioned, and well built for the living people who used it.