Page images
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


ROCHESTER CASTLE is supposed to occupy a portion of the Roman station Durobrivis. The earliest notice we have of it, which can be relied on, is in 765, when Egbert, king of Kent, gave a certain portion of land to the church, lying within the walls of the Castle of Rochester. In 855 Ethelwulph, king of Wessex, gave a : house to one Dunne, his minister, situated-" in meridie Castelli Hroffl.” Kilburne, indeed, says, that "Cesar commanded the Castle to be built (according to Roman order), to awe the Britons, and the same was called the Castle of Medway; but time and tempests bringing it entirely to decay, Oise, or Uske, king of Kent, about the year 490, caused Hroff, one of his chief councillors, and lord of this place, to build a new Castle upon the old foundation, and hereupon it took the name of Hroffe's Ceaster.”

The Castle was dilapidated by the Danes, but was afterwards repaired and garrisoned by William the Conqueror. The repairs appear to have been effected under the superintendance of Odo, bishop of Baieux, who had been constituted earl of Kent and chief justiciary of England; but afterwards, proving tyrannical, was seized


and sent prisoner to Rouen, in Normandy, where he continued till the accession of William Rufus, who restored him to his titles and possessions, but neither duty nor gratitude could restrain the turbulence of Odo, who excited an insurrection in Kent, in favour of Robert duke of Normandy, the king's brother; and having pillaged and destroyed various places, secured his plunder in Rochester Castle. Rufus immediately laid siege to the Castle, which was stoutly defended for a considerable time, by Odo's friends. The king, who was incensed at their resistance, refused to grant them any terms, but was at length persuaded to pardon them. They were, however, compelled to abjure the realm, with forfeiture of their estates. Odo himself was sent prisoner to Tunbridge castle, but the king afterwards pardoned him, on condition that he quitted the realm for ever.

The Castle was soon afterwards repaired, and the keep (of which such considerable portions remain) built by Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, who was particularly skilful in architecture and masonry.

In the year 1126 Henry I. granted to William Corboyl, the then archbishop of Canterbury, and to his successors, the custody of this Castle. It was, however, resumed by Henry II. probably after his quarrel with the ambitious Thomas a Becket. In 1215, when king John was embroiled with his barons, and had signed Magna Charta, though contrary to his inclina

« PreviousContinue »