Fortifications and buildings
The castle

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Eneas Mackenzie

Year published

1827

Pages

89-104

Citation Show another format:

'Fortifications and buildings: The castle', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 89-104. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43322 Date accessed: 20 September 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

FORTIFICATIONS AND BUILDINGS.

THE CASTLE.

MOST historians agree that this strong and important fortress was built by Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, on his return, in the year 1080, from an unsuccessful expedition against Malcolm, king of Scotland. (fn. 1) It was built upon the venerable ruins of the Roman stations Pons Ælii, and was called, in opposition to these remains, The New Castle upon Tyne; and which appellation was afterwards extended to the adjoining Town. (fn. 2) As this Castle secured the bridge from the attacks of the Scots, and afforded a safe station for the rendezvous of the English armies, it was, during many ages, a place of considerable importance.

Scarcely had this fortress been completed, before it was converted to a purpose very different from that intended by its royal founder, having been secured to protect the rebellion of Earl Mowbray against William Rufus, the son and successor of William the Conqueror. The king marched against it in 1095, and took it after a short siege; but the noble traitor escaped to Tynemouth, which being also taken, he took refuge in the castle of Bambrough. After sustaining a long siege, the earl, yielding to the solicitations of the guards of Newcastle, was betrayed from his strong hold, pursued, and dragged from St. Oswin's church at Tynemouth, whither he had fled for sanctuary. From thence he was taken to Windsor Castle, where he died in great wretchedness, after a confinement of thirty years.

During several successive reigns, large sums were appropriated for the repairs of this Castle. King Henry II. in 1174, granted, by his writ, £175, 13s. 4d. for its reparations; and king John, in 1213, made a fosse round it, with some new and additional works towards the river. (fn. 3) In 1234, king Henry III. expended £22 on the works of the Castle; and, in 1248, he erected a new gate, now called the Black Gate, which cost £514, 15s. 11d. The repairing of a gate, in 1250, cost £36, 0s. 8d., and of the King's Tower in the Castle, 67s. 5d.: and, in 1268, the further sum of £14, 16s. 6d. was paid for reparations of the Castle. (fn. 4)

In the year 1336, there was an inquisition taken at Newcastle upon Tyne concerning the reparation of this castle, whereby it was found, that at the battle of Bannockburn, in the year 1313, when John de Kenton, Knt. was sheriff of Northumberland, (fn. 5) the fortress, and all the edifices about it, were in good repair—that afterwards Nicholas Scot, Adam de Swinburn, William Riddell, John de Fenwick, Cuthbert de Boroughdon, John de Fenwick, John de Wodhorne, John de Lilleburne, William de Tyndale, Roger Mauduit, and Robert Darreins, were sheriffs of Northumberland—during which time it was affirmed that the great tower, and also the lesser ones of the said castle, the great hall, with the King's chamber adjoining thereto; together with divers other chambers below in Queen's mantle, and the buttry-cellar and pantry: the King's chapel within the castle; a certain house beyond the gate which is called the Checker-House, with the bridges within and without the gate, and one postern, were £300 worse than before: they say also, that there were in the custody of Roger Mauduit, late sheriff, four hundred and twenty fothers of lead. They say also, that it was thought highly necessary, that the Baron Heron, of Haddeston, the Baron of Walton, Lord Robert de Clifford, of the New-Place, Chief Lord of the Barony of Gaugie, the Lords of the Barony of — and Devilston; that the Lord of Werk upon Tweed, the Lord of the Barony of Bolbeck, alias Bywell, the Baron of Bothall, and, lastly, the Baron of Delaval, should build each of them a house within the liberties of the castle, for the defence thereof. The house of the Baron of Werk was built over the Postern.

John Baliol, king of Scotland, did homage for the crown of that kingdom to Edward I. king of England, on December 26, 1292, in the great hall of his palace, within this Castle. There is a writ, dated five years after this time, commanding the sheriff of Northumberland to store the Castle of Newcastle upon Tyne with victuals and other necessaries, and to cause it to be safely guarded. In 1323, one quarter of the body of Andrew de Hartcla, who had suffered death for treason, was ordered to be stuck up on the tower of this Castle, which, about the same time, seems to have been put in a posture of defence.

When the kingdoms of England and Scotland came under the government of one king, this Castle was abandoned by the crown as a fortified place; and the warlike halls, which had often resounded with the "wassel mirth and revelry" of "throngs of knights and barons bold," were, from the year 1605 to 1616, farmed by the incorporated company of tailors of Newcastle, at the annual rent of one pound sterling. But part of the keep seems to have been retained as a prison. (fn. 6)

Alexander Stephenson, a Scottish man, who came in with king James—begg'd the Castle of the king. He was one of his close-stool." (fn. 7) His majesty, by letters patent, dated April 14, 1618, granted to this Stevenson, at the rent of forty shillings per annum, all his old Castle, excepting the county-prison for Northumberland, the Moot Hall, and other conveniences for keeping the assizes and sessions. At this time, the Castle ward-rent amounted to £32 per annum.

By an inquisition taken in 1620, it appears that this ancient fortress was much dilapidated. The great square tower was full of chinks and crannies, and one-third of it was almost taken away. The lead and covering which it had of old was embezzled and carried off, insomuch that the prisoners of the county of Northumberland were most miserably lodged, by reason of the showers of rain falling upon them. The charge of repairing it was estimated at £809, 15s. Complaint was also made of an enormous dunghill, in length 98 yards, 32 in breadth, and 10 yards deep, which imposed so prodigious a weight upon the wall on the west side of the Castle, in length 40 yards, 10 yards in height, and two yards broad, as to have thrown down a great part thereof, to the great detriment of the strength of the Castle.

In the year 1643, Sir John Marley, the mayor, covered the keep of this Castle with planks, and placed cannon thereon, for the defence of the town; and after the town was stormed, he retired to it, and held out against his powerful enemies for some days. During this memorable siege, this active and determined officer removed the enormous dunghill mentioned above, in order to rampart the town's walls against the besiegers.

It appears that the grant of the Castle Garth by king James to Alexander Stevenson. Esq. fell into the possession of Barbara Blacke, widow of Patrick Blacke; from whom, about November 29, 1646, it was conveyed to Jane Langstone, of St. Martin's in the Fields, in the county of Middlesex, London, who, in 1652, sold her right and title of this property to the corporation of Newcastle upon Tyne. (fn. 8)

About the year, 1662, the king was petitioned to grant this Castle and its precincts (Stevenson's lease being nearly expired) for the use of the town of Newcastle upon Tyne. This was opposed by the county of Northumberland; and during the dispute, Lord Gerard, afterwards Earl of Macclesfield, obtained a grant, dated August 30, 1664, for 99 years, in reversion, determinable on three lives, at the annual rent of 40s. The corporation petitioned against this grant; but the lord commissioners of the treasury could give no redress. They, however, after much consideration, made a grant to the town of the reversion of the premises, the procuring of which cost the corporation £600. (fn. 9)

By a clause in the charter of the 31st of queen Elizabeth to the corporation of Newcastle, the Castle and its precincts, described as being a place of refuge for thieves and vagabonds, were, excepting the dungeon and Moot Hall, placed under the jurisdiction of the magistrates of that town. (fn. 10) But their authority in this place being disputed, his majesty king James II. May 15, 1685, granted a warrant for the Castle Garth to be parcel of Newcastle, which was further confirmed in the grant dated June 17 in the same year, and mentioned above. In 1690, the Earl of Macclesfield attempted to get these letters patent revoked, alleging that the king had not power to take the Castle Garth out of the county of Northumberland, and annex it to the town of Newcastle. On July 18th, 5 William and Mary, the lord keeper issued an injunction for staying the proceedings of the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle against Macclesfield and his tenants. The corporation was charged with vexing them with frivolous suits, breaking open their houses, &c. by virtue of some bye-laws of their own—seizing their goods, inditing them for following their several trades, &c. by virtue of the warrant obtained from James II. which by this order was set aside and abrogated.

On September 23, 1734, (fn. 11) the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle petitioned the king for a further grant of the Castle Garth, their former grant thereof from king James II. having expired. But the interest of Colonel George Liddle, another petitioner, prevailed; for on July 2, 1736, the king granted him the Castle and Castle Garth for the term of 50 years, on condition of paying a fine of £150, and 100 chaldrons of good Newcastle coals annually to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, and of keeping all the buildings, as well those excepted in the lease as granted, in good repair. (fn. 12) In 1739, Colonel Liddle demanded a sum of money of the corporation of Newcastle, for dilapidations in the Castle Garth, the great gate (Black Gate) whereof had fallen down. They agreed, in the following year, to pay him £250 on this account.

The Castle and Castle Garth were, on November 19, 1777, demised from the crown to Henry Lord Ravensworth, for the term of 40 years and an half, commencing the 13th July, 1786, at the same rents, under the same description, and with the like exceptions and covenants, as in the grant to Colonel Liddle. (fn. 13) The leasehold estate of the Castle Garth was advertised to be sold by auction, on May 19, 1779, by Messrs. Christie and Ansell, in London, and was purchased by John Chrichloe Turner, Esq. one of the agents for the Greenwich Hospital estates in the northern counties of England. (fn. 14)

This lessee, who was afterwards knighted, advertised his property in the Castle Garth for sale by auction, on December 17, 1810; and again part thereof on September 18, 1811. (fn. 15) In the following year, the corporation of Newcastle gave 600 guineas to John Turner, Esq. nephew to Sir John Crichloe Turner, for the old Castle. This noble fortress had been long tenanted by a currier, and its walls sheltered a vast number of bats; (fn. 16) while the chapel was used as a beer cellar for the Three Bulls' Heads public house: but its reparation and improvement were now commenced with great spirit. The top of the keep was arched and flagged, the battlements embrasured, a corner tower for a flag-staff raised, and the stairs and interior apartments were carefully restored to their pristine form. Twelve carronades were also mounted, to be fired on days of public rejoicings. (fn. 17)

At this time, a society was formed in Newcastle, for the special purpose of enquiring into the antiquities of the north of England, and for whose use the corporation fitted up suitable apartments in the ancient Castle. The members of this Antiquarian Society held their first meeting here on November 3, 1813; but such an appropriation of the corporation property being disapproved of by part of the free burgesses, the society quitted the Castle in May, 1819. During the subsequent alarm at the spread of Radicalism, this old fortress was again used for a purpose consonant to the intention of its erection; for on November 4, 1819, it was garrisoned by the grenadier company of the 40th regiment. After being abandoned as a military post, it was selected by the magistrates as a temporary place of confinement for debtors, for which purpose it is now used, agreeably to the Act passed May 24, 1822, for building a new Gaol and a new House of Correction in and for the Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne.

This ancient fortress is a fine and venerable specimen of Norman military architecture. (fn. 18) It is situated on a lofty and natural eminence, rising abruptly from the river Tyne, and commands both the town and the passage of the bridge. The ichnography of the keep, or grand tower, describes nearly a square, the lines of the two sides of which bear to the north-west. That front, however, which, properly speaking, ought to be called the south-west, is generally styled the south one. The others are named the east, north, and west sides, with the same little impropriety. The northwest angle is of an hexagonal form, and projects in a manner different from the others. The height of the tower, from the ground on the outside to the top of the lowest battlement, exceeds ninety-seven feet; and the square measures sixty-two by fifty-six feet. The walls exhibit such a massiveness of character, as must have derided assault before the use of artillery.

Annexed to the east side of the keep is an entrance tower, the whole of which might be demolished without important injury to the body of the Castle. This small tower contained and defended the grand staircase. After entering within the inner wall that enclosed the keep, a flight of stairs (there are nineteen at present) led to the second portal, which was merely the entrance to the outer tower. This portal is of prodigious strength, and from the top of it the besieged appear to have had great power to annoy the assailants. (fn. 19) From this entrance the ascent is continued from south to north for twenty-four steps more, when a door-way, in front of the landing-place, leads into a small apartment, thirteen feet by twelve, and which has been richly adorned in the inside. This was probably the porter's lodge, or guardroom; though some have conjectured that it was an oratory. From this place, eight steps, leading from east to west, conducts to the grand, and originally the only entrance into the keep. This noble and lofty portal has had its arch adorned in a superb manner by short pilasters and zig-zag ornaments. No grooves for portcullises are discernible in the portals; but, as Brand observes, "so much appears to have been demolished, that one cannot from thence infer that there have never been any." As the portals of the Gundulph keep have evidently been strengthened by portcullises, (fn. 20) it may very safely be concluded, that this fortress, which exhibits similar characteristics, was provided with the same means of defence.

The grand entrance, which is in the wall of the Castle, led immediately into the state apartments. The great hall displays much antique grandeur and beauty, (fn. 21) and at present forms a lofty, airy, and comfortable prison for male debtors. It is lighted by three windows, placed very high, for the purpose of security against weapons discharged from without. The east window is the most magnificent in the whole great tower. On the south of this stately apartment is the King's Chamber, in which the members of the Antiquarian Society held their meetings. A door on the north side of the hall leads to an apartment with a curious draw-well in it, which is ninety-three feet nine inches in depth. The water is hard and very cold. There are square cavities in the wall on each side of this well, in which are round holes for pipes, used anciently to convey the water to the several apartments.

Below the state apartments is a large room, which Bourne conjectured to be the common hall, and which is lighted by a window in the south front, and one on the west side near the south-west corner. This room, which was immediately above the county-gaol, was flagged by William Ellison, Esq. mayor of Newcastle, in 1723. In the north side of this hall (which is at present used as a temporary prison for female debtors) is an entrance into an apartment that contains the largest fire-place in the Castle, having a chimney on the outside of the wall, by a square projection ending abruptly. This appears to have been the kitchen, connected with which Bourne supposed he could trace both the pantry and cellar. The present fire-place, however, has been built long after the erection of the Castle, as its architecture is in a style that did not prevail until about the beginning of the fifteenth century.

The apartment on the ground-floor, long used as the county prison, measures twenty-five feet six inches by twenty feet nine inches. (fn. 22) It is supported by a hollow pillar, through which water has been conveyed from the well before mentioned. The arches branch out from this curious column very beautifully. The light is admitted by a triple-grated loop-hole; (fn. 23) and there are two passages leading to the door, one communicating with the interior staircase, and the other to an entrance in the south front. The latter entrance, which is now level with the ground, must have been made when this place became the county prison, for there is no arch over it in the wall, and the stones on each side have evidently been broken in forming the passage. Another similar kind of entrance, which has been made on the south-east angle, is also, without doubt, of a date much posterior to that of the original building. The small room on the north side of the dungeon (fn. 24) is now walled up.

The piety of the Normans induced them generally to construct a chapel, as a necessary appendage to castles of great extent and magnificence. The royal chapel, in this Castle, is in the entrance tower, and displays Norman architecture in all its richness and beauty. It is forty-five feet in length, and nineteen feet and a half in breadth, and has all the divisions usual in a sacred edifice. There is a small dark room in the wall of the keep tower, and on the left side of the entrance, which is supposed to have been the vestry. This interesting little chapel is lighted by four windows from the east; and though long hid in dust and darkness, is decidedly the most beautiful place in the whole building. The arches, pillars, and ornaments are in a good state of preservation. It was long used as a cellar, and is still encumbered with rubbish; and the windows are blocked up.

The massive walls of this Castle are composed of freestone, and are fourteen feet six inches thick at the top, and seventeen feet at the bottom. Where no windows have interfered, rooms have been gained out of them, or galleries have passed from one side or story to another. There is no appearance of fire-places in any part of it, but in the rooms in the walls. The gallery of communication, about eighteen feet from the top, goes through the four sides of the tower, and is above seven feet in height, with three or four loop-holes in each side. Below this, in the thickness of the south wall, and about fifty-two feet from the ground, is another gallery, in which have been two ornamented windows.

A bold and spacious winding staircase, of the most curious and ingenious construction, in the north-east angle, led from the ground-floor to the top of the keep. There is another staircase in the south-east angle, which also communicated with the basement story. By the rows of square holes in which the beams have rested, there appears to have been five stories of apartments above the common hall. In the wall of the western front have been several privies, communicating with the great drain. The building at present is well supplied with water-closets.

It is much to be regretted that this ancient Norman structure has been repaired in such bad taste. The battlements of the angular towers, projecting on corbels, destroy the simple character of the keep, and do not belong to the era of its erection. These barbarous additions, so conspicuously placed on the top of this venerable tower, are extremely offensive to the eye of the antiquary, and derogatory to the taste and character of the town. (fn. 25) After the reparation of this fine ruin, the corporation committed it to the care of a person called the "Warden of the Castle." (fn. 26)

It is unnecessary to extend the description of this structure; as a very clear and accurate idea of its figure, dimensions, and interior arrangements, may be obtained from the annexed engravings, copied from drawings executed by Mr. John Dobson, architect. The dotted lines in the south elevation of the keep and entrance-tower, distinguish the old ruin from the recent additions. The drawing of the capital and base of the curious column on the ground-floor, and the section of the arch-ribs, afford an accurate exemplification of the art and taste of the Anglo-Normans. The plan of the grand window in the third story is a decisive specimen of their style of architectural ornaments, which were always very sparingly introduced in castellated structures.

According to a tradition mentioned by Bourne, the chapel of the garrison was near the Castle, where the Three Bulls' Heads public house now stands, and which was, even in his time, called the Chapel House. In digging cellars for this house, human bones, as also a large stone coffin, were found. But perhaps the remains of human bodies might be found on all sides of this fortress. The workmen, while cutting a drain in 1824, a few yards distant from the south side of the Castle, discovered several human skeletons, at various depths from the surface. Two were found near each other, lying with the feet to the east, and secured from the earth by rude sepulchres, the bottoms and tops of which were formed of thin stone slabs, the sides being built up with stones and lime. (fn. 27) One of the skulls, with the teeth, was very perfect, but had a perforation in the top, made by some blunt instrument, and a piece of stone was fixed in the forehead. It is in the possession of Mr. James Wilkin, apothecary. Other bodies seem to have been promiscuously huddled together. In levelling an adjoining hill, called the Mount, in 1812, the skeletons of two men were found, about eighteen inches below the surface, lying with the faces downwards.

The outward wall of this Castle was of great strength, and enclosed an area of three acres one rood. It was strengthened by a circumambient ditch or moat, (fn. 28) and had a grand entrance and three posterns. The main entrance, called the Black Gate, was built by Henry III. in the year 1248. The arch is remarkably strong and gloomy, and extends the length of thirty-six feet. Besides its iron doors, it has been defended by two portcullises, and two draw-bridges; the one on the outside of the gate, and the other within it. (fn. 29) These works were flanked by two strong irregular towers, which are now shut up with confused masses of building, or much defaced by conversion into dwelling-houses; but the base of the eastern tower is still very perfect, and was exposed to the public view in 1822, when some old houses in the Side were pulled down. (fn. 30)

The strength and extent of this structure rendered it a considerable addition to the defensible character of the fortress, and formed an excellent protecting cover to the entrance. It might also be intended as an appendage of honour to the Castle, so often a royal residence, where stately announcements were received and answers returned. Such towers, called the Barbican, for the station of an advanced guard, always formed a prominent part in architectural fortification.

The outer wall was, no doubt, embattled, and strengthened by towers commanding the intervening line of rampart. In a survey of this Castle, taken in 1649, mention is made of "a square old ruined tower, near the draw-bridge of the Castle Garth." On the east side of the wall there was a postern, which led down to the street called the Side; and on the south side, in the Castle Stairs, was another postern. There is an old building upon it, which was the county gaoler's house, and which was occasionally used as a temporary prison. (fn. 31) The other postern, on the west side, led into the inner yard, or ballium. It was pulled down on the formation of the new street to the county courts in 1811, and consisted of a large gate and two small posterns, in a state of good preservation. The inner wall extended from the Black Gate around the great tower, and again joined the outer wall north of Baileygate. A fragment of this wall is still standing.

Moot Hall.—The county courts were held in the great tower till the reign of queen Elizabeth. After the time of James I. an old building (supposed by some to have been the garrison chapel) was converted into the Moot or Mote Hall. (fn. 32) This ancient building was pulled down in 1810; when it exhibited a curious mixture of Roman, Norman, Gothic, and modern architecture. Its eastern wall, which was of vast thickness, appeared to have been the wall of the Roman station. It was built of square tessilated ashler work, and ranged with a similar wall, whose foundations were discovered under the county court. "At the the north end of the Moot Hall was a range of low Norman arches and pilasters; its roof was supported by two heavy pointed arches; and its front had square windows with stone mullions, and the arms of England quartered with those of Scotland over the main entrance." It was large enough for holding two courts, and a judge frequently presided at each end. This old hall occupied the area before the entrance into the present courts.


Footnotes

1 There is much difference and contradiction amongst historians respecting the origin of this Norman building. Hemingford places its erection in 1079; Simeon of Durham and the Mailros Chronicle, in 1080; Hollingshead and Grafton, in 1082; and Hardyng, in the reign of William Rufus. Brand observes that these various accounts may be partly reconciled, "by supposing that the earliest relate to the year when it was begun, and the others to the time of its final completion." Much of the adjoining Roman fortress was, no doubt, used in this new erection. Boethius and Buchanan say this Castle was only repaired by Robert Curthose.
2 "Before the Conquest the old Round Tower was probably in being, and was the old Castle, or Fort of Monkchester; and after the Conquest, when the other Castle was built, it was called (to distinguish it from the old Castle) the New Castle, which in a small time after gave name to the whole place. Something to this purpose are these two or three words about it, in the manuscript of John Milbank, Esq. 'That this new Castle may be distinguished from the old one.' The use of this tower, as the same authority informs us, was made to secure the pass to the bridge in former times."—Bourne's Newcastle, p. 110.
3 By his charter to the burgesses of Newcastle, February 5, in the 14th year of his reign, king John remitted certain eschaet rents which he had in that town, to the value of 110 shillings and 6d. to such of the inhabitants as had lost, or had their property injured by a foss, and new work, made below the castle towards the water.
4 Among several rents and revenues arising to this Castle, Bourne mentions the subsequent, as payable by the twelve following baronies:—
1. The barony of the Herons, which contained Haddeston, Chirton, Little Benton, Coldwell, Swinburne, and Flatford, paid for castle-ward 13s. for cornage 5s. 10d.
2. The barony of Dilstone, containing Devilstone or Dilston, Corbrigg, Togeston, &c. paid for castle-ward 13s. 4d. for cornage 10s.
3. The barony of Walton, given by king John to Robert son of Roger, and confirmed by his charter, contained Walton, Ripplingdon, Newham, Denton, Newbigging, Kenton, Gosford, and Fawden: and also Oggle, Burndon, Horton, with Sticklaw and Hereford and Wodrington, paid for castle-ward £2, for cornage £10.
4. The barony of Bolbeck, containing Stifford, Brumhall, Slavely, Shotton, Heddon of the Wall, Hedwin East, Thornton, Whitchester, Haughton, Benwell, Elswick, Angerton, Hertbourne, Middleton, Morel, Burneton, Beril, Fenwick, Matifin, East Hawkwell, Shalow, Middleton South, Cambhow, Hertweigh, Hawick, Kirkherle, Rocheley, Newton Grange, and the moiety of Bywell, paid for castle-ward £3, 6s. 8d. for cornage £1, 12s.
5. The barony of Bolam, containing Bolam, Litedon, Burneton, Thornbury, Cupum Parvam, Wittington, Hayden, Belsow, Bradeford, Denum, Trewick, and Tunstall, paid for castle-ward £2, for cornage 8s.
6. The barony of Gaugye, containing Ellingham, Cramlington, Heaton, Hartelaw, Jesemuth, and Whitley, paid for castle-ward £2, for cornage 7s. 2d.
7. The barony of Marley, alias Morlaw, alias Morpeth, containing Morpeth, Grimnest membrum suum, Newham, Hebscot, Shillington, Tuysell, Saltwick, Dudden East, Dudden West, Clyfton, Caldwell, Stannington, Shotton, Blakeden, Wetteslade North, Wetteslade South, Killingworth, Benton, and Walker, paid for castle-ward £2, 13s. 4d. for cornage 7s. 8d.
8. The barony of Bothall, containing Bothall cum membris suis, viz. Whetworth, Newmore, Oldmore, Peggesworth, Hebborne, Fenrother, Tricklington, Eresdon, Longhirst cum membris suis, et Nishenden, Veter' Moræ or the Old Moor, and Eringdon, paid for castle-ward £2, for cornage 8s. 8d.
9. The barony of Delaval, containing Blackalladay, Seton cum membris suis, Neusum et Dissington, paid for castle-ward £2, 6s. 8d. for cornage 3s. 3d.
10. The barony of Rosse, containing Werk, Mindram, Karham, Prestfen, Manilawe, Dunum, Palwister, Shotton, Killom, Holthall, Newton and the other Newton, Langeton, Lilleburn, Hilderton, Weperden, Russenden, Tithington, Butlisden, and the moiety of Glattendon.
11. The barony of Bywell, containing Newbigging, Woodhorn, Lynmouth, Hyrste, Hallywell, Lynton, Ellington, cum Cresswell and Ayden membris suis, Bychefield, Inghym, Black Heddon, Samfordham, Newton West, Newton East, Scheellinge, Ovington, Ovingham, Milkylleye, Whitlye, Falderlye, Bromley, Appleby, the moiety of Bywell, Stokefield, Swynburne East, Swynburne West, Ryhill.
12. The barony de Copun paid 13s. 4d.
It appears that a roll, of the date of 1278, remains in the tower, containing an account of the different lands and tenements in the county of Northumberland which were, at that time, charged with the repairs and support of some edifices within this Castle.— Wallis' Northumb. vol. ii. page 236. In 1305, there was paid annually, for the manor of Langley, 8s. 6d. cornage to this Castle; and for the manor of Mitford, in 1317, the sum of 31s. 4d. for cornage. In 1340, the manor of Byker was held of the king, by the service, among others, of the yearly payment of £10, for castle-ward to this Castle. There was also paid, in 1360, for lands in the village of Cramlington, 3s. 6d. yearly, for ward to the Castle of Newcastle.
In 1225, Hugh de Bolbec and Roger de Merley, by a special precept from the king, were acquitted from their service of castle-guard at Newcastle upon Tyne, having been with the king in his army at Bedford.
In 1229, there was a determination that neither the king, nor the keeper of the king's Castle at Newcastle upon Tyne, had a right to take a prize of an hundred herrings for each boat and vessel coming up to that town, and that henceforth they should not be claimed.
Besides these rents, there were houses, yards, gardens, &c. which paid to it. From a note in Grey's MSS. mentioned by Brand, the King's Meadows, an island in the middle of the Tyne, belonged to this Castle; to which also the Castle Moor and Castle Field were anciently annexed, but which, in 1357, were granted by the crown to the corporation of the town. The liberties and privileges of the Castle extended northward to the river Tweed, and southward to the river of Tees.
Castle-guard rents were restrained by an act of parliament in the reign of Henry VIII. and finally annihilated, with the tenure by knight's service, in the time of Charles II. Cornage, a tenure which was to wind a horn when the Scots or other enemies entered the land, in order to warn the king's subjects. It was a species of grand serjeantry.—Blackstone's Comm. book ii. c. 5.
5 After the Conquest, the governors of castles were empowered to dispense the laws, and administer justice. These, having the power of life and death, were not contented with the legal exercise of that power, but extended their dominions over property, and extorted whatever they thought necessary from those who dwelt in their jurisdictions. In process of time, the oppressions of these lords of castles became so grievous, that a law was made for the demolition of many, and for the due regulation of the rest. On the accession of Henry II. to the throne, a stop was put to the erection of castles, except for national defence; and then, if not before, castle-guard became part of the knight's service, by which the barons held their estates. This service was afterwards commuted for annual rent, which was most rigorously exacted by the officers appointed to collect it. The care of the royal castles was generally committed to some trusty person, who seems to have been indifferently styled governor and constable. Sometimes they were placed in the care of the sheriffs, who often converted them into prisons.
In 1213, William Earl of Warren had the Castle of Newcastle upon Tyne committed to his trust.
1224, William Briwere was constituted governor.
1225, John, son of Robert (Clavering), sheriff of Northumberland, was governor.
1228, Brian, son of Alan, sheriff of Northumberland, was governor.
1237, Hugh de Bolbec, ditto, was ditto.
1266, Robert de Lisle was made governor by the rebellious barons.
1299, Alan de Molton occurs as porter of this castle.
1313, From this year to 1336, the sheriffs mentioned in the text.
1341, Lord John Nevil occurs as captain of this castle.
1342, William de Felton was sheriff and governor of this castle.
1346, Robert Lord Bertram occurs as sheriff and governor.
1351, the king appointed William de Watford keeper of the gate of this Castle, with the same salary that Nicholas de Ufton deceased had, and his predecessors, in that office. John de Coupeland, sheriff, held David Brus prisoner in this castle.
1359, Adam de Jesmont.
1361, Thomas Rote was invested with the custody of the gaol and the gate of this Castle.
1362, Henry del Strother was sheriff and governor, and kept the Scotch hostages in the Castle.
1363, Roger de Wyderington was sheriff and governor. He is commanded to deliver Thomas del Hay to his successor.
1364, Richard de Horsley was sheriff and governor.
1377, Parliament was petitioned to repair this Castle, and to appoint a proper constable to reside therein.
1384, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, held the sheriffalty of the county and governorship of the Castle.
1390, Sir Ralph Eure was sheriff and governor of the Castle.
1475, Henry Earl of Northumberland was made sheriff, and constable and porter of Newcastle upon Tyne.
1482, Richard Duke of Gloucester obtained the wardenship of this Castle, the fee-farms of Newcastle upon Tyne, &c.
1487, William Case, Esq. was made constable of the Castle during life.
1494, Roger Fenwick, Esq. was made constable, the office being vacant by the death of Sir Robert Multon, Knt. with the wages and fees of £20 per annum out of the revenues of the county of Northumberland, with other emoluments. After this, no other letters patent of the office of constable occur, from which it is inferred that the castle was committed to the custody of the sheriff of Northumberland.
About the year 1664, Lord Gerard, afterwards Earl of Macclesfield, petitioned for a grant of the constableship of this Castle; but that was found in no ways necessary for his majesty's service,
The manor of Byker was held by grand serjeancy, and, besides paying castle-guard, by carrying the king's writs between the rivers Tyne and Coquet, and levying castle-ward, cornage, and other rents, issues, fines, and amercements, belonging to the Castle of Newcastle. Hence the lord of this manor was "bailiff by inheritance of the said Castle."—Bourne, p. 120.
6 "Giles Wallys, jailor of the high castel," buried October 25, 1614. "Gilbert Heron, gent. prisoner in the high castle, buried Aug. 23, 1587."—St. Nicholas' Register. In the Register, November 21, 1625, a child is mentioned as having been begotten "in the jall of the hie castell."
7 Bourne, p. 121. Stevenson was a page of the bed-chamber.
8 Gardiner says that Stevenson died in October, 1640, in debt £2500, and left Mr. Auditor Darel his executor, who was also one of his principal creditors. He proceeds:—"The county of Northumberland is kept from having a free passage to the assizes by the mayor and burgesses, who shut the gates, which is the right passage; and at such gates which be open, the people of Northumberland, coming to do their service at the assizes holden for that county, are arrested and cast into prison by Newcastle, where none can bail them but burgesses of Newcastle, and often thereby such people have their causes overthrown by such restrainment."—England's Grievance, chap. xv.
A survey of this Castle was taken in 1649. The Aubone MS. quoted by Brand, says that the Castle, and certain lands and houses pretended to be thereto belonging, were thereby valued at £2000, 3s. 4d. and returned to the trustees for sale of the king's lands. But upon solemn debate, the right of the corporation of Newcastle was allowed to their ancient possessions, which did not belong, as was pretended, to this Castle. In consequence of which determination, an order was sent down, April 25, 1650, for annulling and vacating the said survey.
9 "Indenture made the 17th of June, 1st of James II. 1685, between the king, and mayor, and burgesses, granting the Old Castle scite, herbage, and all its appurtenances within and without; and also those lands, closes of meadow, or pasture, named the Castle Fields, and Fyrth, and their appurtenances, lying in the county of Northumberland, or county of the town of Newcastle, being parcel of the ancient possessions of the crown, demised by James I. to Alexander Stephenson, Esq. by patent, dated the 14th of April in his 17 year, for fifty years, under the yearly rent of forty shillings, and since demised by Charles II. to Charles Lord Gerard, now Earl of Macclesfield, by patent, dated the 13th of August in the 16th year of his reign, from the end of Stephenson's grant to the end of ninety nine years, if he, the said lord, or his sons, should so long live under the like rent of forty shillings excepting, and reserving to the king, &c. the rents called the castle-ward rents, amounting to thirty two pounds yearly. And that great hall, called the Moothall, used for assizes and ordering matters relating the county of Northumberland, and all other usual places within or without, where the people of Northumberland do use to come, reside, and be for such like matters. And also except, all those lower places within the Castle, now used for the common prison and gaol, by the sheriff of Northumberland, To have and to hold from the determination of the aforesaid grants, during the term of thirty one years, yielding and paying as well during the Earl of Macclesfield's grant, as during the said term of thirty one years one hundred chaldron of sea coal, London measure, in the pool, or common place of unloading coals, in the port of London, on, or before the first day of August, yearly to Charles Fox, Esq. treasurer, of Chelsea Hospital, or his deputy, or their successors. The mayor and burgesses to repair, cleanse, scour and amend the walls, fences, &c. and surrender up the premises on the expiration, or forfeiture, of the said lease. And these presents further witness that the king for the benefit of the mayor and burgesses, and better government of the town, and of those persons residing within the precincts and liberties of the said Castle, which never yet were subject to the jurisdiction of the said town, which hath created great inconveniencies. His highness grants, constitutes, and declares that the Castle, and all, and singular the bounds, limits, meets, precincts, liberties, and privileges (except as before excepted) from henceforth be, and from time to time for ever hereafter, shall be esteemed, reputed, taken, and known as part, and parcel, and member of the said town, and county of Newcastle upon Tyne, and from henceforth and for ever hereafter shall be esteemed, reputed, deemed, and known to be wholly separated, divided, taken, and exempted from, and out of the said county of Northumberland, and from all jurisdiction and privilege thereof, and all the said Castle and persons inhabiting, residing, or being now, or at all times hereafter be under the legal rule, jurisdiction, government, correction, punishment, and regulation of the said mayor and burgesses, and their successors, as other members of the said corporation are, and ought to be, and no otherwise. And lastly, covenants and grants in case of any defeat, or question, should happen on the validity of these presents, he will be graciously pleased to make such further assurances and confirmation, of the premises granted as by the counsel of the mayor and burgesses shall be desired, and as by the attorney, or solicitor general of his majesty, shall be approved, provided that if the mayor and burgesses, or their successors, do not enrol or cause to be enrolled, the presents with his majesty's auditor of the county of Northumberland, within the space of six months next ensuing, then this present grant, and demise, and every thing therein contained, shall be void and of none effect."
The Earl of Macclesfield held the Castle Garth during his own life, and those of Charles and Fitton Gerard, his sons. The earl died without issue, November 5, 1701, when the above grant to the town of Newcastle for 31 years commenced.
10 The charter of the 1st of Henry IV. which constituted the town of Newcastle a county of itself, does not seem to have included the Castle. The castle of Chester, by charter, belongs to the county of Chester, and not to the county of the city. Colchester Castle is independent of the corporation. The castle of Norwich and the castle of Worcester are not under the corporations of the cities in which they stand; and the Tower of London is exempted from the city jurisdiction.
11 "Dec. 14, 1733. This day se'nnight the flying man flew from the top of the Castle into Baily-Gate; and after that he made an ass fly down, by which several accidents happened—for the weights tied to the ass's legs knocked down several, bruised others in a violent manner, and killed a girl on the spot."—Newcastle Courant.
12 In this grant, the Castle Garth is said to be in the county of Northumberland—the following exceptions occur:—"Excepting nevertheless, and always reserving out of this our present grant and demise all that strong building there used for a common gaol or prison for the said county of Northumberland; and also excepting and reserving the great hall commonly called the Moot-Hall, used for the justices of assize, sessions and gaol-deliuery, for the keeping of assize and sessions for the said county, and all other buildings and offices to the same usually belonging or appertaining."—"And also excepting and always reserving out of this our grant or demise, all free rents, castle guard rents, and other rents belonging to our honor of the said old castle."—The above grant expired in the month of July, 1786.
13 The following occurs in the Newcastle Courant:—"February 19, 1756, several very curious fireworks were played off from this Castle on account of the marriage of the daughter of the Right Honourable Lord Ravensworth to the Earl of Euston."
14 "A Wind-Mill in the centre of the Town of Newcastle.—To be let, the Old Castle in the CastleGarth, upon which, with the greatest convenience and advantage, may be erected a Wind-Mill, for the purpose of grinding Corn, and Bolting flour, or making Oil, &c. There is an exceeding good Spring of Water within the Castle, which renders it a very eligible situation for a Brewery, or any Manufactory that requires a constant supply of water. The proprietor, upon proper terms, will be at a considerable part of the expense, Enquire of Mr. Fryer, in Westgate-street, Newcastle.—Sept. 14, 1782."
15 From a view of the Castle Garth, and return made under the hands and seals of Sir William Blackett, Sir Ralph Jennison, and others, in the year 1685, the rental of the premises by building and improvements amounted to £149, 1s. 8d. per annum: but it was alleged that it rose to that height by strangers and fugitives harbouring there, in a place not subject to the government of the town. The surveyor-general, in a report to the common council, dated December 22, 1735, states the annual value of the premises at £119, 15s. clear of taxes and repairs. In the proposals of sale, printed in 1779, the nett rent of the property is stated at £242, 16s. per annum.
The Castle-yard was long considered a separate township, and was not united to the parish of St. Nicholas until the year 1768. By the books of the township, 77 inhabitants were, in 1724, assessed to the amount of £1, 9s. 6d. In 1743, the amount of the rental is stated at £176, and the rate collected at £12, 16s. 9½d. In 1744, the rental was £192, and the rate £14, 15s. 6d. The rental, in 1747, was £217, and the rate £15, 4s. 7½d.; but in 1767–8, the rental had risen to £658, and the rate to £49, 7s. 9d. The township paid for sweeping the Garth, and for keeping a public necessary in repair. In 1759–60, there was paid for lamps £1, 10s. The lamps in the town were not lighted until the year 1763.
From the year 1750 to the end of the Castle Garth accounts, a legacy of £2 per annum appears to have been received. It was paid by the Rev. Edward Aitkin, minister of the Castle Garth meeting-house; but what became of this legacy after the year 1767 does not appear.
16 On the top of the keep, "one is surprised," says Brand, "to find a little artificial garden, producing apple-trees, rose-bushes, &c." This lofty garden, confined to the breadth of the wall, was in too terrific a situation to produce feelings of security or comfort in a casual visitor.
17 On May 7, 1812, being Ascension-day, a melancholy accident happened, on the return of the aquatic party from Shields to Newcastle in the morning. As John Robson, a mason, one of the party who were discharging the cannon on the top of the old Castle, was in the act of reloading a gun, owing to some accident, the cartridge which he was ramming down unfortunately exploded, by which his right hand was blown off, and his body fell over the battlements of the Castle, and was dashed to pieces. Since this time, a party of soldiers from the barracks has always been employed in firing the guns.
18 The erection of castellated structures, for defending the state against foreign and factious assailants, occupied the peculiar attention of king William I. and his successor. Amongst other persons whom the Conqueror employed and consulted in the advancement of his favourite plan, was Gundulph, bishop of Rochester, whose architectural genius is impressively displayed in the castle of Rochester, which was commenced about the year 1088. The New Castle upon Tyne was erected upon the improved principles of this celebrated prelate. Similar specimens remain at Canterbury, Dover, Ludlow, Richmond in Yorkshire, and Hedingham in Essex.—Archæologia, vol. vi. p. 295, seq. Britton's Architect. Antiq. vol. iii. pp. 27, 28.
19 Machicolations have been erected over this portal. Such works of defence are described by Grose to consist of "small projections over gates, supported by brackets, having open intervals at the bottom, through which melted lead and stones were thrown down on the heads of the assailants; and likewise large weights, fastened to ropes or chains, by which, after they had taken effect, they were retracted by the besieged."— Pref. to the Antiq. of England and Wales.
20 The Normans, it is believed, were the first that used portcullises in England. The nature of this machine is almost too well known for repetition; but it may be observed that the herse, or portcullis, was a strong grating of timber, fenced with iron, and made to slide up and down in a groove of solid stone-work, within the arch of the portal. The bottom was furnished with sharp iron spikes, designed to strike into the ground, for the sake of greater firmness and solidity, and also to break or destroy whatever should be under it, when it was let fall. The groove in which it rested was always contrived so deep in the stone-work, that it could not be removed by assailants without pulling down the whole wall.—Archæol, vol. iv. p. 370.
21 Mr. King, in his Essay on Ancient Castles, says, (Archæol. vol. iv. p. 378,) "These great rooms were undoubtedly hung with arras."
22 The benevolent Howard observes, that, during the assizes at Newcastle, the county prisoners are, "men and women, confined together seven or eight nights, in a dirty, damp dungeon, six steps in the old Castle, which, having no roof, in a wet season the water is some inches deep. The felons are chained to rings in the wall."—State of the Prisons, p. 425. At this time, and for many years afterwards, the prisoners were, on the Assize Sunday, shewn to the public, like wild beasts! The vulgar and curious visitors paid sixpence each for admission.
23 Brand remarks, that there is a very observable window in this place, with an arch turned inside, to repel missile weapons. This appears to have been an usual contrivance in ancient castles. "Windows," says King, "were so contrived that it was almost impossible for any weapon to be shot into the room, so as to do any hurt; for if it went at all ascending, it would strike against a low arch, purposely contrived over every window, and could not enter the room at all."
24 It is doubted whether there has been a dungeon in this keep, as no traces of one can be discovered at present. The dungeon of ancient castles was a dreary subterranean cell, entered by a square hole at the top, and was, by the king's authority, a privileged prison. It is not probable that a royal castle of such importance as this would be destitute of the usual prison for the incarceration of offenders. Probably it might be found below the smaller tower which adjoins the keep; for such is the situation of the dungeon in the castle of Rochester. Brand says there is a place on the ground-floor, "into which, if water be poured in the largest quantities, it immediately disappears." He adds, "It probably communicates with one of the large drains." May it not be supposed, with equal probability, to communicate with the old dungeon? Some imagine that the small apartment on the north side of the ground-floor, long used as an ice-house, was anciently the dungeon.
25 Anglo-Saxon castles usually consisted of a lofty round tower-keep, ascended by a direct flight of steps. The Normans made such structures square, larger, the walls more massive, and the interior more complex and artificial; besides having a side-long ascent, strongly defended. They had three stories: the lowest, the keep for stores; the second for a general room; and the upper, or Solarium, for the chief officers. Portcullises, protected loop-holes, wells concealed in the walls, and galleries of communication, were judicious devices introduced in the improved style adopted in the erection of this fortress; but the general characteristics are strength and simplicity.—Archæol. vol. vi. p. 295.
On this subject, the late Mr. Burdon, who had paid considerable attention to architectural antiquities, expressed himself thus:—"The distinguishing mark of every Norman fortress is its plainness. A mere square or round tower, without any external ornament, was the style of building constructed by our great Conqueror, to keep down the unsubdued spirit of his Anglo-Saxon subjects; and, of these, the most solid and complete was that built by his son Robert, at Monkchester, on the scite of the old Roman fortress, and thence called the New Castle. Whoever has superintended the repair and ornaments now making in the old Castle, has shewn neither taste nor knowledge; for the towers and battlements which are lately built are totally different from the rest of the building. The Normans, I have said before, had neither: they were introduced into this country by Edward the First, from the East, and are, at the least, near 200 years later than the date of this Castle, which was completed in 1083, and Edward returned to England 1273. If any man will produce me the example of a castle, built in England, before this period, with towers, machicolations, and battlements, I will acknowledge that I have unjustly taxed the superintendant of these repairs with ignorance; if not, he must submit to the charge: but I doubt he cannot so easily remove the excrescences. Another frightful inconsistency has been committed in regard to this venerable ruin, by placing cannon upon a building which was erected about 400 years before cannon were invented. One poor man has lost his life by it already, so that the authors of it have not only offended against propriety, but humanity. As an account of this building, with elegant engravings, will shortly be published by Mr. Britton, the first antiquarian in England, I feel shame that he should have an opportunity of witnessing and exposing the ignorance of my townsmen."—Tyne Mercury, Aug. 9, 1812.
26 Thomas Ayre, the first warden, was, on his death, succeeded by James Shipley. The salary is £10 per annum; but the office at present is a sinecure. On August 6, 1812, a hand-bill was published, announcing that "the ancient Castle of Newcastle was to be seen, &c.—Admittance One Shilling!" Part of the exhibition consisted of an antique carved pulpit, book-chest, and some other curious relics, taken from St. Nicholas' church in 1783. The pulpit was fitted up in the chapel of the Castle; but this mockery of the chaste and beautiful architecture of the place has very properly been removed.
27 The first Christian Romans constructed their coffins in a similar rude manner, out of numerous slabs of stone. The improvement of forming coffins out of one stone, by the labour of the mallet and tool, was afterwards adopted by the affluent. That these are funereal deposits of the Romans, seems confirmed by the circumstance of an urn having been discovered in the same place: but then it must be acknowledged that the Romans usually interred the dead on a road side, in the vicinity of their stations, and not within them.— Gough's Sepul. Monu. part 1, p. 27. It may here be observed, that the earth on the south side of the Castle has been removed to the depth of about five feet, and the base is now exposed in a fine state of preservation.
28 In a deed, dated November 2, 1615, an house situated in the street at the head of the Long Stairs, is described to stand in a street called "the Castle Mote." In the deed of another tenement near the Castle Stairs, dated 16th Charles II. the premises are said on the south to bounder on the Close, and on the north to extend to the "High-Castle-Moote."
29 Anciently the moats round our castles were crossed by bridges of stone. Draw-bridges were a refinement in fortification, which only tardily grew into use.
30 Bourne gives the following account of the Castle-yard, from a manuscript in his possession:—"The way thro' the yard begins at the Castle-yate, and when I was young, there was no houses in it but the house of one Thomas Southern, and the house of one Green; these houses were near the gate before you came into the Castle-yard; and there was in the garth a house, wherein the gaoler of the Castle dwelt, and a house wherein William Robinson dwelt, who was Deputy Herrald under Norroy, King at Arms. This man wrote in a book the Arms of all the mayors of this town, from Laurentius Acton, until his time. And when I was chamberlain of the town, which was about the time of Sir Nicholas Cole's being mayor in the year 1640, it was then in the Town's Chamber; when Trollop built the Town-court, he borrow'd it, but would never restore it. These were all the houses at that time; but since then Mr. Bulmer, he took a garth behind his house in the Side, and built a stable in it, and had a garden in it; and also George Hayroy took from thence to the Moat-hall, and built houses upon it: he was a butcher, but not a freeman, and these took their lands and houses of Alexander Stephenson, a Scottish man. * * This man began to build the Castle-gate, but it was finished by one John Pickle, who made it in the fashion it is now, and kept a tavern in it; and then one Jordan a Scotsman and Sword-kipper, built the house on the south-side of the gate, and lived in it; and Thomas Reed, a Scotch pedlar, took a shop in the north-side of the gate. At present there are a good many shops and houses belonging to it, in and about it." The building of the Castle-gate, here mentioned, must refer to its reparation and conversion into dwelling-houses.
31 Thomas Watson, who was executed for murder, August 5, 1790, was the last felon confined in this house. Brand writes, "I know not which is the house which Bourne says was anciently the county-gaol, and underneath which, he adds, 'it is reported there is a vault which leads to the Castle.'—'There is indeed a large door,' he continues, 'still to be seen, which was perhaps the entrance into it; and Mr. George Grey, the present possessor, told me that it was certainly so because he had put down through his own floor a bailiff's rod, to the very end, and could find no bottom.'" Probably the house that Bourne alludes to is the south postern, which is still called the vault, and between which and the Castle there was, according to tradition, a subterraneous passage. The house formerly occupied by the gaoler was certainly in a different place; for, in the survey made in 1649, it is described:—"All that cottage or tenement of stone and dawbing scituate on the south side of the Castle Garth within the inner wall and adjoining thereunto conteyning one lowe roome with a chamber and a shedd where a smith now keepes a shopp now in the tenure or occupacion of Bartholomew Herle gaeler of the prison for Northumberland and is now worth per annum (if it might be let) 50s. and for the same is payd to the crowne yearly by the sheriffe of Northumberland 5s. But by what graunte the sheriff holds it wee cannot be informed And therefore wee conceiving it to bee a place of publique office and depending upon the Moote Hall doe only incerte the ancient rent being 5 shillinges."
32 Blount says the places where moot cases were argued was anciently called a moot-hall. Brand is not satisfied with this etymology for the Moot Hall of the Castle. As mota was sometimes used for the fortress or castle itself, he conjectures that Moot Hall means no more than the "Hall of the Castle."