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AN ACCOUNT OF DOVER CASTLE, (Estracted from “ The BEAUTIES OF ENGLAND AND WALES, by
EDWARD WEDLAKE BRAYLEY;")
WITH A WOOD-CUT.
This fortress occupies about thirty-five acres of ground: the hill on which it stands is very steep and rugged on the side of the town and harbour; and towards the sea it is a complete precipice of upwards of three hundred and twenty feet from its basis on the shore. There can be little doubt but that the site of the Castle was once a British hill-fortress, long previous to the invasion of CÆSAR, or to the subsequent conquest of this island by the Roman arms. Some antiquaries assign the foundation of this Castle to CÆSAR himself; and the ancient Pharos, which still remains on the upper part of the Castle-hill, furnishes unquestionable evidence of Roman workmanship. Immediately contiguous to the Pharos, are the ruins of an ancient church, which is generally stated to have been, built by King Lucius in the second century. Whatever may be the fact as to à Christian edifice having been founded here at that early period, the remains of the building are certainly of much later date. During Vom. VI.
the reigns of the Saxon and Norman kings, and for several succeeding centuries, Dover Castle was regarded as 6 the key and barrier of the whole kingdom," and in every civil broil, the possession of this fortress was a first object with the contending powers. HENRY II. rebuilt the Keep on the Norman plan, and otherwise fortified the Castle, so that its strength was materially increased. Louis, the Dauphin, besieged it when he came to assist the discontented Barons; but it was so strenuously defended by the Governor with one hundred and forty soldiers only, that he was obliged to retire with loss. Many alterations in the fortifications were made by different sovereigns till the time of the Civil Wars, when it was wrested from the King, by a merchant named DRAKE, a zealous partizan for the Parliament, who took it by surprise, with the aid of ten or twelve men only. After the terrors of civil commotion had subsided, this strong pile was, for upwards of a century, suffered to moulder into ruins; but the effects of the French revolution, and the many threats of invasion thrown out by the successive rulers of the French empire, have occasioned great alteration in the defences of this coast. It was thought ad. viseable to put Dover Castle into a state of sufficient strength to withstand any attempt to carry it by coup. de-main, or any thing short of a continued siege. The alterations that have been made are but little qualified to afford pleasure to those who venerate the Castle for its antiquity; yet it is still one of the most interesting fortresses in the kingdom.
Dover Castle, in its present state, consists of an immense congeries of almost every kind of fortification which the art of war has contrived in order to
ACCOUNT OF DOVER CASTLE.
make a place impregnable. It may be described as consisting of two courts, a lower one and an upper one, defended by deep, broad, and dry ditches, from which communications with the inner towers have been made by well-like subterraneous passages. The lower court is surrounded by an irregular wall, excepting on the side next the sea, where a considerable part of the cliff, with the remainder of the wall, was thrown down by an earthquake, which happened on the 6th of April, 1680. This wall is called the curtain, and is flanked, at unequal distances, by a variety of towers of different shapes, semi-circular, square, polygonal, &c. These are the workmanship of different ages : the oldest of them, which is on the eastern side of the Castle, is said to have been built by EARL GOODWIN, and it still bears his name; though this, as well as most of the others, has been much altered since its original erection. Nine of the other towers are stated to have been built in the Norman times'; the gaol for debtors is situated in one of them, called Chilham Tower. The ascent from the lower court is pretty steep, and, winding round towards the south, it leads to a second bridge and gate, which form an entrance to the upper court. This, like the lower one, is surrounded by a strong wall, and various towers; near the centre stands the spacious Keep, erected in the first years of Henry III. This noble tower is still in fine preservation, and is now used as a magazine, the roof having been made bomb-proof, for additional security. The grand apartments were on the third story: the vestibule below communicates with an apartment which appears to have been the Chapel, embellished with Norman arches and sculptured mouldings and capitals: below it is the dungeon.