The East Gate Hotel, facing the new schools, marks the site of the old entrance to the city hereabouts. It is a recent construction in excellent taste by Mr E. From this point the wall ran on to Merton, and thence to Christ Church. The south wall of the Cathedral chapter house is on the line of the old city wall. The Bastion and Ramparts in New College. City Walls. The south gate spanned S. Cornmarket Street was crossed by S. The gate house of the north gate was used as the town prison. It rejoiced in the name of Bocardo, jestingly so called from a figure in logic; for a man once committed to that form of syllogism could not expect to extricate himself save by special processes.
Old bastions and the line of the ditch are found behind the houses opposite Balliol College.
This name was derived by Wood from Candida Fossa, a ditch with a clear stream running along it. Mr Hurst has suggested a more likely derivation in Camp Ditch. As a street name it reached from the angle of Balliol to Smith Gate. An indication of the old fosse, filled up, is to be found in the broad gravel walk north of the wall near New College. From Bocardo the wall ran towards the Sheldonian Theatre.
A bastion was laid bare in in the north quad of Exeter. Chapel of Our Lady. From Smith Gate the wall returned to New College, and so completed the circuit of the town. A reference to the map will elucidate this bare narration of mine. From what little we know of him, he would appear to have been a typical Norman baron, ruthless, yet superstitious, strong to conquer and strong to hold. He seems to have ruled it in rude soldierly fashion, enforcing order, tripling the taxation of the town and pillaging without scruple the religious houses of the neighbourhood. He had indeed been amply provided for, so far as he himself was concerned, by the Conqueror, chiefly through a marriage with a daughter of Wiggod of Wallingford, who had been cupbearer to Edward the Confessor; but money was needed for the great fortress which was now to be built to hold the town, after the fashion of the Normans, and by holding the town to secure, as we have said, the river.
The walls are eight feet four inches thick at the bottom, though not more than four feet at the top. The doorway, which is some twelve feet from the ground, was on the level of the vallum or wall of fortification, and gave access to the first floor. They had holes for the crossbows, and holes for the pouring down of stones, boiling pitch or oil on to the heads of threatening sappers.
They were probably stored in the top room of the tower, which is windowless. The construction of the staircase of the tower is very peculiar. Under the mound is a very deep well, covered over by a groined chamber of Transitional design. Stern and grim that one remaining fragment of the old Castle stands up against the sky, a landmark that recalls the good government of the Norman kings. But the most romantic episode connected with it occurred amidst the horrors of the time when the weakness and misrule of Stephen, and the endeavours of Matilda to supplant him, had plunged the country into that chaos of pillage and bloodshed from which the Norman rule had hitherto preserved it.
After the death of his son, Henry I. But they elected Stephen of Blois, grandson of the Conqueror, whose chief claim to the Crown, from their point of view, was his weak character. In a Parliament at Oxford he granted a charter with large liberties to the Church, but his weakness and prodigality soon gave the barons opportunities of revolt. Released from the stern control of Henry they began to fortify their castles; in self-defence the great ministers of the late King followed their example.
Stephen seized the Bishops of Salisbury and Lincoln at Oxford, and forced them to surrender their strongholds.
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The West was for her; London and the East supported Stephen. Oxford Castle. They were roused to renew their efforts. Matilda was forced to flee to Oxford, and there she was besieged by Stephen, who had obtained his release. Matilda shut herself up in the Castle and prepared to resist the attacks of the King. But Stephen prosecuted the siege with great vigour; every approach to the Castle was carefully guarded, and after three months the garrison was reduced to the greatest straits.
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Provisions were exhausted; the long-looked-for succour never came; without, Stephen pushed the siege harder than ever. It seemed certain that Matilda must fall into his hands. Her capture would be the signal for the collapse of the rebellion. But just as the end seemed inevitable, Matilda managed to escape in marvellous wise. There had been a heavy fall of snow; so far as the eye could see from the Castle towers the earth was hidden beneath a thick white pall. The river was frozen fast. The difficulty of distinguishing a white object on this white background, and the opportunity of crossing the frozen river by other means than that of the guarded bridge, suggested a last faint chance of escape.
She draped herself in white, and with but one companion stole out of the beleaguered Castle at dead of night, and made her way, unseen, unheard through the friendly snow. Dry-footed she stole across the river, and gradually the noise of the camp faded away into the distance behind her.
For six weary miles she stumbled on through the heavy drifts of snow, until at last she arrived in safety at Wallingford. The bird had flown, and the Castle shortly afterwards surrendered to the baffled King Gesta Stephani. George, and to supply their spiritual needs a new church sprang into existence. It was dedicated to S. Nicholas, and afterwards to S. Thomas a Becket. Of the original church, just opposite the L. Railway Station, part of the chancel remains. The tower is fifteenth century.
The Castle mill is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. The present mill no doubt occupies the same site; its foundations may preserve some of the same masonry as that which is thus recorded to have existed hereabouts before the Conquest. But as the descent of Queen Street from Carfax threatened the Castle, if the town were taken, there was no regular communication made between the Castle and the town. A wooden drawbridge across the deep ditches that defended the Castle led to the town, somewhere near Castle Street. This would be destroyed in time of danger.
No other entrance to the town was allowed on this side. The Church of S.
Peter le Bailly recalls the fact. It was a detached tower, and not part and parcel of the church which stood at the North Gate, as it is now. In the fifteenth century the city wall was extended northwards so as to include the church. The tower is placed just where we should expect to find that the need of fortification was felt. At a later date there was erected a chapel, also dedicated to S.
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Michael, near the South Gate, and with reference to this church and chapel and the Churches of S. The military character of S. Just as the blocked-up archways at the top of the Castle tower once gave access to the wooden galleries which projected from the wall, so this doorway opened on to a lower gallery which guarded the approach to the adjoining gateway. On the south side of the tower you will find traces of another doorway, the base of which was about twelve feet from the level of the ground.