Penchester when he embattled the gate-house also built the
existing bridge and now ruined barbican before it. The latter consisted of
two thick walls of masonry on either hand and was closed to the north by
great wooden gates overhung by machicolations. Each of the side walls
could be ascended by small flights of steps leading to the machicolation
platform. The bridge walls were high enough to protect a man on horseback.
Further north at the outer moat was some other defensive work, but of that
only trifling and inexplicable foundations remain.
Amongst the fragments of old work which I have recovered in
excavation or out of the old walls is a bit of a sculptured corbel of the
thirteenth century, and a portion of a deep hood-moulding of the same
date, both possibly from the inside face of one of the destroyed windows
in the west side of the banqueting hail. A jamb of one of these windows
still exists smothered in later work. A fragment of a small late-Norman
window jamb, elaborately adorned with a nail-head moulding retaining
traces of colour, was also found in the soil of the court. I have no idea
whence it came.
Stephen of Penchester died at Easter 1299, and was
has elicited from the author a letter containing further
remarks, which are too important to omit—" I find for quite certain
that (I.) the room over the gate house and the upstairs room of the
Avelina wing are earlier than Penchester. Both were of the same height and
were lower till Penchester raised them. In both Penchester cut off the
ends (which still exist) of the corbels which supported the lower roof.
Both contain re-used Norman stones. Hence the bulk of the gate house and
the bulk of the Avelina wing are of the same date. It is only the
angle-room at N.W. corner that seems to have been much altered, the
section of the N. wall being this—much thicker for ground than first
floor." (Here follows a section shewing a deep interior off-set, on
which the joists of the first floor rest.) "(II.) The gate house had
a drawbridge before Penchester. Penchester built the barbican which made
drawbridge useless. Hence that moat must have existed before Penchester.
. . . Of course, if it could be shewn that that Cobham (or a
Cobham) built the barbican, then P. might have arranged the gate house and
made the moat. But this is improbable. A drawbridge was common to every
old manor house and the moat was more essential at the gate than anywhere.
As the upper-gate. house room is Avelina the ground floor must be. Also
Penchester in 1282 would not have built from the ground level such a weak
gate-house as this." Perhaps the puzzle presented by the relation of
the inner moat to the Avelina garden-wall, which crosses it at two points,
may be explained by the possibility that the drawbridge and an inner moat
were made in the interval between Avelina and Penchester.—Ed.