Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 249 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.
style, and even of a period when that style was no longer in its purity.  Possibly, indeed, other parts of the edifice may have been more ancient; such certainly was the “Conqueror’s kitchen,” a singular octagon building, with four tall slender chimneys capped with perforated cones.  This was destroyed many years ago; but Ducarel obtained an original drawing of it, which he has engraved.  Amongst the ruins there is a chimney which perhaps belonged to this building.—­The guard-chamber and barons’ hall are noble rooms:  the former is one hundred and ninety feet in length and ninety in breadth.  You remember how admirably the Lay of the Last Minstrel opens with a description of such a hall, filled with knights, and squires, and pages, and all the accompaniments of feudal state.  I tried, while standing by these walls, to conjure up the same pictures to my imagination, but it was impossible; so desolate and altered was every thing around, and so effectually was the place of baronial assemblage converted into a granary.  The ample fire-place still remains; but, cold and cheerless, it looks as if had been left in mockery of departed splendor and hospitality.  I annex a sketch of it, in which you will also see a few scattered tiles, relics of the magnificent pavement that once covered the floor.

[Illustration:  Fireplace in the Conqueror’s Palace, at Caen]

This pavement has been the subject of much learned discussion; because, if the antiquity of the emblazoned tiles could be established, (which it certainly cannot) we should then have a decisive proof of the use of armorial bearings in the eleventh century.  Nearly the whole of these tiles are now removed.  After the abbey was sold, the workmen entirely destroyed the tiles, breaking them with their pick-axes.  The Abbe de la Rue, however, collected an entire set of them; and others have been preserved by M. Lair, an antiquary of Caen.—­Ducarel thus describes the pavement when perfect:  “The floor is laid with tiles, each near five inches square, baked almost to vitrification.  Eight rows of these tiles, running from east to west, are charged with different coats of arms, said to be those of the families who attended Duke William in his invasion of England.  The intervals between each of these rows are filled up with a kind of tessellated pavement, the middle whereof represents a maze or labyrinth, about ten feet in diameter, and so artfully contrived that were we to suppose a man following all the intricate meanders of its volutes, he could not travel less than a mile before he got from one end to the other.  The remainder of the floor is inlaid with small squares of different colors, placed alternately, and formed into draught or chess-boards, for the amusement of the soldiers while on guard.”

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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