Interior of the Curfew Tower
W. A. Delamotte
9.8 x 7.3 cm, vignetted
Seventh Delamotte illustration for W. Harrison Ainsworth's Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance, first published in the June 1842 number of Ainsworth's Magazine; Chapter II; volume, p. 15.
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Passage Complemented in Chapter II:
Satisfied with the reply, hedescended, and, opening the door, admitted them into a lofty chamber,the roof of which was composed of stout planks, crossed by heavy oakenrafters, and supported by beams of the same material. On the left asteep ladder-like flight of wooden steps led to an upper room, and froma hole in the roof descended a bell-rope, which was fastened to one of the beams, showing the use to which the chamber was put.
Some further consultation was now held among the party as to thepropriety of leaving the prisoner in this chamber under the guard of thearquebusiers, but it was at last decided against doing so, and the old bellringer being called upon for the keys of the dungeon beneath, he speedily produced them. They then went forth, and descending a flight of stone steps on the left, came to a low strong door, which they unlocked, and obtained admission to a large octangular chamber with a vaulted roof, and deep embrasures terminated by narrow loopholes. The light of a lamp carried by the bellringer showed the dreary extent of the vault, and the enormous thickness of its walls. [Chapter II. "Of Bryan Bowntance, the Host of the Garter; Of the Duke of Shoreditch; Of the Bold Words uttered by Mark Fytton, the Butcher, and how he was cast into the Vault of the Curfew Tower," pp. 14-15]
Other Views by Delamotte of the Curfew Tower
Left: Delamotte's initial external study, Curfew Tower, from Thames Street (Book I, Ch. II). Right: Delamotte captures an action scene, Mark Fytton, the Butcher, Hanging from the Curfew Tower (Book I, tailpiece for Ch. III). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Other Views of the Curfew Tower
- Eastern View of the Curfew Tower
- Vault in the Curfew Tower
- Curfew Tower and other buildings, as proposed to be altered by Wyatville
- Port-hole in the Curfew Tower
- Upper Chamber in the Curfew Tower
- The Castle, from the Brocas
- The Disappearance of Herne in the Curfew Tower
A Brief History of the Curfew Tower, 1227-1863
King Henry III ordered the construction of the Curfew Tower, which derives its name from its bells, between 1227 and 1230 at the extreme western end of the castle's fortifications as part of the new defences following the siege of Windsor during the reign of King John. The D-shaped tower contains a thirteenth-century dungeon, and has some of the oldest masonry in Windsor Castle. Its walls are thirteen feet thick at the base, and rise to a height of one hundred feet. Its position commands the northwest angle of the defences of the castle's lower ward. In 1477, King Edward IV effected the greatest change in its history by allowing the College of St. George to repurpose it as a belfry. At that time, the College had labourers construct an internal timber frame to house the bells and a clock mechanism with an external face. The College's bells and clock have remained in place since the late fifteenth century. Structurally, however, the tower had remained unchanged for centuries, until architect Anthony Salvin (1798-1881), an expert on Mediaeval and Tudor architecture, carried out necessary structural restoration work in 1863.
Salvin’s work included giving the tower a completely new stone face, raising the height of the upper walls and adding a large semi-conical roof modeled on one at Carcassone. The story goes that it was Emperor Napoleon III who suggested this new look while visiting Queen Victoria in 1855. Salvin's alterations gave us the Curfew Tower that we see today, still fulfilling its role as the chapel clock and bell tower, as it has done for over 500 years. ["Image of the Month: The Curfew Tower, College of St. George, Windsor Castle"]
Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.
"Image of the Month: The Curfew Tower." College of St. George, Windsor Castle. https://www.stgeorges-windsor.org/image_of_the_month/the-curfew-tower/
Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.
Plowman-Craven. "Curfew Tower, Windsor Castle." https://www.plowmancraven.co.uk/projects/curfew-tower-windsor-castle/
Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.
William A. Delamotte
Last modified 6 December 2017