Chateau Nuorgk, Lin Gorge, Almondsey
This French-style castle is on a crag on the Almondsey side of the Lin Gorge, midway between Craglin and Pain castles on the Estalian side. It was an older fortification, built to defend the city of Nuorgk* from the north (curtain wall and lower parts of the round towers and gatehouse), but was extensively enlarged and fancied up by Yargo Feyn, sixth Earl of Nuorgk, in the 1780s, after he had spent some years in France. The main feature is the huge keep tower. Although practically impregnable because of its location, it is in effect a showcase, meant to impress rather than intimidate, being visible for miles in all directions. Chateau Nuorgk remains the country retreat of the Earls.
View from the South
(click on image to enlarge)
In general, the castle itself is very large when the outer ward is included (here are the outbuildings, a small farm, and the formal garden). The chateau itself is a small courtyard, with a drum-towered gatehouse, two large round towers, and a bath-house and servants' building within the curtain wall. Dominating the entire inner ward is the keep tower, which is a fully equipped manor house. A brief description of the castle:
- Northwest Tower: The lower floors of this tower house the courtyard garrison, the mid-floors some upper servants (steward, valet, and secretary), and the top, the lord's study. At parapet level there is a conservatory, established by a Victorian Earl who was an expert on orchids.
- Servants' House: Lower-level servants (kitchen maids, groundsmen, etc.) inhabit the lower three floors; above this is the wall-walk guard and a watch tower covering the northern approach.
- Bath-house: Has a WC, a bathtub, and a hot-water pool; there are many other baths and privies in the castle (more than usual for this sort of structure), but the bath-house is common to all residents.
- Gatehouse: Ground floor contains a guard room, the porter's lodge, and the gate passage, which is protected by a portcullis and a drawbridge; a coal storage shed is between the gatehouse and the southeast tower -- the main fuel for the castle is coal, since wood is very scarce in this part of the country. The next four floors are occupied by the garrison. Officers occupy the fifth floor, and the top contains an armory and watch tower.
- Southeast Tower: There is a vaulted prison in the basement, once used for important political opponents but now a 'museum' for children; over it is a chamber for warders (now part of the museum). The three floors above that are the official guest quarters. The castellan ('Marshall General') lives on the fifth floor. On the sixth is the 'War Room', or the archives; it is also the strategy room for use during a siege. Uppermost is the trophy room, with military regalia, old weapons, and mementos of noted events.
- Ground Floor: Cellars and storage; also a 'domestic' guard room.
- First Floor: Kitchen, pantry, cutlery & dishes, and the Retainers' Great Hall and sitting room. The cook inhabits the room in the northeast tower.
- Second Floor: The Great Hall (two stories tall, with a musicians' gallery), Solar, and Privy Court, where the Earl performs official functions. There is also a card room, an anteroom, a cloak room, and a smoking parlor, from which there is a passage to the guest quarters in the southeast tower.
- Third Floor: Upper part of Great Hall, Library, Chapel (the Earls are Unitarian Christian). There is a music room for live performing, a museum hall exhibiting weapons and armor, and a bedroom for the minister or priest.
- Fourth Floor: Master bedroom and other family bedrooms, with a private drawing room. The Long Gallery contains valuable works of art obtained by the Sixth Earl when he lived in Europe. Note the 'secret' stairway, which goes down under the castle to a cave that leads to the River Lin; this emergency exit was part of the original castle. The butler inhabits the room in the northeast tower.
- Fifth Floor: The northwest part of this level houses the Infirmary. Also on this floor is the children's wing (used for that when there are any), a suite for the Earl's mother (if he has one living, otherwise for his misstress), and secondary bedrooms for grown children and the like.
- Top Floor: The Attic for storing old furniture, etc., the Garrett for miscellaneous use, a Game room (darts, pool, table tennis, whatever is in vogue), two more bedrooms, and a Paint/Sculpture studio for members of the family who are artistically inclined. Access to the Earl's private office and study is at the northwest. At this level, along the south side, are the upper defences, and the main watch tower.
- Roof Level: The Conservatory (in the northwest tower) and a Cap House, originally a guard room overlooking the courtyard, but now a 'summer' sitting room. Another level of the watch tower is also here as is the southern parapet walk.
The castle is located atop a 600-foot high crag (measured from the surface of the River Lin). The crag is a steep and treeless bald rock, with a precipitous cliff along the river side, except on the east side where there is a saddle or arete stretching several hundred yards to a range of hills. Outside the main castle, with its bridged ditch cut out of the rock, is an outer ward that contains the stables and other outbuildings -- even a garden and a vegetable farm; this walled but otherwise undefended area extends for nearly 4 acres. The gravelled roadway eventually winds its way down to Nuorgk, approximately six miles away, through the hills.
* Click here for a look at a plan of the city of Nuorgk, one of the three showcase cities of north central Almondsey.
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