Almondsey


Quadro Castle, Estalia

This is the oldest 'castle' in Estalia. There are a number of prehistoric hill forts and the like, some even re-used in later times, but Quadro was actually custom-built in a virgin location in the middle of the North Estalian moors in the 1150's as a true castle for Earl Quadro the Viking. He had gone off as a youth to sea, where he joined up with royal Norwegian freebooters. A good friend was Kolbein Hruga of Orkney, whose castle on the Isle of Wyre was very much admired -- nobody else in that society, or very few, had such a stone stronghold as that. By any later standards this is a laughable building, although strongly defended by two concentric walls and ditches and with a central keep tower. One of the later Dukes of North Estalia refurbished it as a hunting lodge in the 17th Century, but it has never been the seat of that family since Quadro's grandsons were ennobled about 50 years after its construction.

Ground Floor.
This is a very small castle (inner area measures less than 60 feet on a side). Note the double-ditch defensive works, the inner one being clay-lined to hold water, as there is no well in the castle, although there is a cistern in the keep that holds rainwater drained from the roofs. The gatehouse was built in the 17th Century, at the same time the great hall, kitchen, and retainers' hall were redone (they were originally wooden structures). There are two portcullises in the entrance passage. The gatehouse holds the garrison. External stairs on either side of the gatehouse lead to the upper stories; underneath the gatehouse is a low and dismal vaulted cellar reached by trapdoor. A garderobe tower, drained by overflow from the moat, was also built on the site of what must have originally been something similar -- as it would make no sense to discharge sewage into the water supply. There is a very narrow L-shaped courtyard. The keep has its own staircase entrance, although there is also access via the kitchen. There is, however, a stockaded outer ward holding accommodation for the servants, stables, barn, bakehouse, brewery, etc., all timber-framed buildings with plaster and wattle-and-daub infilling.

Second Story.
The outer wall has a wooden fighting platform along the top (a 'hoarding'), accessed from the garrison guard room (in which there are two 'murder holes' overlying that part of the gate passage between the two portcullises); the upper part of the gatehouse, the barracks, is reached by an internal wooden staircase. The Lord's hall is on this stage of the keep, entered via the external stair, which also opens into a reception anteroom, with entries to two garderobes, over the retainers' hall. Over the great hall, built into the garrett floor, is the solar or main withdrawing room. Access to the other floors of the keep is by straight mural stairs enclosed in the thickness of the wall. Before the remodelling in the 17th-Century there were no fireplaces except presumably one in the kitchen (not the current one with its oven) and the fireplace in the Lord's Hall of the keep. And in fact very few windows or other comforts -- it was when built a very dismal place.

Third Story.
The top floor of the gatehouse is the garrison barrack room, with entries to two sections of the inner wall parapet (also to an externally accessed garderobe). The sitting room wing and the solar/great hall chimney block the wall-walk making it non-contiguous, although it presumably was continuous in the earliest phase of the castle. The western parapet serves as a private promenade for the lord of the castle. The Lord's Chamber was his primary seat of 'business' and other activities, with the sitting room being added later for more comfort and privacy.

Top Floors.
All sleeping quarters, except for the garrison in the gatehouse, were in the outer ward, the only other bed chamber being the Lord's Bedroom (he may have housed some personal servants in the garret). It is no wonder that this ancient castle has become semi-derelict except when used as a hunting lodge by the current Duke of North Estalia. There are five separate sections of parapet, and a caphouse, accessed from the unheated garret. At the three other corners of the keep there are obelisk-like turrets that have no function apart from decoration.


Estalia