Almondsey


The Earl's Palace at Tsilvor, Estalia

Tsilvor is the county town of South Poggit, and a major fishing port. On a promontory overlooking the sea and the mouth of the River Swill, just above the town, is the fortified palace of the Earl of Poggit. It was built around the year 1600 to a design by a Scottish architect called McTavish (we know nothing else about him), and except for furnishings has changed very little since then.

Description. The building is in the style of a typical Scottish hall castle of the period, with a round protective tower and a simple long building with the principal rooms set out in a linear fashion. Another tower block at the north end contains the Earl's private quarters. There is a 'barmkin' or enclosed courtyard around the precinct which used to contain service buildings (bakery, stable, brewhouse, etc.), which were torn down in the 1760's to make a formal garden -- all the ancillary buildings are now located in a depression below the castle to the east. One noted feature of the barmkin wall is its wooden hoarding, or roofed fighting gallery, at parapet level. There is only one entrance to the castle, a simple gateway with two doors (the outer made of iron), into a defended barbican that contains the guardrooms.

Great Hall range. Above the gate is a mural wall passage containing gunloops. Another guard tower is sited at the north end, from which the hoarding is accessed. Then there is the most prominent feature of the building, the great round tower, which is six stories tall with a conical roof; it housed both the servants and the garrison. The floor levels differ from those of the rest of the structure, the rooms being generally lower, so there is a separate spiral staircase serving it. At basement level, slightly below the courtyard, is a series of four vaulted cellars, entered from the kitchen and from the barmkin. There is only one entry to the main range, and it is surprising that additional ones were never inserted later -- this is from the barbican, not from the barmkin/garden! It leads into an anteroom that inelegantly serves not only the great hall, but the kitchen, cellars, and garrison tower. In the 18th Century, a very pompous and officious chamberlain named Sallyfield, according to local history, held court in this room all his waking hours for something like 55 years. A garderobe (privy) in the north face of the tower next to its stair is provided in the same location on every floor, an unusually considerate gesture for the times. The kitchen is provided with a huge open fireplace -- in fact is entered via the fireplace -- and a well, also separate stairs up to a servery area in the great hall. It is not really a fireplace but rather a great vent under which various cooking ranges and braziers were located. Otherwise, the great hall is entered by a stone-flagged passage after a half-flight of stairs (another turnpike stair, which serves the upper floors of the southern portion of the range). Beyond the great hall is the solar, or withdrawing room, both with large fireplaces. And the solar has its own private stairs leading to the private quarters, and more privies. These rooms are very poorly lit with windows, and again it is surprising no improvements were ever made.

Upper Levels. Above the sunken vaulted armory in the tower, there are two very low circular rooms that housed the menial male and female servants (at least the household ones -- the rest would have lived in the barmkin). The so-called Parlor was a servants' hall; there are two large and one small bedrooms over the kitchen and part of the great hall -- presumably for the upper servants. Over the solar and northern part of the great hall are the earl's drawing room and library. These rooms are better lighted than those below, and are well-fitted-out in 18th-Century decor. The third floor contains milady's sitting room and bedroom or nursery in the northern part and two guest, or family, rooms in the southern. Here also is the chapel, with the priest's room in the tower. The chapel, dedicated to the goddess Lott, was redecorated in a most hideous and barbaric style in Victorian times. At the next story, the range is roofed (there is a dusty and unlit attic under the roof beams) except for the tower ranges. The northern tower range contains the Earl's private suite, the southern the garrison.


Estalia