11. The Bridge to the Chase, Blacksmith's Forge, and Lunn's Tower
A timber bridge, 14ft wide and 600ft long, railed on both sides and strongly planked, extended from the Castle over the mere to the Chase. The Chase was full of several hundred red-deer and other stately game for hunting.
On the 4th evening of her visit, Queen Elizabeth I stood on this bridge listening to musicians on a barge. Some days afterwards, returning from a hunt in the Chase, and still on horseback, she was entertained by an aquatic pageant of boats shaped like mermaids and dolphins. Just 30 years later, it is recorded, this bridge had fallen into decay.
There are no records of the location of a blacksmith’s forge at Kenilworth Castle, despite blacksmiths being highly regarded, and this being a key facility of the time. In addition to forging horseshoes for the farrier, barrel hoops for the cooper, farming tools and weapons, they were also essential to make and repair everyday objects such as nails, door hinges, locks, keys, cartwheels, knives and axes.
Lunn’s Tower, a name first used by the historian Sir William Dugdale (and suggested to be that of a lieutenant commanding the tower during the siege of 1266), was originally built by King John. The tower was subsequently modified, for example by the installation of fireplaces which blocked 2 arrow loops on the north side, and a staircase turret was also added. Up to 3 small latrines were available, each discharging out through the curtain wall directly onto the ground below. The first floor room was known as ‘the King’s Chamber’.
According to the historians George Clarke, writing in 1875, and Ribton-Turner later in 1893, the rear of this tower contains a well, 4 foot in diameter. This would be a critical feature of the castle, but it is today completely obscured. As recently as 1965, the base of the inner wall still existed, but there are no records to explain its disappearance.
Adjacent to Lunn’s Tower is a sally port, cut low through the curtain wall. The term derived from the French and Latin for a door from which to leap or surge forward. The opening would be small and easily defended, and used to discreetly leave or enter the castle. During a siege it could be used for a surprise raid to secure stores or to disrupt the enemy.