2.  The Brays and the Gallery Tower

02 Brays web.jpg

         To the South-East, two semi-circular stone walls remain of the original castle entrance gate, which was described as having a drawbridge to cross over a deep moated trench.   This entrance has been known as Danes Gate or Cowgate, and it provided access to the Brays and on to the Floodgate or Gallery Tower.   The names of the castle gates and towers have not been constant through the ages.   In 1656 the historian Sir William Dugdale (who served as a royalist commander during the civil war) referred to the towers by names which are still in use today.

         The Brays earthworks are named from the French for ‘military outwork surrounded by palisades’.   Palisades are by definition constructed using timber stakes.   There were no stone ramparts on the Brays, as often depicted in illustrations.

         The Gallery Tower was rebuilt by Robert Dudley.   The drawbridge is not hinged at its base, but instead rotates part way along its length.   Heavy weights were typically attached to counterbalance the larger span.   The chains are controlled by a windlass in the guardhouse above, and might themselves have been attached to counter weights to further help ease operation.   The guardhouse can be accessed via steps in the Tiltyard, and shows how the drawbridge and portcullis might each be controlled by a windlass, based on a still existing example in the Tower of London.

         There is a discrete side door, ‘a secrete and a privy way’, to enter or leave the Gallery Tower via a series of steps, concealed behind a wall, down to the mere.   This doorway, it was suggested, could be used as ‘a secrete pollycy to destroy the ennemys’, which is the definition of a sally port.

         The Gallery Tower was described as having contained ‘a spacious and noble room for Ladies to see the exercises of Tilting and Barriers’, although there is some suggestion that an intended timber extension for this purpose was never actually constructed.   The viewpoint would not have been unique, since it is recorded that the viewing gallery for royal use at the Whitehall tiltyard was similarly at the south end, looking down the line of the tilt barrier.