24. The West Wall and the Pleasance
A hunting and banqueting lodge, known as the ‘Le Plesans en Marys’, was created in the marshes to the West by Henry V. It was dismantled by Henry VIII and initially reconstructed in the outer court, possibly using the chapel foundations opposite the stables. It was moved again by Robert Dudley to the West curtain wall, which is appropriately much higher at this location to support the ’12 chambers above and below’. In 1872, the historian and Reverend Edward Knowles observed at the same location the remains of a well, filled up.
The water and waste from the Strong Tower latrine and the drain under the kitchen is removed by underground drains which combine near the entrance to the garden to ultimately discharge outside of the curtain wall, near to the King’s Gate. The King’s Gate, often thought to have been made by Henry V so that he could more conveniently visit the Pleasance, is instead described by local historian Dr. Richard Morris as ‘introduced at some date after 1650 for agricultural use’. In this case it was curiously named, since, uniquely at the time, there was no reigning monarch.
A survey in 1545 recorded that ‘about the walls there be houses builded for 200 persons to lodge in’, but now only the remains of a few windows and fireplaces survive as evidence along the South and West curtain walls. The Swan Tower is at the north end of the West Wall, the top floor of which is thought to have been converted by Robert Dudley into a banqueting house to take advantage of views over the lake.