The Classical Gateway

It was probably during the early 1680s and after Dineley's visit that work commenced on a new Classical gateway that was inserted in the curtain wall. This is the same gateway that today provides the principal entrance to the castle. Sir Hugh May (1622-84) described as a 'virtuoso' sent designs for this project but it seems that he did not want his 'draught' altered because he 'proposed to show ye exact shape and beauty of the Peers' (sic]. There is conflicting evidence about the stone used on the original piers for the gate. One suggestion is that they were of Caen stone that had been shipped from France and brought up river from Inistioge while another commentator describes them as being of Portland stone. There is a detailed correspondence throughout 1681 about the various difficulties raised by the scale of the piers and some of these were referred to Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) the architect of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. Further problems such as the batter of the wall and the amount of masonry that should be taken down were also discussed; in the end the removal of sections measuring 'six foot to each side' was suggested. Construction of this gateway seems to have been intermittent; work continued during the second duke's time, and Sir William Robinson (1643-1712) is usually suggested as having been involved in the building of it, and it may be that the original plans as drawn up by Hugh May were not followed.

The Castle's Banqueting House 1698, by F. Place