Heights have been something of a theme recently. The Keep is an impressive, in terms of its scale, Portland stone construction, dating from 1879 and, if you are willing to pay the admission price for the military museum that now occupies the building, you can climb the spiral stairs all the way up to the roof. Once informed by the ladies stationed at the entrance that I could go up onto the roof I thought to myself, “It would be rude not to!”
The Keep Military Museum’s own website quotes a description of the building by the well know art and architectural historian Pevsner, who describes it in less than favourable terms: “The monumental gatehouse is a knock-down affair. Two round towers to the front, the archway between. Three storeys of long slit windows. Rock faced with a vengeance. Today it is a grade 2 listed building. The designer was probably Major AC Seddon R.E, head of the War Office Design branch at this time…The barracks behind were humble by comparison“. As somebody who grew up by the seaside, The Keep reminds me of the castle shaped plastic buckets and the resulting crenelated sand castles they produced.
The Keep is topped with two flags, the Union flag and the flag of The Rifles. In 1958 the Devonshire Regiment and the Dorset Regiment amalgamated to form the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. In 2007 the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment was amalgamated with a number of other regiments to form The Rifles, which still has a Reserve Company [the Territorial Army as was] based Dorchester.
The spiral staircases in the towers give access to the museums galleries on three floors and then you are invited carry on and step out onto the roof. It was a rather windy day and the situation was unique in my experience, in that the area of the roof is very large, but the battlements around it are very short. The two gentlemen working on the maintenance of the tower didn’t seem to mind climbing up even higher and out onto the scaffolding you can see on my photographs, but one of them did remark to me that, “It was a bit windy”.
The Keep is tall enough for you to get a unique perspective on a number of tree tops and the comings and goings of the Bridport Road. The military museum itself is very interesting and, if you like heights, I would recommend a walk on the roof.
According to my trusty Ladybird book, “Discovering The Tower of London“, the Martin Tower housed the Crown Jewels during the reign of King Charles II and that this was the place where “adventurer” and self-styled “Colonel“, Thomas Blood attempted to steal the royal regalia. In those days you could pay for a private viewing of the Crown Jewels and after winning the trust of Jewel Keeper Talbot Edwards, Blood knocked him unconscious and a run for it. Colonel Blood was captured, after an affray in which one of the sentries on duty was shot, but bizarrely, after an audience with King Charles II, Blood was let off! There are many stories wrapped up in the history of the Tower of London, but the tale of Colonel Blood and his mysterious pardon has to be one of my favourites.
Spotted this fairy tale cake in the window of the “Sugar ‘n’ Spice” cake shop in Hull (that’s the Paragon Arcade window as opposed to the Paragon Street window at the front of the shop). I never miss an opportunity to walk through the Paragon Arcade; what with a cake shop at one end and a sweet shop at the other!