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8-08-2015, 15:15

The Castle at Loches

The huge stone tower at Loches stood 108 feet high, and its ground plan had an exterior dimension of eighty-three feet by fifty feet, six inches. The tower had four floors, each of which consisted of a single room. The ground floor must have served as storage space, because it had no windows, only open slits for air circulation. The principal floor contained the great hall, which was used for public events. This hall was an imposing place for both ceremony and government. Here the lord sat in state with members of his household and his guests. By the twelfth century the household consisted of the family and the officials who served the lord and conducted his business—the constable or castellan who governed the castle when the lord was away, the steward and butler who provided food and drink, the chamberlain who looked after the clothes and other possessions, and the chancellor who kept written records and supervised the chapel. The constable and the marshal were responsible for security, the troops, and the stables. The hall was a splendid room with practical amenities such as fireplaces and garderobes (latrines), which were built into the thickness of the wall. The forebuilding, a fortified structure, enclosed the outside stairs and controlled access to the great hall. At Loches the forebuilding also housed the chapel. The third floor in the tower may have been a semiprivate hall, which was reached from the hall by means of stairs built into the wall. Finally the top floor provided additional living space and was reached by spiral stairs. The few windows were limited to the upper floors. Cut through the massive walls, window enclosures formed spaces that resembled small rooms. The tower at Loches is built in an early Romanesque style with pilaster and half-column decorated exterior walls, small round-headed win dows, and fine stone masonry. Its imposing height and high quality stonework suggest that it was built not only to withstand attacks but also to impress the people living in the surrounding countryside with the power of the owner.