Christchurch, Dorset, England
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Constables House, Dorset, England         OS Map Grid Ref: SZ160927
 The County of Dorset
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The Constable's House
also known as The Norman House pictured from near castle situated a hundred or so metres to the west

The mediaeval Constable 's House (sometimes also known as the Norman House or Castle Hall) is a domestic building which was the residence of the official charged with custody of the castle , a hundred or so metres away to the west, during the absence of the Lord of the Manor .

Sir Thomas West, a constable of the castle who died as the 15th cntury was beginning, is buried in the Lady Chapel at the nearby Priory Church .

It is thought to have been built around 1160 by Richard de Redvers, second Earl of Devon, who held the manor of Christchurch from 1155 until 1162.

Now consisting only of the roofless masonry walls, the building had two stories, the upper being the hall proper with a timber floor of which only the holes in the walls which supported the joists remain. The lower story has only narrow 'slit' windows to prevent entry and was used as a store-room. The eastern wall, that along which runs the Mill Stream, was the curtain wall of the site and is much thicker than the other three walls.

The upper, reached by means of a spiral stone staircase erected within the walls of the north-east corner is thought to have been divided by a partition into two portions: one room serving as the private quarters of the constable, the other where guests might be entertained.

Rude though its accomodations seem to our modern eyes, the Constable's House did possess its refinements - a fireplace of the most generous proportions with its cylindrical chimney still intact and the remains of the ruined garderobe tower standing over the Mill Stream to serve as an early form of water closet in times of otherwise poor sanitation. Despite the ruinous condition of the garderobe tower, the mediaeval arches over the water channel are practically undisturbed. Closer inspection of the hall also reveals finely worked stone to the reveals of the stone mullioned windows whose round heads are ornamented with the chevron and diaper design which is the hallmark of the Norman conquerors. By its craftmanship, this was obviously no rude cottage but a building which advertised wealth and power to townsman and visitor alike.

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Mediaeval Christchurch
Changes in England under the Normans
Mediaeval Building
  Towns & Villages of Dorset

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