Saint Laurence Gate
|Saint Laurence's Gate|
|Former names||Great East Gate|
|Address||St. Laurence Street|
|Town or city||Drogheda|
|Owner||Office of Public Works|
Saint Laurence's Gate is a barbican which was built in the 13th century as part of the walled fortification's of the medieval town of Drogheda in Ireland. A barbican or defended fore-work which stood directly outside the original gate of which no surface trace survives. It is regarded as one of the finest of its kind and is designated as a national monument. The original names for Laurence Street and Saint Laurence Gate were Great East Street and Great East Gate, respectively. In the 14th century, the street and gate were renamed because they led to the hospital of Saint Laurence, which stood close to the Cord church.
It consists of two towers, each with four floors, joined by a bridge at the top and an entrance arch at street level. Entry is gained up a flight of stairs in the south tower. There is a slot underneath the arch from where a portcullis could be raised and lowered.
Historians have wondered why such an enormous barbican was built in the east of the town, when the main artery through the town has always been north/south. For example, a similar barbican in Canterbury is less than half the height of Saint Laurence Gate. However, from the top of the Gate, the estuary of the Boyne and the four mile stretch of river from there to Drogheda can be clearly observed. This is the only point in the town with a clear view of any potential sea invasion. The earliest pictures we have of Laurence's Gate show that there was a raised lookout platform at the top of the south tower to provide an even higher vantage point, ref Francis Place, 1698 (Irish Architectural Archive), Willem Van Der Hagen, 1720 (Beaulieu House), Ricardelli, 1782 (Highlanes Gallery).
A portion of the town wall remains to the south of Saint Laurence's Gate. North of Laurence's Gate, the wall ran up Palace St/King St where the footpath is today. The depth of the basements of the houses and the Centre for Continuing Education, King Street suggest the presence of a deep trench outside the wall. Over the centuries, as the walls and gates fell into disrepair, the rubble stones were reused in later buildings. For example, the house and walls at the corner of Laurence Street and Palace Street and stone walls in Francis Street. Old pictures show that a toll booth and gate house remained until the early 19th century. The shop beside Laurence's Gate was a bicycle shop 100 years ago. The green letter box dates from a time when there was a post office there.
- St. Laurence Gate on askaboutireland.ie
- St. Laurence Gate on www.discoverireland.ie
- Archiseek (Irish-architecture.com) Laurence Gate entry (with pictures and notes). Retrieved at 27 March 2008
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