This tower, known as St Leonard’s Tower, and parts of its curtain walling, is all that remains of what is thought to have been either, West Malling castle or Malling Abbey, built between 1077 and 1108 by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester. He was a Norman monk from Bec, who came to England in about 1070.
Gundulf was made Bishop of Rochester in 1075 when his building skills were brought to the attention of William the Conqueror, by his friend and mentor, Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury.
William put Gundulf in charge of ‘works’ in the construction of the ‘White Tower’ (Tower of London).
Other buildings that are attributed to him, are Colchester Castle, Rochester Cathedral and Rochester Castle.
The St Leonard’s Tower is four storeys high, built of Kentish ragstone. There is some herringbone work which is still visible. It has corner pilaster buttresses, one mid-wall, and a spiral staircase in the north west corner, there are remains of Curtain walling.
Gundulf was thought to have been a highly gifted man; enlightened patron, and an able administrator, with a special knowledge of civil and military architecture
Bishop Gundulf is regarded as the “father of the Corps of Royal Engineers” of the British Army.
He died on 8th March 1108.
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