Jordan's Castle's early history is somewhat obscure. The earliest authentic reference is to a defence of the castle by Simon Jordan against the O'Neills for three years, until relieved by Lord Deputy Mountjoy in 1601. In 1911 the Belfast antiquarian, Francis Joseph Bigger, bought the castle and restored it, using it to display his extensive collection of antiquities and making it freely accessible to everyone. When he died in 1926, the castle was presented by his executor, Dr Joseph Bigger, to the state on condition that, with its contents, it should be preserved as an Ancient Monument. The contents have since been dispersed among the Ulster Museums general collections and the tower is no longer open to the public.
Jordan's Castle is a rectangular tower house four storeys high. On the north face are two rectangular projections, one containing a stone spiral staircase, the other an inner closet at each level, with those on the lower stages having outlets to the ground. Architecturally there is little evidence to give a definitive date for the castle. The masonry is blue stone rubble with a little freestone in quoins and window jambs. Some of the window details suggest 15th century, but have had so much reconstruction that dating is difficult.
The ground floor chamber is unfloored and the irregular surface of the outcropping rock can be seen. It therefore may have been a storehouse. The main room is apparently on the first floor, which contains its original stone floor supported on a pointed barrel vault. The floors on the second and third storeys are at the original levels but of modern construction, with the beams going at right angles to the original direction. The concrete roof is also an addition. The wall tops retain their stone-flagged rampart walls and archery turrets. The turret to the north-west contains a dovecote, the nest-holes of which are contemporary with the main structure.
The entrance is at the bottom of the north-west tower and leads to a spiral stairway to roof level. It is protected by a machicolation at that level. The projecting towers are connected by a high-level arch which also functions as a machicolation.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.