This gate is the best known of the four original gates in Derry City Walls and is at the highest point thereof. It was Bishop’s Gate that James II approached on 18 April 1689 expecting the citizens to surrender. James, requested the inhabitants to surrender four times that day. On the fourth occasion James beat a hasty retreat when a cannon was fired from the ramparts killing one of his officers. Thus began the 105 days Siege of Derry.
Please see my Walk Old Derry’s Walls review for additional detail on the Siege of Derry.
While this and indeed all the gates had been closed to James’ forces since 7 December 1688 the city was not under Siege and residents could enter and leave the city, even if with some restrictions.
One hundred years later in 1789 Bishop’s Gate was rebuilt as a triumphal arch in memory of King William III. The gate was rebuilt at the suggestion of Bishop Hervey, hence its name.
Design plans for the replacement gate by Henry Aaron Baker envisaged a large statue of William III on horseback over the arch. While the statue didn’t eventuate do look up to see the sculptured heads – one on the inside of the gate and one on the outside. The inside head represents the River Boyne (where William III went on to finally defeat James II in 1690). The outside head represents the River Foyle (recalling the breaking of a boom thereon and the Relief of Derry) and is dated 1689.
Initiations into the Apprentice Boys Association, which can only take place within the Derry City Walls, were performed atop Bishop’s Gate until the Apprentice Boy’s Memorial Hall was built in 1877.
This entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on many trips to Londonderry/Derry. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Heritage Tower – Former Derry Gaol – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – The City on the Foyle.