Sussex castles are an ancient symbol of their land. These magnificent buildings were constructed for protection, as a home for the family, or as punishment. Whatever the reason, these structures are just a piece of history that still stand to this day.
How Many Sussex Castles are there?
There are twenty-seven castles in Sussex and most all were built from stone and have had a tragedy associated with them at some point in time during their existence.
The best Sussex Castles to Visit
Bodium Castle was originally built in 1163. It has been repaired and restored many times over the years but it is still standing. It was constructed for Henry de Newburgh who wanted to protect his land from the French. The castle’s height and width are not known, but it was most likely constructed around a courtyard with two or three stories.
Arundel Castle was first built in 1068 by Eadnoth the Staller who had fought in several battles for William the Conqueror. He began construction of a single stone wall to protect himself and his family, but since then Arundel Castle has been rebuilt many times resulting in several different architectural styles and configurations.
Hastings Castle was the first castle to be built in Sussex. Work began around 1066 but the citizens of Hastings were unhappy with the location chosen, so they pulled it down and built a new one away from the high cliff on a hill that was more accessible. It is believed that King Henry II stayed at this castle often and it has been renovated many times since its creation.
Codray Castle, also known as Bisset’s Castle, is not technically in Sussex as most of it is in Kent. This castle has been renovated many times due to fires starting in 1514; however, its original name was Codray Hill.
Herstmonceux Castle was originally built in 1138 by Geoffrey de Mandeville who was the cousin of King Stephen. The castle is constructed with a stone keep and curtain wall and has had repairs done to it in 1648 by Sir Thomas Ingram, but the construction is still original. An interesting fact about Herstmonceux Castle is that there has never been a battle fought there, but it did serve as a prison for James I during his captivity while he was on his way to London.
Lewes Castle was built to be used as a prison and it has been used for that purpose twice since its construction in 1228. The castle was built because of the people rebelling against Henry III and it served as a prison for many years until the people rioted against it again during the English Civil War.
Knepp Castle was also built as a prison but only held prisoners for less than ten years in total. This castle is not called Knepp Castle anymore, but it is officially St Botolph’s Priory. The priory was rebuilt in 1439, so the castle is fairly new, but still very old.
Rye Castle has been standing since 1067 when William de Warenne constructed it to guard his town of Rye from potential invaders and enemies. The castle has been renovated quite a few times including one which took place in 1856.
Pevensey Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1066 to help guard the coastline from potential invaders. It is not a very big area and it does not have a moat, but it does have a large motte that people still visit today.
Sussex castles are a piece of history that show how important the land has been in the past.
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