I recently visited Bramber Castle, which sits a short drive inland from the coast in West Sussex just north of Shoreham. The Castle was built shortly after 1066 to secure the coast in the wake of William’s conquest of England at Hastings. It sits atop a high hill with excellent views along the valley of the River Adur. This part of Sussex was known as the Rape of Bramber, a long thin tract of land stretching inland from the coast. It was given to William De Braose, who had fought alongside William the Conqueror at Hastings, as reward for his services.
The castle was of motte and bailey design, as were most early Norman castles, however this one is a little unusual. The motte, the manmade hill that would have had the keep on top of it, sits in a more central position within the bailey. It was far more common to have the motte at one end of the bailey. There is little left of the castle, however there are still small sections of the outer curtain wall visible, and the foundations of the eastern tower.
To the south of the castle is a small Norman church dating to the same period as the castle. The church is of very simple design, with a number of interesting but somewhat crude stone carvings. It makes a very interesting contrast to some of the churches in the area, such as Steyning or Sompting. Yet it is well worth a visit, if for no other reason than the beautiful views across the Downs.
- Castle and church date to circa 1073
- Seat of the De Braose family
- Fell into ruin by the late middle ages
- The family’s persecution by King John led to the rebellion which resulted in the signing of the Magna Carta
- Free entry!