Bramber Castle Ruins.
When you arrive at Bramber Castle ruins car park, the first thing you will notice is a church, St Nicholas. It is old, even by British standards! Indeed, the church was built in 1073AD/CE. The Castle and the Church were erected at the same time, so it’s not quite 1000 years old.
The castle or, to clarify, what’s left of it, is a traditional Norman Motte and Bailey castle. A Motte is usually a man-made mound in the centre of the site. A Bailey is an enclosed courtyard, with a protective ditch and palisade or wall surrounding it. The central mound or Motte on the site at Bramber Castle ruins is still visible. As can be seen below.
The castle was originally built to help protect William the Conquerors new lands. Or William the Bastard as he is also known. However, this is a question of his parentage, his father was not married. The epithet is not about whether he was a nice chap!
Being from Normandy, he acquired his new lands by invading England (1066 and all that!) It is part of a network of Castles stretching along the South East Coast and includes Arundel, Lewes and Pevensey Castles. The Castles were used to consolidate King Williams reign in a region. Undoubtedly, the castles are a projection of power in an unstable time.
Also, if you’ve just nicked a load of land, you don’t want someone to come along and pinch it back off you! Viking raiders, at this time, being very much active!
Construction of Bramber Castle
The first Castle built here was probably a very traditional wooden motte and bailey castle. The Motte and Bailey castle was relatively easy and quick to build with unskilled labour. The labour, to be sure, was usually the forced labour of the disgruntled people being oppressed!
Around the end of the 11th century, a deep ditch was dug around the site and a stone wall was added on top. With a gatehouse on the south entrance, it undoubtedly looked a forbidding place.
Occupants of Bramber Castle
Bramber Castle was the seat of the de Braose family. Originally, William de Barose accompanied William the Conqueror on the invasion in 1066. Indeed, for his loyal service and support, he was given the area around Bramber to keep safe. Of course, and let’s not be coy about this, he also wanted the tax revenue off the land too!
To be sure, supporting the King was not a selfless act. It was always with the understanding, of course, of getting something back. After all, you wanted a return on your investment of time, men and money!
The castle remained in the De Barose family for over 200 years but fell to ruin in the late middle ages. Also, owned by the Howards – Dukes of Norfolk. They own Arundel Castle too. Sadly, Bramber Castle was a ruin by the 16th Century.
Bramber Castle Ruins – Conclusions
Even though today the castle is a ruin, I think it is still worth a visit. It is somewhat humbling to walk around and see a once great building ravaged by time. If you are out for a Sunday walk, Bramber Castle ruins will provide an hours entertainment. Also, there is plenty of space for the kids to run around too!
When: During daylight
Where: Castle Lane, Bramber Castle, Bramber BN44 3WE. Click on the map below to see it on Google maps
Things to do and see in Sussex
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