Sussex is home to some of England’s most well-preserved castles.
If you’re looking for a day out that’s a little bit different, why not explore some of the historic castles in Sussex?
Sussex is home to many castles that are open to the public, including the popular Bodiam Castle, Herstmonceux Castle, and Arundel Castle.
Each castle has its own unique history and features to explore.
Here’s a quick guide to help you plan your day.
Arundel Castle is a must-visit destination in Sussex, England. The castle is situated in the picturesque town of Arundel, which is located on the River Arun.
Visitors can explore the castle grounds, which include a museum, gardens, and a café. The castle also hosts various events throughout the year, such as jousting tournaments and falconry displays.
Arundel Castle was built in 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. The castle has been home to the Howard family for over 400 years. The castle was badly damaged during the English Civil War but was later restored by Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk. Today, the castle is open to the public and is a popular tourist destination.
There is much to see at Arundel Castle. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, which include a museum, gardens, and a café. Visitors can take part in guided tours of the castle interior, including several staterooms open to the public.
Getting To Arundel Castle and Entry Fees
Nestled in the scenic countryside, the 14th-century Bodiam Castle is the perfect place to explore the history and enjoy the Sussex countryside.
Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a knight who had fought in the Hundred Years’ War. Sir Edward built the castle as both a home and a fortress, intended to protect against French invasion.
The castle passed through several hands over the centuries before being bought by Lord Curzon in 1916. Lord Curzon oversaw a massive restoration project of the castle, which had fallen into ruin.
Today, Bodiam Castle is owned by the National Trust and is open to visitors year-round.
When you visit Bodiam Castle, you can explore the castle grounds, including the keep, towers, and ramparts. Inside the castle, you’ll find exhibits on its history and information about life in medieval times.
Be sure also to take some time to walk around the beautiful gardens and enjoy the stunning views of the Sussex countryside.
Getting To Bodiam Castle and Entry Fees
Bodiam Castle is located about an hour south of London by train. The nearest train station is Etchingham, from which you can take a bus or taxi to the castle grounds. Entry into Bodiam Castle costs £13 for adults, £6.50 for children ages 5-17, and £32 for families (2 adults + 3 children). Seniors and students can get a discounted entry fee of £11.70.
Located in the picturesque countryside of East Sussex, Herstmonceux Castle is a brick-built moated castle dating back to the 15th century.
It is one of England’s oldest significant brick buildings and is set in 300 acres of stunning woodland and gardens.
A visit to Herstmonceux Castle is a step back in time to a bygone era of luxury and grandeur.
The original castle was built in 1441 by Sir Roger Fiennes, a wealthy landowner and courtier of King Henry VI. The castle was extended and improved over the centuries by successive owners until it reached its current size and form in the early 20th century.
In 1951, the estate was sold to Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and it served as the university’s summer school campus until 2007. The castle is now owned by a private trust and is open to the public for tours and events.
Herstmonceux Castle is a fascinating blend of old and new, with something everyone can enjoy. The castle grounds are home to various beautiful gardens, including an 18th-century walled garden, a rose garden, and an Italian garden.
There are also plenty of opportunities for walks and picnics in the 300 acres of stunning woodland surrounding the castle.
Inside the castle, you can explore an array of rooms that have been beautifully restored to their former glory.
Highlights include the Great Hall with its hammer-beam roof; the Long Gallery, which is over 50 meters long; and the Oak Room, which has 17th-century oak panelling on its walls. You can also learn about the castle’s history in the museum located in the former stables block.
Situated near Rye, Camber Castle is a must-visit for anyone interested in English history. The castle was built by King Henry VIII in 1539 to fortify the country’s coastline against the threat of invasion from France and Spain.
Today, the castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public year-round.
Camber Castle is open to the public from April to October. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny. However, even during the off-season, the castle is still worth a visit. Just be sure to dress warmly and pack a raincoat!
There are plenty of things to see and do at Camber Castle. Visitors can explore the castle’s atmospheric interiors, including its Great Hall, kitchens, and bedrooms.
Guided tours of the castle are also available, allowing visitors to learn more about its history and architecture.
There is an excellent exhibition on the castle’s role in World War II for those interested in military history.
And for those simply looking to combine Camber Castle with some time by the seaside, Camber Sands beach is just a short 20-minute drive away from the castle grounds.
Getting To Camber Castle and Entry Fees
Camber Castle is located approximately two hours south of London by car. If you’re coming from further afield, consider taking the train to Rye station and then catching a taxi or bus for the final leg of your journey. Once you arrive at Camber Castle, plenty of free parking is available on-site.
The first mention of Hastings Castle comes in the account of the Norman conquest of England written by William of Poitiers, a Norman knight who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
According to William, Duke William of Normandy ordered the construction of a castle at Hastings shortly after his victory over King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings.
The castle was built on top of the hill where Duke William had first landed in England, making it an important symbol of the Norman conquest.
Hastings Castle played an important role in the civil war known as the First Barons’ War (1215-1217). In 1216, Prince Louis of France (who later became King Louis VIII) invaded England to support the rebel barons fighting against King John.
One of Louis’ first actions was to lay siege to Hastings Castle, which was being defended by a small garrison loyal to John. The siege lasted for almost a month before John’s forces arrived and drove Louis’ troops away.
Hastings Castle continued to be used as a royal fortress and occasional residence until 1460 when it was captured by Yorkist troops during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487). The Yorkists slighted (damaged beyond repair) the castle so that it could no longer be used by their Lancastrian enemies.
Today, only part of one wall and some foundations remain; everything else is gone. Nevertheless, Hastings Castle is still an interesting and evocative place to visit.
Getting To Hastings Castle and Entry Fees
Knepp Castle is located in the rural countryside of West Sussex.
This picturesque castle dates back to the 13th century and has been owned by the same family for over 700 years. Today, Knepp Castle is open to the public for tours, events, and overnight stays. Here’s everything you need to know about this historic landmark.
Knepp Castle was built in the early 13th century by William de Braose, a Norman nobleman who served as a royal courtier under King John of England. The castle changed hands several times over the centuries before being purchased by Sir Edward Coke in 1616. The Coke family would go on to own and live in the castle for the next 400 years.
In 2001, following a series of financial setbacks, the last members of the Coke family were forced to sell Knepp Castle. The new owners embarked on an ambitious restoration project that sought to return the castle to its former glory. Today, Knepp Castle is once again a thriving hub of activity, hosting weddings, corporate events, and overnight guests worldwide.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do at Knepp Castle. Visitors can explore the castle’s numerous rooms and corridors, take a stroll through its sprawling gardens, or go for a horseback ride through the surrounding countryside. The castle also offers a variety of special events throughout the year, including falconry displays, archery lessons, and medieval banquets.
Getting To Knepp Castle and Entry Fees
Lewes Castle is a Norman castle in the town of Lewes in East Sussex. The castle was originally built in 1069 by William the Conqueror’s nephew, Odo of Bayeux. The castle was designed to fortify against rebellions and invasions from the Kingdom of France.
The castle has been through many changes over the centuries and has been owned by some of England’s most famous kings and queens, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
Today, Lewes Castle is open to the public as a tourist attraction and a site of historical importance. The castle is managed by the Sussex Archaeological Society and is Grade I listed on the National Heritage List for England.
Visitors to the castle can explore the keep, towers, and grounds and learn about the castle’s long history. The castle also hosts annual special events, including jousting tournaments, falconry displays, and medieval reenactments.
Getting To Lewes Castle and Entry Fees
Pevensey Castle is a medieval castle located in the town of Pevensey in East Sussex, not far from the popular seaside resort of Eastbourne.
The castle was built in 1066 after the Norman conquest of England and served as a primary fortification for the Normans during the Harrying of the North.
In later centuries, Pevensey Castle was used as a prison and a court. Today, the castle is open to the public and is managed by English Heritage.
The original castle was built shortly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The first construction phase consisted of a motte-and-bailey design, with a wooden keep on top of a man-made hill (the motte) and a bailey (or courtyard) surrounded by a palisade.
The second phase of construction, which began in the 12th century, saw the addition of stone walls and towers. By the 14th century, Pevensey Castle had become one of the most important castles in England.
During the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, Pevensey Castle was captured by the French in 1333. It was recaptured by the English in 1347. In 1538, Henry VIII ordered that the castle be refortified due to fears of a French invasion. However, these improvements were never completed due to the outbreak of war with Scotland in 1542.
Pevensey Castle saw little military action until 1642, when it was captured by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War. The castle changed hands several times during the conflict before being finally taken by Royalist forces in 1644.
Following the end of the war, Oliver Cromwell ordered that much of Pevensey Castle be destroyed so that it could not be used as a fortification again.
Visitors can explore the castle’s ruined walls and towers, which provide spectacular views over Pevensey Bay. The castle also has an on-site museum with exhibits on its history and archaeology.
Getting To Pevensey Castle and Entry Fees
If you’re looking for a history lesson and a day out all in one, then a visit to Rye Castle is the perfect activity.
Located in the town of Rye in East Sussex, the castle is a well-preserved example of an early Norman motte and bailey castle.
First built in 1066, just after the Battle of Hastings, the castle has been through a lot in its 950 years of existence.
After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror gave the town of Rye (then known as ‘Rye’) to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux.
Odo began construction on the castle shortly thereafter, completing it sometime around 1069. The original castle was built using timber, earthwork motte and bailey defences, with a stone keep later added in the 12th century.
The castle changed hands several times over the centuries; it was owned by Henry II, and King John and even belonged to rebel leader Simon de Montfort at one point.
In 1247, King Henry III granted the castle to his son Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Lancaster. During this time, much of the current stone structure was built.
The castle remained in royal hands until 1377, when it was confiscated by Parliament after the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Boroughbridge.
It was then sold to Sir Peter Warburton, who began dismantling it for building materials. This process continued until 1450, when Warburton’s descendants ran out of money and were forced to stop.
There is plenty to see at Rye Castle for history buffs and casual visitors alike. The most impressive feature is undoubtedly the 12th-century keep; at 35 feet tall, it’s one of the tallest examples of its kind still standing in England today.
Other notable features include the 13th-century Great Tower (also known as Crouchback’s Tower) and several restored rooms, which give visitors an idea of what life would have been like inside the castle walls centuries ago.
There is also an excellent museum on site which details the history of both the castle and town of Rye. The museum is interactive and suitable for all ages; it even has a dressing-up area for kids.
In addition to all this, beautiful gardens surround the castle, which is perfect for picnicking or simply relaxing on a sunny day.
Getting To Rye Castle and Entry Fees