Bramber Castle, Sussex
High Street, Bramber, near Steyning
Bramber Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle formerly the caput of the large feudal barony of Bramber long held by the Braose family. It is situated in the village of Bramber, overlooking the River Adur.
Bramber's name is taken from the Saxon 'Brymmburh' meaing fortified place, was built shortly after the Conquest by William de Braose to guard the then sizable port on the river Adur. Little remains of the castle except one wall of the keep about 75 feet high and portions of the perimeter wall.
The mound on which it is built looks like a gigantic motte but is natural and there is a pre-conquest motte within the walls, which dates back to saxon times. From the site it can be seen what a very fine defensive position the castle occupied.
During the Civil War the castle was attacked and destroyed by Parliamentary forces, who used the nearby church as a gun emplacement.
There is limited parking for the castle but access is easy for a stroll around what remains of the castle.
~ History ~
1073 ~ The powerful de Braose loyal to William the Conqueror commences building of a castle on the South Downs.
1206 ~ William de Braose falls out with King John due to William's growing strength as one of the leading lords of the Kingdom, with some sixteen castles. The jealous King starves William's captive wife and son to death.
1208 ~ The forfeit castle is awarded to a succession of royal henchmen, including Roland Bloe, John of Monmouth, and Robert le Savage.
1209 ~ King John visits Bramber.
1210 ~ The castle is extensively repaired.
1215 ~ Following the surrender of London to the barons, Bramber becomes a base for the royal forces.
1216 ~ King John again visits Bramber.
1216 ~ King Henry III succeeds the throne of England following his father's death and civil war with the Barons of England. William de Braose recovers his castle at Bramber.
1217 ~ The castle is in the hands of King Louis VIII of France, being held for him by William of Duston.
1234 ~ Bramber is again in royal hands by Peter de Rivaux and Robert le Savage successively, when it is alerted against the threat of a French invasion.
1265 ~ Eleanor, countess of Leicester, stays at the castle with a train of 84 horses.
1280 ~ King Edward I visits the castle several times between 1280 and 1305.
1288 ~ Two pirate prisoners are held in the castles dungeon's for murder, before being taken to the county gaol at Guildford.
1326 ~ The castle passes to the Bohuns and just four years later to the Mowbrays.
1334 ~ The borough of Bramber is reported as the poorest borough in the county, taxed at less than half the rate of the next poorest. Seven years later it is said to have declined and to be completely impoverished, with no merchants or tradesmen of any substance.
1338 ~ As a result of French raids along the Sussex coastline, King Edward III orders the absent John de Mowbray to live in Bramber and make the castle secure.
1355 ~ Two French pirates captured at Shoreham escape imprisonment from the castle.
1380's ~ Continued French raids force a local petition to King Richard II to order the fortress to be garrisoned and kept in repair.
1456 ~ The last constable of the castle Robert Langton leaves his post.
1553 ~ Bramber is described as the 'late castle', and to have largely fallen to the ground, and to be 'nothing but a heap of stones', thereafter used only for grazing.