Camber Castle, East Sussex
~ History ~
1287 ~ Old Winchelsea is destroyed in The Great Storm following thirty years of continued storm damage.
1288 ~ New Winchelsea is created on the hill of Ilham overlooking the Camber.
1486 ~ Sir Richard Guldeford is granted the lordship of Ihma (now Winchelsea), in return for building and maintaining a tower to protect the Camber and harbour, which he fails to do.
1512 ~ Sir Edward Guldeford builds a circular tower on the shoreline to defend the shallow harbour between Rye & Winchelsea.
1538 ~ A treaty between warring France & Spain leaves the southern coast of England vulnerable to attack.
1539 ~ King Henry VIII orders work to begin on the new Castle of Winchelsea, with timber from nearby Appledore, and stone quarried from Hastings and from demolishing buildings in Winchelsea, including the church. Dressed stone is imported from Caen in France, with 600,000 bricks manufactored on site.
1541 ~ By Act of Parliament the castle is put under the command of the Constable of Dover and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne.
1544 ~ The castle is completed at a cost of £23,000, with an eventual garrison on 29 men.
1580 ~ The Rye Fellowship of Fishermen are given the power to maintain the light at Camber Castle to help guide boats into the port of Rye.
1600 ~ The silting of the Camber and shifting of the eastern end of the harbour are already making the castle obsolete.
1626 ~ The sea has receded so far that the harbour is now out of range of the castle's cannons. King Charles gives permission for the castle to be dismantled, but the order is never carried out.
1637 ~ The garrison disband from the castle for the final time after its decommissioning, with the guns removed and castle partly dismantled five years later in 1642, with stone work and timbers removed for local building works
Camber Castle can be seen from the main road driving between Winchelsea and Rye in the bend of the road, lying squat in the middle of fields, with no obvious access.
After years of driving past this bend in the road where a quick glimpse of the castle appeared to be as good as we would get, we set off determined to get to the castle.
We discovered that the castle is in the care of Rye Harbour nature reserve, with appointments via English Heritage, with limited open days with guided walks provided.
Access to the castle is off the A249 along the Harbour Road where you can park on the side of the road with care and consideration. A winding footpath takes you along the riverwalk towards to castle, which is quite a lengthy trek across flat fields seperated by ditches and dykes.
A thoroughly worthwhile and interesting visit to a very unsusual castle. Just make sure you check out the few open days available.