Pevensey Castle, East Sussex
Castle Road, Pevensey
Off A27 /A259
Pevensey Castle has a history stretching back over 1,700 years. Originally a Roman fort, it was refortified by the Normans after William the Conqueror landed at Pevensey in 1066 and a great medieval castle was subsequently built within the Roman walls. This fell into decay in the late Middle Ages, but its defences have twice been renewed: once to protect England from the Spanish Armada in 1588, and again during the Second World War.
Access to Pevensey Castle is a short stroll from the town and pub located just outside its walls.
This site is quite big and is really worthwhile exploring in two parts.
The outside walls are Roman and are well worth exploring and having a wander round the outer-ward first.
The Norman castle itself, like Portchester Castle further along the south coast, was built inside an existing Roman fort, and although this one is on a smaller scale, there is enough of the castle to explore, including a walk along the battlements to get a good view of the castle and its lovely views.
~ History ~
290 - A Roman fort names Anderida is built on the shoreline, commanding the Bay of Pevensey. Further fortifications are erected at Portchester, Burgh Castle, Richborough and Lympne in the fight against piracy in the Channel.
491 - Following the Roman's departure several decades earlier, Pevensey is besieged and its Briton population slaughtered by a Saxon raiding force. After this slaughter Pevensey disappears from the historical record for 600 years.
1066 - On 28th Sepetember, William, Duke of Normandy, sails his fleet into Pevensey Bay. Upon landing, he erects a temporary fortification within the Roman fort, although the walls to the south being lost to subsidence.
1067 - After the Conquest, William leaves England to make a triumphal tour of Normandy. He sails from Pevensey. The castle and its lands are granted to William's half-brother, Robert Count of Mortain. Robert proceeds to replace the temporary timber defences with stone, repairing the Roman walls and strengthening the ditches.
1088 - Following William's death, squabbles between his sons, Duke Robert of Normandy and William Rufus, result in all out conflict. The Count of Mortain and his brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux, support Duke Robert and hold the castle against the king. To ensure Robert is unable to use Pevensey as a foothold for invasion, William Rufus personally oversee's the siege of the castle. The castle's powerful defences resist every assault, but after six weeks a shortage of food, the rebels are forced to seek a truce. Despite this the Count retains the castle but Robert's invasion of England is thwarted, for now.
1101 - Duke Robert again threatens to invade England and so King Henry I spends the summer at Pevensey in anticipation of an attack.
This time the Count of Mortain forfeits his castle and lands in punishment of his support for Robert.
1147 - The powerful Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke is besieged in the Castle by King Stephen. Once again only famine causes its surrender.
0's - King Richardo I makes substantial payments to the building of the Keep.
1230's - With Normandy lost to the French King and the owners of Pevensey Castle siding with Prince Louis of France, King John, being unable to garrison Pevensey Castle, orders it to be slighted so as it cannot be used by the invading French. Pevensey subsequently plays no part in Prince Louis invasion.
1246 - Peter of Savoy is granted the castle and undertakes substantial rebuilding and modification to its ruined defences.
1264 - May 15th, an army led by Simon de Montford inflicts a crushing defeat on the king's forces at the Battle of Lewes. In the aftermath of the battle the castle is ordered to surrender. This is refused and so a siege ensues. This time provisions hold out and the siege is lifted in July of the following year. De Montford is defeated at the Battle of Evesham by the Kin's forces and so the castle returns to Peter of Savoy.
1372 - King Edward III grants the castle to his son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
1377 - John comes into conflict with King Richard II for refusing to garrison Pevensey against the threat of French invasion.
1381 - During the Peasant's revolt, a local mob, fuelled by the Duke's unpopularity, burn the castle and abuse its steward.
1399 - Following Lady Joan Pelham's successful defence of the castle against King Richard II, her rebellious husband is later granted Pevensey Castle by the victorious rebel Henry Bolinbroke, as new King to the throne, Henry IV.