Notes: A small car park is situated by the church just a short walk from the remains of the castle. Note that it fills fairly quickly in good weather as the grounds are used as a park. Castle is poorly signposted.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
Very limited masonry remains of the medieval castle and its associated curtain wall. The motte, strangely situated at the very centre of the castle, is still visible but heavily overgrown by trees.
Although now far inland, Bramber Castle was originally situated on the coast where the River Adur meets the sea. Built by the de Braose family it was confiscated by King John whose harsh treatment of Lady de Braose and her two sons led to the rebellion that culminated in Magna Carta.
HISTORY OF BRAMBER CASTLE
Following the Norman invasion of 1066, sustaining the conquest relied upon good communications and support from Normandy. Vital to this objective was control of Sussex due to the natural harbours and relative proximity to Northern France. Accordingly William I divided the area into a number of ‘rapes’ granting each to his most trusted associates who in turn built fortifications in each to ensure effective control. Alongside Bramber Castle, which was built no later than 1073, fortifications at Chichester, Arundel, Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings all performed this function.
Bramber itself was built by William de Braose and was situated at the point where the River Adur meets the sea to guard the ‘Adur gap’ through the South Downs. The castle was still in the possession of the de Braose family during the reign of King John but the then owner, another William de Braose, was suspected of disloyalty and the castle seized along with Lady de Braose and her eldest son; both of whom were starved to death (either in Corfe or Windsor Castles). This harsh treatment ultimately resulted in the Barons revolt and the signature of Magna Carta. Thereafter the castle was returned to the de Braose family who held it until the mid-fourteenth century.
By the sixteenth century Bramber Castle was ruinous and had suffered badly from subsidence. With stone being removed for road and house building this mighty Norman fortification all but disappeared. The site was briefly re-fortified during World War II with two pillboxes being installed.