Brighton Town Defences

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameBrighton Town Defences
Alternative Names
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityBrighton and Hove; City of
1974 AuthorityEast Sussex
Civil ParishBrighton

Town defences were provided for Brighton, or Brighthelmston, following attacks by the French in 1514 and 1545. A flint wall 15 feet high and 3 feet thick was erected on the cliff for a distance of 400 feet westward from East Street (TQ 311038) and continued by a parapet with embrasures as far as West Street (TQ307039). Four gates were included. (East Sussex HER)

Beacons on the Downs were kept ready to give an alarm (of attack) and on the cliff just to the east of the Steine was the 'Cage', an iron basket full of burning fuel swung aloft on a high post. It is clearly drawn in the view of 1514. (VCH Vol. 1) The earliest fortification was 'the Bulwark', called 'the werke' in 1497, at which date there was a sea-gate (porta marina), (Mins. Accts. Hen. VII) which suggests that a wall was already in existence, stretching along the west cliff; but neither the wall nor 'the werke' is shown in the view. (VCH Vol. 7)

Gatehouse Comments

The town wall was considerably strengthened (if not actually newly constructed. The suggestion that a reference to 'the werke' implies a complete wall is not entirely convincing) when the Blockhouse was built in 1559.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ309039
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 258
  • Gilbert, E.W., 1954, Brighton: Old Ocean's Bauble
  • Jamison, C., 1940, VCH Sussex Vol. 7 p. 245-6 online transcription
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1905, VCH Sussex Vol. 1 p. 518 online copy
  • Horsfield, T.W., 1835, ‪The history, antiquities, and topography of the county of Sussex‬ (Lewes) Vol. 1 p. 121- online copy


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86

Primary Sources

  • P.R.O. Mins. Accts. Hen. VII, no. 1474


  • Harris, R.B., March 2007, Brighton & Hove Historic Character Assessment Report: Sussex Extensive Urban Survey Download copy