Verdley Castle, Fernhurst

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameVerdley Castle, Fernhurst
Alternative NamesFordley Castle
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishFernhurst

Verdley Castle was possibly once a 13th century hunting tower and became ruined in the 16th century. Remains possibly of the keep existed in the 19th century partly surrounded by a moat. The foundations were dug out about 60 years ago (Ellis; Mackenzie; VCH).

Foundations measure 68' by 33', the walls are 6' thick without buttresses. The enclosing swampy ground suggests a former moat (Turner).

The site of the building, marked by humus-covered mounds of rubble and random blocks of sandstone, is at SU 90352579, upon a small sand plateau on the lower northern slope of Henley Hill. A small stream flows either side giving marshy ground below the site. Above on the SW side are steeper wooded slopes.

The ground is so contoured that the site could never have been moated (Field Investigators Comments–F1 ASP 02-JUN-70).

The site lies within a coniferous plantation and is mainly under mature trees. There are no obvious, visible remains of a building or building platform. Recent forestry activities, including the removal of young birch trees growing around the conifers, has disturbed the ground quite heavily in places, as has animal burrowing (possibly badgers). Scattered fragments of red brick and greenish-grey, West Country slate found in the disturbed top soil provide some evidence of a former building, although it should be noted that records suggest the medieval building was stone-built (English Heritage Alternative Action Report–MPPA: Ros Parker. Site Visit: 3/Jun/1996.). (PastScape)

The manor of VERDLEY presumably belonged to the Dawtreys, as in 1317 it was settled on Eve (Dawtrey) and Edward St. John, her (third) husband, and her heirs. At her death in 1354 it passed to John de Shelvestrode, her son by her first husband Roger de Shelvestrode

His son Sir Roger made a conveyance of the manor, evidently for a settlement, in 1360, and it passed by the marriage of Joan, daughter and heir of John de Shelvestrode, to John Aske, of Yorkshire, who died in 1397. In this family it descended for 150 years, Sir Robert Aske dying seised thereof in 1531. His son John conveyed his Sussex manors, including Verdley, to Henry VIII in 1542, and in 1549 it was given by Edward VI to Sir Anthony Browne. From this time it descended with Cowdray. The Park of Verdley is mentioned in connexion with the grants in 1542 and 1547 and is shown as impaled, on the maps of Saxton (1575) and Speed (1616). (VCH 1953)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU903257
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  • Jones, R., 2003, 'Hastings to Herstmonceux: the castles of Sussex' in Rudling, D. (ed) The archaeology of Sussex to AD2000 (Great Dunham: Heritage Marketing and Publications) p. 171-8
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Sussex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 69
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 135-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 474 (possible)
  • Salzman, L.F. (ed), 1953, VCH Sussex Vol. 4 p. 55 online transcription
  • Tudor, A.M., 1934, Fernhurst: The Story of a Sussex Village p. 22
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 89 online copy
  • Elwes, Dudley George Cary, 1876, A history of the Castles, Mansions, and Manors of Western Sussex (London: Longmans) p. 90 online copy
  • Ellis, W.S., 1885, The Parks and Forests of Sussex p. 210 online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1786, Antiquities of England and Wales Vol. 8 p. 135-6 online copy


  • 1934, Sussex County Magazine Vol. 8 p. 338
  • Turner, Rev Edward, 1860, ' Verdley Castle' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 12 p. 265-266 online copy