Sutton Valence Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSutton Valence Castle
Alternative NamesSutton Castle
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishSutton Valence

Although the area within the keep was partially disturbed by excavation during the 17th or 18th century, the tower keep castle at Sutton Valence survives comparatively well as a ruined structure and in the form of associated earthworks. More recent part excavation, in the 1950s, has indicated that the monument will contain contemporary archaeological remains and environmental evidence, providing further information about the occupation of the castle. The monument includes a tower keep castle which survives as a ruin, Listed at Grade II, within an area of associated earthworks and buried remains, situated on the southernmost spur of the Chart Hills, on the eastern edge of the village of Sutton Valence. The castle enjoys panoramic views of the Weald of Kent and East Sussex to the south. Partial excavation has shown that the castle was built during the latter half of the 12th century, in order to control the road which led from Maidstone c.9km to the north to the channel ports of Rye and Old Winchelsea. The monument's most prominent feature is a square stone keep, now ruined, built on the southern edge of the spur, towards the centre of an artificially raised and levelled, roughly west-east aligned oblong earthen terrace c.100m by c.34m. The keep is constructed of roughly-coursed ragstone and flint rubble. Each face measures c.11m in length externally, and the walls survive to a height of up to 7m and are c.2.4m thick, with additional support provided at the corners by clasping buttresses. The keep, which originally stood to a height of c.20m, had timber floors, now represented by joist-slots visible in the masonry at first floor level. Built within the thickness of the southern wall on the first floor is a barrel-vaulted passage, and traces of a garderobe, or latrine, survive in the south eastern angle. A stair turret located in the north eastern corner provided access to the upper floors

Partial excavation during the 1950s showed that the entrance to the keep, situated on the northern side at first floor level, was at first protected by a small, rectangular masonry forebuilding, the foundations of which have been exposed. This was demolished around AD 1200 and replaced by a staircase which was later encased by protective walls. A short length of these survive at the north eastern angle to a height of up to 4.3m. The castle and surrounding land, then known as Town Sutton, was granted to William de Valence in 1265 by his half-brother Henry III as a reward for helping the king defeat Simon de Montfort's rebellion. The partial excavation of the monument indicated that the castle was abandoned by around AD 1300, after which time it fell into decay. The castle ruins were restored during the 1980s and the monument is now largely in the care of the Secretary of State and open to the public. (Scheduling Report)

The Norman count of Aumale, Baldwin de Bethune, probably built the castle in the middle of the 12th century. It was used as a residence for over 150 years by a succession of important lords and earls. Having passed down through various marriages, in 1238 the castle was owned by Simon de Montfort, sixth Earl of Leicester. As leader of the baronial rebellion against Henry III, he was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and his estates were confiscated by the Crown. Henry III then conferred the castle on his half-brother, William de Valence, as a reward for his support during the rebellion. The village of Sutton, or 'south town', became known as Sutton Valence. William's son, Aymer de Valence, inherited the castle in 1307 and stayed here in June 1315. Remarkably, three of the Valence household accounts have survived. These show that the family spent their time constantly travelling between their many estates. In the period between May 1296 and September 1297, Joan de Valence (William’s widow) spent time at eight different residences, including a month here at Sutton Valence. (English Heritage)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ815491
Latitude51.2123794555664
Longitude0.597750008106232
Eastings581540
Northings149120
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Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Tim Crowley All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • Elliot, Julia (ed), 2005, Heritage Unlocked; Guide to free sites in London and the South East (London: English Heritage) p. 48-9
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Kent (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 74
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 129-30
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 235
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 304
  • Guy, John, 1980, Kent Castles (Meresborough Books)
  • Smithers, David Waldron, 1980, Castles in Kent (Chatham)
  • Newman, John, 1976, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 558-559
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 317
  • Braun, Hugh, 1936, The English Castle (Batsford) p. 56
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Sands, Harold, 1907, 'Some Kentish Castles' in Ditchfield and Clinch, Memorials of Old Kent (London) p. 195-6 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 45-6 online copy
  • Hasted, Edward, 1798 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 5 p. 364- online transcription

Journals

  • 1957, 'Researches and Discoveries in Kent' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 71 p. 227-8 online copy
  • Sands, Harold, 1902, 'Sutton Valence Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 25 p. 198-206 online copy