Amberley Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Bishop)

There are major building remains

NameAmberley Castle
Alternative NamesAumberle; Amberle; Amburley
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishAmberley

A manor house of the Bishops of Chichester, still retained in the south east corner of the present castle, dates to circa 1140. This building was altered in 1200 and 1330. Bishop William Rede gained a licence to crenellate in 1377, and built the present castle between 1377-1382. The castle is a quadrilateral plan with a right-angled south east corner, originally with internal corner towers of which only the north west and south east survive. In the centre of the north wall is a projecting garderobe, the projection east of it being the kitchen. In the south wall two projecting semi-circular towers flank the gateway. The curtain wall is surrounded by a dry moat which always lacked a drawbridge. The occupied parts of the castle in the south east corner were remodelled in the 16th century, and have been altered several times since, particularly in 1927. A cottage occupies the possible site of the chapel. The ruins of the free-standing Great Hall occupy the eastern half of the site, and are mainly late 14th century. Bishop Sherburn was the last Bishop to occupy the castle as a residence, it being leased thereafter. The upper walls have been restored and recrenellated since the 1643 slighting. (PastScape)

Mainly C14, altered in the C16 and 1927 but also incorporating regains of an earlier stone manor house of the Bishops of Chichester dating from 1140, 1200 and 1330 in the south-east corner of the castle. In 1377, Bishop William Rede (1368-1385) obtained a licence to crenellate and erected the present building between that date and at least 1382. The building consists of a parallelogram with walls of ashlar 42 ft high, which on the north and west sides stand upon sand rock between 10 and 20 ft high. In the angles of the parallelogram were square towers not projecting, of which only those in the north-west and south-east angles survive, the latter dating more or less entirely from before Bishop Rede's rebuilding

In the centre of the north wall is a small rectangular projection, which was used for garderobes, and to the east of this a large rectangular projection which was the kitchen. In the centre of the south wall are 2 semi-circular towers 58 ft high flanking the gateway with castellated parapets over them. The gateway comprises a four-centred carriage arch with chamfered jambs and a portcullis groove. On the inner side buttresses flank the arch. Above is a room with a castellated parapet over it. Outside the south gate and walls of the Castle is a dry moat which never had a draw-bridge. The south walls have no ws. except loop ws. in the towers flanking the gate. In the north wall are cross-shaped loop ws. and 2 pointed ws. of 2 trefoil-headed lights each; also doorways, fireplaces and in some places remains of the crenellation with a parapet walk behind it. To the south of the projecting kitchen are remains of William Rede's Great Ball with 4 pointed archways. In the north-west corner are the remains of the angle tower of 3 s. The occupied parts of the Castle have been much adapted by Bishop Sherburn in the C16 and at various dates since including the present century. They are partly of stone and partly of timber-framing with some of the surface plastered. Tiled roof. Casement ws. To the east of the gateway is a range of 2 s. and 3 ws. with 2 gables, which is a cottage, and beyond this a modern portion on the possible site of the Chapel. The exterior of the main portion of the house which projects to the north-west from the south-east corner has been modernised in 1927 and has this date on the rwh. The interior of the room known as the Queen's Room contains paintings of Cassandra and Tomyris and other figures, dating from Bishop Sherburn's time, which have been attributed to Lambert Bernardi or Theodore Bernardi of Amsterdam, who came to England in 1519 and is also said to have executed 2 large paintings for Chichester Cathedral. The main staircase dates from the mid C17. The uninhabited portions are scheduled as an Ancient Monument. The last Bishop of Chichester to occupy the building was Bishop Sherburn (1508-1536) who also carried out a good many alterations and adaptations. After Bishop Sherburn's time the Castle was let. In 1643 it was dismantled by General Waller on account of the Royalist sympathies of the then tenant. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceTQ027132
Latitude50.9089393615723
Longitude-0.540489971637726
Eastings502730
Northings113220
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Books

  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 310
  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 297-300, 439
  • Arscott, D., 2003, Amberley Castle 1103-2003: A Celebration of 900 Years (Dovecote Press)
  • 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. 15-16
  • Thompson, M.W., 1998, Medieval bishops' houses in England and Wales (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing) p. 168, 172
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 243-4
  • James, T.B., 1990, The Palaces of Medieval England (London; Seaby) p. 22
  • Guy, John, 1984, Castles in Sussex (Phillimore) p. 12-19
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 469
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 178
  • Nairn, Ian and Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1965, Buildings of England: Sussex (Harmondsworth) p. 81
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Morewood, Caroline C., 1910, 'Introductory Chapter' in Rait, R.S. (ed), English Episcopal Palaces (Province of Canterbury) (London; Constable & Co) p. 22-23 online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 60-1 online copy
  • Elwes, Dudley George Cary, 1876, A history of the Castles, Mansions, and Manors of Western Sussex (London: Longmans) p. 7-10 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 311, 418 online copy
  • Dallaway, James, 1832 (2edn), A History of the Western Division of the County of Sussex Vol. 2 Part 1 p. 228-9
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 2 p. 285

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Coke, Karen, 2007, 'The Amberley Castle panels and a drawing by William Henry Brooke, Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 145 p. 137-152 view abstract
  • Gravett, K., 1985, 'Amberley Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 142 p. 60–1
  • Peckham, W.D., 1935, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 92 p. 409 (slight) online copy
  • Peckham, W.D., 1928, 'Amberley Castle' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 69 p. 226-227
  • Peckham, W.D., 1923, 'Amberley Castle Measurements' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 64 p. 128-133
  • Bridgeman, Charles G.O., 1922, 'Amberley Castle Measurements' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 63 p. 231-234
  • Peckham, W.D., 1921, 'The Architectural History of Amberley Castle' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 62 p. 21-63
  • Clarkson, Rev G., 1865, 'Notes on Amberley, its Castle, Church etc' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 17 p. 185-239 online copy
  • Blaauw, William Henry, 1861, 'Royal Licenses to Fortify Towns and Houses in Sussex' Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 13 p. 104-117 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 76 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1927, Calendar of Charter Rolls 5 Henry VI - 8 Henry VIII, AD 1427-1516, with an appendix, 1215-1288 Vol. 6. (HMSO) p. 94-5

Other

  • Payne, Naomi, 2003, The medieval residences of the bishops of Bath and Wells, and Salisbury (PhD Thesis University of Bristol) Appendix B: List of Medieval Bishop's Palaces in England and Wales (available via EThOS)