Chichester Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameChichester Castle
Alternative NamesCisseceastre; Ciceastre; Cheechester; Cicestriae; Priory Park
Historic CountrySussex
Modern AuthorityWest Sussex
1974 AuthorityWest Sussex
Civil ParishChichester

Very early motte castle, probably did not receive masonry defences. The Earl of Sussex built the castle shortly after the Conquest to overawe the township and Rape of Chichester in the North of the Roman military settlement. It then passed to the Earls of Arundel. In 1217 the King ordered its destruction. The site then came into possession of the Greyfriars for use as a friary. The much eroded motte remains in a corner of the town walls. (Derived from PastScape)

the site of the castle, of the mount and bailey type of the Norman period. It was probably commenced by Roger de Montgomery, and we may imagine he threw up the keep mount which still exists in a fragmentary form. We have no reference to a stone keep, which, in order to allow for the settlement of the earth, could not have been built for many years after his time. Perhaps nothing but the original timber keep was ever erected. There was a chapel in the castle as early as 1142. Apparently it was against John, who attempted to seize the Crown during the captivity of Richard I, that in 1193 the castle was victualled with barley, beans, bacon, etc., the usual stores for a siege, and in the following year payment was made to five knights who garrisoned the castle for 24 days. We do not know whether John's forces besieged the castle, but in 1194 and 1195 we have accounts for the works of the castle and the repairs of the houses and chapel. In 1198 a gaol was built there. The castle was put in charge of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and sheriff of Sussex in 1195, and he continued constable until 1208, when Richard de Mucegros succeeded him. The citizens were ordered in 1215 to carry out the instructions of Matthew Fitz Herbert, the sheriff, for fortifying their city. The castle was probably never of any great strength and John, fearing it might fall into Louis' hands, ordered its destruction in 1216. The order was not carried out before the death of John, and it surrendered to Louis

Early in 1217, however, the castle was retaken and Philip de Albini was commanded without delay to throw it down and destroy it to its foundations. There is nothing now left but the keep mount to mark the place where it stood. (VCH 1935)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU863052
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  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
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Primary Sources

  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.), 1927, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the fifth year of the reign of King Richard the First, Michaelmas 1193 (Pipe Roll 39) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 41) p. 152
  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.), 1928, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the sixth year of the reign of King Richard the First, Michaelmas 1194 (Pipe Roll 40) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 43) p. 226
  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.), 1929, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the seventh year of the reign of King Richard the First, Michaelmas 1195 (Pipe Roll 41) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 44) p. 125
  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.),  1932, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the tenth year of the reign of King Richard the First, Michaelmas 1198 (Pipe Roll 44) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 47) p. 125
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1835, Rotuli Litterarum Patentium in Turri Londinensi Asservati (1201-16) (Record Commission) p. 79, 137 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1901, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III (1216-25) Vol. 1 p. 57 online copy
  • Stubbs, W. (ed), 1880, The Minor Works comprising the Gesta regum with its continuation, the Actus pontificum, and the Mappa mundi, by Gervase, the Monk of Canterbury (London: Longman Rolls Series 73) Vol. 2 p. 419 online copy


  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS