Brougham Castle, Cumbria


Brougham Castle
c.1910
Publisher: Valentine

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In a picturesque setting beside the crossing of the River Eamont in Cumbria, Brougham Castle was founded in the early 13th century. This great keep largely survives, amid many later buildings – including the unusual double gatehouse and impressive “Tower of League”. Both a formidable barrier against Scots invaders and a prestigious residence, the castle welcomed Edward I in 1300. 
English Heritage

Brougham Castle is a medieval building about 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of Penrith, Cumbria, England. The castle was founded by Robert I de Vieuxpont in the early 13th century. The site, near the confluence of the rivers, Eamont and Lowther, had been chosen by the Romans for a Roman fort called Brocavum. The castle is scheduled as an Ancient Monument, along with the fort, as “Brougham Roman fort and Brougham Castle”. In its earliest form, the castle consisted of a stone keep, with an enclosure protected by an earthen bank and a wooden palisade. When the castle was built, Robert de Vieuxpont was one of the only lords in the region who were loyal to King John. The Vieuxponts were a powerful land-owning family in North West England, who also owned the castles of Appleby and Brough. In 1264, Robert de Vieuxpont’s grandson, also named Robert, was declared a traitor, and his property was confiscated by Henry III. Brougham Castle and the other estates were eventually returned to the Vieuxpont family, and stayed in their possession, until 1269, when the estates passed to the Clifford family through marriage. With the outbreak of the Wars of Scottish Independence, in 1296, Brougham became an important military base for Robert Clifford, 1st Baron de Clifford. He began refortifying the castle: the wooden outer defences were replaced with stronger, more impressive stone walls, and a large stone gatehouse was added.
. . .
Lady Anne Clifford died at Brougham Castle in 1676 and her grandson, Nicholas Tufton, 3rd Earl of Thanet, inherited the Clifford estates. He died in 1679, and over the next five years possession passed through his three younger brothers. Under the youngest, Thomas Tufton, 6th Earl of Thanet, Brougham Castle suffered particular neglect. In 1714, he decided that Appleby Castle was a sufficient residence and sold the contents of Brougham Castle for £570. Only the Tower of League was left untouched, but in 1723 its contents were also sold, for £40[41] By the 1750s, the castle’s only practical use was as a ready source of building material for the village of Brougham, which prospered due to investment from the Earl of Thanet. In 1794, a record of the dilapidated state of the castle noted that “much of the interior walls have lately been removed, also, for the purposes of building houses for the adjoining farmhold”.
Wikipedia.


PLan of Brougham (“The Castles of England: their story and structure”. James MacKenzie, 1897 p. 284)

This large strong, and magnificent edifice–now in utter ruin–stands at the confluence of the Lowther with the river Eamont, about 1½ miles from Penrith, having been in its day one of the most important of the Border fortresses. The entrance to it is along a series of arches by the river-side. One part of the ruin consists of three square towers, with the remains of their connecting wall stretching for a considerable distance towards the S.W., and terminating in a tower. In the centre of the main group rises the keep, “a lofty square tower, frowning in Gothic strength and gloomy pomp.” The turrets on its summit have disappeared, together with the parapet and galleries. The lowest storey has a vaulted stone roof with eight arches, supported by one centre shaft. It is of Norman origin, but the date of its building is uncertain. On the S. are traces of the Roman camp which stood here on the road from York to Carlisle.
From “The Castles of England: their story and structure”. James MacKenzie, 1897 p. 283 (available here

Durham Castle, Durham, County Durham


Durham Castle, Courtyard
Postmarked 1907
Publisher: Valentine

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The order for the construction of Durham Castle was given in 1072. The new castle would protect the Norman rulers from the rebellious local population and potential invasions from Scotland. Opposition to the Norman rule was a real threat, and even whilst the castle was being constructed, rebellion was close at hand. Waltheof, the Earl of Northumbria who was tasked with building Durham Castle, rebelled and was later executed.

The need to establish and maintain order in the North was crucial. William granted additional powers to the Bishop of Durham, giving them greater authority in return for their loyalty. This was an interesting political tactic that took power away from the local ruling elite and gave it to a representative of the king. They ruled what was effectively a state within a state. Holding the title of Prince Bishop, these powerful leaders could levy taxes, mint their own coins, have their own courts, raise an army and had responsibility for protecting the northern frontier. These were not just men of the church; they were powerful politicians and rulers who were often embroiled with the politics, threats, rebellions and scandals of the day. . . . As Norman rule became more established, the 13th and 14th centuries were relatively calm, allowing the Prince Bishops to enhance their wealth, status and power. The substantial income of the Bishops saw the beginnings of the castle’s evolution into a palatial residence, frequently remodelled to reflect changes in taste and fashion.
Durham Castle (Durham University)

The construction took place under the supervision of the Earl of Northumberland, Waltheof, until he rebelled against William and was executed in 1076. The castle then came under the control of the Bishop of Durham, Walcher, who purchased the earldom and thus became the first of the Prince-Bishops of Durham, a title that was to remain until the 19th century, and was to give Durham a unique status in England. It was under Walcher that many of the Castle’s first buildings were constructed. As was typical of Norman castles, it consisted of a motte (mound) and an inner and outer bailey (fenced or walled area). Whether the motte and inner bailey were built first is unknown. There is also debate about whether or not Durham Castle was originally a stone or a wooden structure. Historic sources mention that its keep (fortified tower) was built of wood, but there is enough archaeological evidence to indicate that even in the late 11th century when it was first built, it had numerous stone buildings.
Durham World Heritage Listing

Durham Cathedral was built between the late 11th and early 12th century to house the bodies of St. Cuthbert (634-687 AD) (the evangeliser of Northumbria) and the Venerable Bede (672/3-735 AD). It attests to the importance of the early Benedictine monastic community and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture. The Cathedral lies within the precinct of Durham Castle, first constructed in the late eleventh century under the orders of William the Conqueror.

The Castle was the stronghold and residence of the Prince-Bishops of Durham, who were given virtual autonomy in return for protecting the northern boundaries of England, and thus held both religious and secular power. Within the Castle precinct are later buildings of the Durham Palatinate, reflecting the Prince-Bishops’ civic responsibilities and privileges. These include the Bishop’s Court (now a library), almshouses, and schools. Palace Green, a large open space connecting the various buildings of the site once provided the Prince Bishops with a venue for processions and gatherings befitting their status, and is now still a forum for public events.
UNESCO World Heritage listing


Plan of Durham Castle, 1892, from Wikimedia Commons

In a volume of the publications of the Surtees Society, Mr. James Raine, the worthy son of a distinguished sire, has given to the archæological world a very curious poem, now first printed, entitled “Dialogi Laurentii Dunelmensis Monachi ac Prioris,” a work of the time, and which records the intrusion of William Cumin into the see of Durham. This was a period of extreme interest in that important see, once including the city of Carlisle and the territory of Teviotdale, and at the date of the poem [c.1149] still holding the Castles of Durham and Norham, fortresses of the first rank, even in a district which contained Bamborough.
. . .
The castle still retains many of the features and some of the buildings described in the poem. The ditch which cut off the fortress from the cathedral is, it is true, filled up, and the pasture ward to the east is built over and obscured, but the south gate, though rebuilt, stands on the old site, and is still the main entrance; and34 the wall on the right on entering still extends towards the keep. The keep itself is a late work; but the mound upon which it stands is a part of the original fortress, and the masonry is laid on the old lines, and in outline the tower no doubt represents pretty clearly the work of Flambard. A strong wall still connects the keep with the lodgings of the castle, and forms the front towards the river. The chapel also remains but little altered, and the walls and arches of the dormitory are original. The well is still seen in the open court, and is, or was recently, in use. Notwithstanding various repairs, rebuildings, and additions, there can be but little doubt that the Castle of Durham resembles in its general aspect the fortress of the Conqueror and of Flambard;

. . .
Queen-like the castle sits sublime, and frowns
O’er all she sees, and deems the whole her own.
Straight from the gate the gloomy wall ascends
The mound, and thus the stately keep attains.
A close-built citadel, piercing the clear air,
Outside and inside strong, well fitted to its use.
Its base, of heaped-up earth three cubits raised,
Solid and firm, the floor does thus support;
On which firm base the supereminent keep
Rises, unrivalled in its glittering sheen.
On twice two timbers stayed, are seen to rest
The buildings there, for each main angle one:
While round each half circumference are wings,
Each ending in a formidable wall.
Springing from these a bridge, by easy steps,
To the high battlements an access forms,
Where the broad wall all round gives ample path,
And thus the summit of the keep is gained.
Stately that keep! a circle in its form,
Splendid and strong by art, and by position fair.
Thence, downward to the castle, leads the bridge,
And offers easy access to and fro;
For broad its path with many a shallow step,
The base attaining by a gradual slope.
Hard by, the wall, thrown backwards from the keep,
Faces the west towards th’ encircling stream,
On whose high bank continued, it enfolds
With a bold sweep an ample pasture there;
From parching northern blasts protected thus,
And so curves round to the stern keep again.
Nor does the space within the wall embraced
Stand without buildings: such there are, and good.
Two porches to two palaces belong,
Of which the work to th’ artist brings no shame.
Here, too, a chapel fair six columns boasts,
Nor large, nor small, but fitted to its needs.
Here beds lie near to beds, and halls to halls,
Each for its province suitably disposed:
Robes here, bright vessels there, here glittering arms,
Here bread, there flesh, and tempting coin concealed,
And corn and wine laid down, and barley beer,
And the clear flour here finds its proper bin.
Thus on one side house joins to house, and hall
To hall. The other too is occupied.
The court alone is free, and there is seen
The well, full deep, with water well supplied.

Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II (of 2), by George Thomas Clark, 1884

The original church, which was reared over St. Cuthbert’s grave in 999, was standing when the Conqueror ordered the rebuilding, in 1072, of the palace of the Saxon bishops of Durham, which had been burnt down two or three years before. This edifice did not perhaps suit the taste or requirements of the proud and wealthy prelates who came after, and in 1174 Bishop Pudsey rebuilt the whole, with great additions, in the best late Norman style of military architecture.
. . .
It is built on a high rocky hill of horse-shoe shape, round which the river Wear flows, under steep cliffs, 80 or 100 feet below, serving as a moat to the fortress. The line of walls, with their five gates, extended round that side of the hill not occupied by the cathedral, enclosing the courtyard or bailey. The great N. gate, which flanked the keep to the E., and the space leading down to the town commanded the most important approach, and was rebuilt and much strengthened by Bishop Langley in 1417 ; it had double gates towards the bailey, and one towards the city, with portcullis and battlements. The old gate had a postern and a round tower at the end of the ditch, still existing. The second gate, called the King’s Gate, commanded a ford on the river, but has disappeared. Two others stood where are now Queen Street and Duncow Lane ;and the fifth, or water gate, being that of the outer court, stood in its ancient form until of late years. The mount on which the keep stands is 44 feet high, and was vaulted beneath. The tower was an irregular octagon 63J feet across, and four storeys high, with an entrance on the W.; the eight angles were supported by buttresses, and a battlemented parapet ran round the summit. Nothing, however, remains of this edifice but the mount, the vaults, and the outer shell ;it was probably the work of Bishop Hatfield in the middle of the fourteenth century, who also built the great hall.
The Castles of England: their story and structure, Vol. II, 1897

Halton Castle, Cheshire


The Ruins Halton
c.1940
Publisher: F Ball?

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Halton Castle itself was built circa-1070 by either Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester or his tenant, Nigel of Contentin, probably in the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The castle occupied a high promontory that offered a naturally strong defensive position. The only vulnerable approach, on the north-west side, was protected by a deep ditch cut from the rock. The intent behind the castle was invariably to secure control of the important crossing over the estuary (which from circa-1178 was served by a ferry) and to exploit the valuable riverine resources which included an abundant supply of Salmon. . . . It was rebuilt in stone in the late twelfth/early thirteenth centuries with the bailey being enclosed by a substantial stone curtain wall. Towers, a square one on the west side and a later round one to the north, were added in the subsequent years. A substantial Great Hall was built within the castle’s grounds perhaps enhancing a structure that had stood since the fortification was first erected. Foundations of a circular structure may be indicative of a shell keep.
Castles Forts Battles


The South View of Halton Castle in the County of Chester (from Wikimedia Commons).

The present castle dates from the 13th century but it is clear from excavations that it supercedes a motte and bailey castle which occupied the north western side of the site. This form of castle was introduced by the Normans and consisted of a mound of earth capped by a timber fortification. A ditch was cut into the bedrock on the east side and the attached bailey occupied the rest of the crown of the hill. The ruins of the castle at Halton survive well despite the later insertion of a courthouse on the site of the gatehouse and the creation of a folly garden within the ruins. It has within the western half of the interior the buried remains of an extensive range of late medieval domestic buildings as well as the remains of six lock-ups from the 18th century refurbishment of the site as a courthouse and prison.
Historic England

The importance of Halton was recognised at the opening of the Civil War, when a garrison was placed there for the king by Earl Rivers in June 1643, but a year after the post was reduced and taken possession of for the Parliament by the force under Sir William Brereton. Shortly afterwards the castle was dismantled and turned into a ruin. An ancient print reproduced by the Historic Society of Cheshire  shows the old fortress standing on a cliff over the river, with the town below it;the enclosure of high embattled walls is of circular form, holding nine large square mural towers, at intervals,the lower gatehouse being flanked by two of them. On the opposite side of the enceinte is shown a similar gateway, leading probably to an inner ward not seen. Ormerod too gives a sketch of the ruins as they may have been at the beginning of the present century. This view shows half-octagonal flanking towers to the entrance gateway, with the lofty Edwardian windows of John of Gaunt’s period.
The Castles of England: their story and structure, Vol II” James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p.175

Leeds Castle, Kent


Leeds Castle | near Maidstone
1900s

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The Royal Manor was originally built in 857AD and owned by a Saxon royal family. After the Norman Conquest, work began on building the first stone castle on the site. In 1278 the Castle became a royal palace for Edward I and his Queen, Eleanor of Castile. Major improvements were made to the castle during the reign of Edward I. The Barbican, constructed during this time, is unique in that it is made up of three parts, each having its own entrance, drawbridge, gateway and portcullis. The medieval Keep, incorporating the Great Hall, is called the Gloriette, in honour of Queen Eleanor.

In 1321, King Edward II gave the castle to his Royal Steward. When Edwards’ Queen Isabella arrived at the Castle seeking shelter however, she was refused admission and even fired upon by archers. Edward II was not amused and successfully lay siege to the castle. Six years later Edward was murdered but Queen Isabella kept the castle until she died in 1358.
Historic UK

Her grandson was King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty, and it was his son, King Henry VIII who ordered major alteration to the castle between 1517 and 1523. The castle was hereby transformed from a fortified stronghold to a magnificent royal palace. In 1552, after nearly 30 years of Royal ownership, Leeds Castle was granted to Sir Anthony St Leger for a yearly rental of £10, in recompense for his services to King Henry VIII in subjugating the uprising in Ireland. During the next two centuries, the castle changed its ownership numerous times. Unlike many other castles, Leeds was left relatively undamaged during the Civil War. It suffered however, major damages during the 1660s, as it was used as a place of detention for French and Dutch prisoners of war, who at one point set fire to the Gloriette, causing destruction which was only repaired in 1822.
Castles Today

After the 7th Lord Fairfax’s death in 1793, the castle was passed onto various distant relatives until in 1821 Fiennes Wykeham Martin inherited and commissioned architect William Baskett to survey the castle. The report was devastating. The mill and barbican were in ruins, the gatehouse and inner gatehouse in disrepair, the Maiden’s Tower was in imminent danger of collapse, the main Jacobean house was decaying and the Gloriette was more or less a ruin. Wykeham Martin decided to demolish the main house and replace it with one in the Tudor style. The resulting New Castle, externally changed little today, was finished by 1823, an extraordinarily swift process. The gaping hole that had disfigured the Gloriette since 1665 was repaired and the internal walls rebuilt in stone and the moat was cleared and cleaned. Unfortunately the cost of the rebuild caused Wykeham Martin financial difficulties and he was forced to sell the contents of the Castle at auction.
Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is a very peculiar structure. It stands upon three rocky knolls, of which two are islands in a lake of 15 acres, and the third occupies the central part of the artificial bank by which, as at Kenilworth and Caerphilly, and in some degree at Framlingham and Ragland, the waters are or were retained. . . . The domestic buildings occupied the north end of the two wards, and are replaced by a modern house, excepting only a vaulted cellar, which may be late Norman, and is certainly the oldest known masonry in the place, and a bracket which supported the ancient oven, and is placed near what is described as “Una coquina juxta pedem pontis de la Gloriet,” which kitchen was not long since removed. In this ward also, or rather partly in this and partly in the outer ward, near a building of the age of Henry VIII., is a very remarkable bath,—“balnea domini regis apud Ledes,” as it is designated, which was constructed for the use of Edward I. in 1291–2. This is now used as a boathouse.
Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II, George Thomas Clark, 1884


The Castles of England: their story and structure, James Dixon Mackenzie, 1896-7, pp.24

The Leeds Castle which Horace Walpole visited in 1752 is not altogether the place we see now, with its towers and walls rising so splendidly from the lake, which water Walpole, in his misleading way, calls “the only handsom object;” for in 1822, in place of the sixteenth century mansion erected on the central island by Sir Richard Smith, the existing buildings were constructed in the Tudor style, a great part of the inner bailey and of the keep having been the work of Henry YIII. The Len stream flowing through the property afforded the one great element of defence on which our ancestors chiefly relied ; here some twenty acres surrounding the castle might by means of sluices be turned into a lake if occasion required.

The situation of this fortress was a most suitable one in the days of water defence : it occupies two natural rock islands in the lake, a third artificial one being formed at the land end by the bank and sluices which controlled the water, and on which were placed the barbicans and the castle mill. The whole of the centre island was reveted with an outer or curtain wall, 15 feet high, rising from the waters, liaving four rounded bastion towers, and drawbridges at each end, admitting at the S. end from the barbican island, and giving passage at the N. point to the furthermost island, called the Old Castle or ” Gloriette,” which was the keep of the fortress. . . . The domestic buildings, which occupied the N. end of this island, are now replaced by a fine modern mansion, having vaulted Norman cellarage. On the E. side is the Maidens’ Tower of Henry VIII., before alluded to, and also the interesting bathhouse built by Edward I. in 1292, and now used as a boathouse. Baths were an innovation at the close of the thirteenth century, which Edward may have brought in from the East.

Entering the citadel from the modern mansion, one passes by the entrance through the Curfew Tower, which contains an ancient bell, that has sounded the eight o’clock curfew for four and a hall centuries and does so still . . . The bridge had formeiy two openings, with lifting bridges operated on by a central tower of two storeys ; it was called the Pons Glorietta. On the left, in entering the keep, is the chapel, built by Edward I. in 1380, having good Early English windows. The walls of these buildings rise out of the water to a considerable height, and are placed round a small central court. Much of the work is of the fourteenth century. This part was severely injured by a fire during its occupation by Evelyn’s Dutch sailors, so that a good deal is modern. There is, however, the great dining-hall of Henry VlII.’s castle, now converted into the kitchen, while the ancient kitchen has become a larder. Overhead is the Queen’s bed-chamber, with a line mantel- piece and an immense bed.
The Castles of England: their story and structure, James Dixon Mackenzie, 1896-7, pp.27-8

Pickering Castle, North Yorkshire


Pickering Castle | Devils Tower & Inner Moat
1950s
Publisher: Ministry of Works

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Pickering Castle is an 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, founded by William the Conqueror. In the late 12th to early 13th century, King Henry II founded the stone castle, when crowning the motte with a shell keep and encasing the inner bailey with a curtain wall, flanked by the Coleman Tower. The restored chantry chapel of 1227 and the foundations of the early to mid 12th century Old Hall, also stand in the inner bailey. In 1324-26 King Edward II replaced the timber palisade which encased the outer bailey with a curtain wall. The wall is flanked by a gatehouse and three rectangular towers, one having a small postern gate at its base, with its own drawbridge to cross the outer ditch.
CastleUK.net

Pickering Castle was originally a timber and earth motte and bailey castle. It was developed into a stone motte and bailey castle which had a stone shell keep. The current inner ward was originally the bailey, and was built between 1180 and 1187. The keep was developed into a stone shell keep sometime during the years 1216 to 1236 along with the chapel – there is a reconstruction of the chapel at the site. Between the years 1323 and 1326 there was an outer ward and curtain wall built, along with three towers. There were also two ditches, one situated outside of the curtain wall and one in the outer ward. After this a gatehouse, ovens, hall and the storehouses were built. The castle is situated in the Vale of Pickering and has a considerably steep cliff on the west side which would have been a great defensive attribute.

The original structure was built by the Normans under William the Conqueror in 1069–1070. This early building included the large, central mound (the motte), the outer palisades (enclosing the bailey) and internal buildings, notably the keep on top of the motte. Ditches were also dug to make assault on the walls difficult. The main purpose of the castle at this time was to maintain control of the area after the Harrying of the North.
Wikipedia.

The use of the castle was in decline by the late fifteenth century although it served periodically as accommodation for royalty who used the adjacent forest for hunting deer and wild boar. However, the defences were neglected and it took no part in the Wars of the Roses. By the Tudor period it was being plundered for its materials and quickly descended into ruin. Although in no fit state to be garrisoned during the seventeenth century Civil War, it was seized by Parliament after the conflict along with the rest of the Duchy of Lancaster. It was returned to Charles II upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 but the castle was never rebuilt and, with the exception of the chapel, it remained an abandoned ruin until taken into the care of the Office of Works in 1926.
Castles Forts Battles


“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II”, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The four mural towers already mentioned are all in the southern ward. They are, Mill Tower, Rosamond’s, the Devil’s Tower, and the Gate Tower. Devil’s Tower contains a postern. . . . The Devil’s, or Postern Tower, that north-east of the keep, is rectangular and of ashlar, and has exterior projection only. It is 22 feet broad by 27 feet deep. The basement is vaulted, and pierced by a postern passage. The inner door, pointed, opens in the bottom of the ditch of the cross curtain; it is now nearly buried. The outer door is walled up. It is pointed, of 3 feet 6 inches opening, and placed in a square-headed recess, 6 inches deep, 5 feet broad by 10 feet high, intended to lodge the bridge when up. At the foot of this door, outside, in two large stones, are two holes, 6 inches diameter and 18 inches deep, which contained the wooden axle of the drawbridge. Above is a central chain-hole for working the bridge.
. . .
No doubt the earthworks were taken possession of and walled, either late in the eleventh or early in the twelfth century, in the Norman period, and the mass of the curtains, with the keep and the Norman door, are probably remains of this work. But the whole fortress was rebuilt in the Decorated period, the mural towers added, the curtains raised, and the place rendered stronger. It is difficult to decide on the age of the gateways. They may be Norman or they may be of the time of Richard II., probably the former. The domestic buildings are said to have been of timber. They are gone. There is no known well. The castle mill was upon the river a little below the castle. The ditch along the south and west has been nearly filled up; beyond it is a hollow way leading down to the river, which may be old, and intended as a second line of defence.
“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II”, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The castle stands at the N. of the town, on the brow of the hill; the walls of it and the towers being continued round the hill side; in the words of Leland :
“In the first Court of it be 4 toures, of the which one is called Rosamonde’s Toure. In the ynner Court be also 4 toures, whereof the kepe is one. The Castelle waulles and the toures be neatly welle. The loggins that be yn the ynner Court that be of timber, be in mine.” The cross walls divide the area into three courts, and where they meet is the keep, which is multangular, and stood on a circular mound surrounded by a deep ditch. The Mill Tower, on the left of the entrance, and the Devil’s Tower, on the outer wall, close to the moat of the keep, and the Rosamond Tower (so called because Fair Rosamond is said to have been imprisoned there), in the outer court, three storeys high, are tolerably perfect, and are of Edwardian architecture, but there are some remains of earlier Norman work. There is a sallyport in the Devil’s Tower giving to the outer ditch. The chapel is poor. Lovely views are seen from various parts of this castle over the well-wooded country around.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. II”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 240

Corfe Castle, Dorset


Corfe Castle
Postmarked 1907
Publisher: The Pictorial Stationery Co. Ltd, London

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It may have been a defensive site even in Roman times and Corfe Castle certainly has had a colourful history. The first castle buildings would have been built of wood. In 979 King Edward was reputedly murdered by his step-mother so that her own son Ethelred the Unready could become King of England. In the latter half of the 11th Century the Castle was rebuilt in stone by William the Conqueror and for the next six hundred years was a royal fortress used by the monarchs of England and latterly their constables.
Corfe Castle

The story is this : Edward, after hunting in the neighbour hood of Wareham, thought he would turn in here and visit his stepmother and his brother Ethelred ; so, riding to her door, he was kissed by Eifrida, and given some wine ; but while drinking it, he was, by Elfrida’s order, stabbed in the back by one of her people. Edward, feeling the wound, started away, and soon after fell out of the saddle in a swoon when, his foot catching in the stirrup, he was dragged face downward for a long distance, and was at last picked up dead and greatly disfigured.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. I”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 241

The keep was built in the early 12th century for King Henry I, William the Conqueror’s son. It was designed to be impressive – and it certainly was. Standing 21m tall and on the top of a 55m high hill, this gleaming tower of Purbeck limestone could be seen from miles around. In the 17th century, as the Civil War raged around it, the castle stood firm. The Bankes family supported King Charles I (Cavaliers) against Oliver Cromwell (Roundheads). Lady Bankes defended it bravely during not just one, but two sieges, until finally she was betrayed by one of her own soldiers. After six centuries of keeping enemies at bay, an Act of Parliament was passed at Wareham to destroy the castle. Captain Hughes of Lulworth was given the job of demolishing it. His sappers dug deep holes packed with gunpowder to bring the towers and ramparts crashing down, resulting in the yawning gaps and crazy angles we see today.
National Trust

Notwithstanding the high likelihood of an earlier settlement, the first known high-status residence on the site was a Saxon hall. Archaeological evidence has placed this within the west bailey of the later castle and it had been established no later than the tenth century AD. With nearby Wareham, a Saxon burh (fortified town), providing the defensive facility against the Danes, the prime purpose of Corfe was to serve as a hunting lodge as by this time the Isle of Purbeck had been designated a Royal forest.  .  .  . Corfe Castle itself was founded by William I who procured the land from the nunnery at Shaftsbury. When initially raised it consisted of east and west wards. The former occupied the summit of the chalk hill ,which doubled as a natural motte, and was surrounded by a stone wall constructed from Purbeck limestone. The western ward was the bailey and was enclosed by a timber stockade hosting what is now known as the Old Hall – a two storey building consisting of a large chamber on the first floor and storage below. The distinctive herring-bone masonry of this structure suggests Saxon labour was utilised. Henry I started work on the Great Keep no later than 1105. This structure stood 22 metres tall whilst its position on the summit of the hill elevated it a further 55 metres above sea level. At the time of its construction it was one of the largest buildings in England and incorporated a Great Hall, King’s Chambers and a Chapel.
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At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, Corfe Castle was owned by Sir John Bankes, Lord Chief Justice. The castle was garrisoned for the King but most of Dorset supported Parliament and by early 1643 Corfe was an isolated outpost under the control of Lady Mary Banks. It was besieged on 23 June 1643 by a 600 strong Parliamentary army drawn from the Poole garrison and under the command of Sir Walter Erle. A determined resistance meant that after six weeks no progress had been made and, faced with the approach of a Royalist relief force, Erle withdrew on 4 August 1643. By late 1645 Royalist fortunes were in decline after destruction of the King’s armies at Marston Moor (1644) and Naseby (1645). With Parliament now having a free hand, Corfe Castle was under siege again by October 1645. Lady Banks put up a determined resistance but one of her officers, Colonel Pitman, was less enthusiastic. In February 1646 he made a deal with the Parliamentarians and helped their troops to penetrate the defences. The Royalist garrison was overwhelmed. Corfe Castle had proven a formidable challenge for the Parliamentarian forces and accordingly was one of the first fortifications to be ordered to be destroyed to prevent any further military use. Parliament passed the decree in March 1646 and Captain Hughs was tasked with the work. He brought a team of sappers to undermine the walls and towers leaving the structure in ruins. When the Bankes family were allowed to recover the site, they found a structure beyond economical repair and the family built a new manor at Kingston Lacey to serve as their home. Corfe Castle was gifted to the National Trust in 1982.
Castles Forts Battles


Plan of Corfe Castle, 1586 (from Wikimedia Commons

The entrance is by a grand bridge of four lofty arches over the ditch at the town end, and leads at once under the great outer gatehouse, with a large circular tower on each side of the gateway, the upper storeys of both having disappeared. Here is the entrance to the first of the three wards into which the castle is divided, and in which are six of the mural towers besides those of the gate- house. This is all later work, but across this ward, or bailey, stretched a curved ditch, 20 feet deep, attributed to King John, having on its S. side a breastwork mounting artillery, which commanded the ward ; and at the W. end of the ditch access is obtained to a second or middle gatehouse, which was like the outer one and had a drawbridge over a fosse of 50 feet breadth. Passing this and its portcullis the second ward is reached, which extends to the N.W. angle of the fortress where the salient is formed by the huge octagonal Buttavant tower. Between the second gate and this tower exists some very ancient masonry, which appears to be due to Saxon times, and where may have been the dwelling of Elfrida, the murderous Queen-mother ; it is at any rate older than the Norman keep.

All through this ward the ground rises rapidly to the inner ward, which occupies the summit of the hill, and contains the keep and dwellings. This part also forms an irregular triangle, of which the S.E. angle is of solid masonry, whence to its W. point at the great bastion — where five guns were mounted at the siege — runs an immensely strong wall, 12 feet thick, and without any towers, the natural strength of the ground not requiring ainy. Here are two gateways, the keep, the Queen’s tower, and the apartments and offices. The keep is quadrangular, 60 feet square and 80 high, all pure Norman work, having flat pilasters and originally an outside staircase (as at Castle Rising, Norfolk). The basement is covered, and the first floor contained a single large dreary chamber ; on the second floor was the hall, the floors being of wood ; the battlements are gone, but this upper part has the appearance of an addition. A large garderobe tower is attached on the S. side. The Queen’s hall, or tower, on the E. side of the keep is Early English with pointed windows (Henry III.).

In carrying out the slighting order an unnecessary amount of powder seems to have been expended, for the vast masses of masonry are riven and shattered and displaced in the wildest confusion. The towers of the outer gatehouse are blown forwards, and the vault is split, the E. curtain wall is broken down in parts, and on the W. not only is the wall down, but the mural towers are rent, and one is dislodged bodily.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. I”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 244-5

Taunton Castle, Taunton, Somerset


Taunton Castle
Postmarked 1905
Publisher: ETW Dennis & Sons

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Taunton Castle was at the heart of a great Somerset estate owned by the bishops of Winchester. Lands belonging to the bishops were scattered over seven English counties, and reached to the banks of the Thames at Southwark. But Taunton was their largest estate, occupying thousands of acres in the Vale of Taunton Deane. A residence for the bishops and a minster church evidently existed at Taunton during the Anglo-Saxon period. But it was in the 12th century that the present Castle began to take shape. It was most of all an administrative centre and a status symbol, which welcomed royal guests including King John and his son Henry III. Occasionally it was also tested in warfare. In 1451 the Earl of Devon, a Yorkist, was besieged at Taunton by the Lancastrian Lord Bonville. And it was at Taunton Castle in 1497 that Perkin Warbeck, the failed pretender to the throne of Henry VII, was brought before the Tudor king as his prisoner.
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The Great Hall continued to be used as a law court until 1858, as well as for public meetings. In 1831 a speech given there by the wit and orator Sydney Smith turned the tide of national opinion in favour of Parliamentary reform. But the Castle began falling into decay and was only rescued when in 1874 it was purchased by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.
The Museum of Somerset

…here, upon the edge of one of the inosculating branches of the sluggish stream, Ine founded his castle by throwing up banks of earth girdled with deep and formidable ditches, and no doubt further strengthened by stockades of timber, or at best by walls the workmanship of which scarcely deserved the name of masonry. Such as it was it was destroyed, that is, burned, by Queen Æthelburh in 722, who probably however left the earthworks, the better part of the defence, much as she found them. . . . Within this area, occupying its north-east corner and about a quarter of its extent, is the inner court or citadel of the place, roughly rectangular, and measuring about 123 yards east and west, by 73 yards north and south. Its east and north faces rest upon the main ditch and the river, and its south and west faces are covered by a curved ditch, artificial, which gives the eastern outer ditch a second connexion with the river, and divides the outer, called “Castle Green,” from the inner court. The position was a very strong one, having the river, and beyond it a morass, towards the north, or threatened side, and to the south a ditch, in part double, and always filled with water.
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What occurred here, and by whom occupied, or what changes took place between the reign of Ine and the end of the eleventh century is not known, but the Normans, accustomed, as far as practicable, to occupy the Saxon seats, soon perceived the advantages held out by the position and earthworks at Taunton, and William Gifford, who held the lordship as Bishop of Winchester in the reign of Henry I., seems to have decided upon building a regular castle. His successors, bishops of Winchester, were much here, and the castle received much addition at their hands, especially in the early Decorated period, of all of which traces more or less considerable still remain.
“Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II”, George Thomas Clark, 1884

The earliest archaeological features identified at the site include a large number of human burials; the majority were recovered from the area which subsequently became the castle’s outer ward, though several burials were situated within the inner ward. These burials provide evidence for an extensive late-Saxon cemetery associated probably with the minister church that was established in the late 7th century and is referred to in historical records. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the cemetery was active from the late 7th century up to the C11.
Historic England


Plan of Taunton Castle “The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. II”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 71

The entire enclosure, surrounded by river, stream, and moat, contains about seven acres, the inner bailey or citadel occupying its N.E. corner. Nothing remains of the outer walls of the lower bailey except a considerable part of the E. gatehouse, defending the entrance on that side to a road which passed through to the W. side, where the gatehouse has disappeared ; there were drawbridges at each of these entrances over the moat and stream, and on the other side of these were wooden barbicans, some timbers of which have been dug up. None of the buildings exist now of the lower ward,— Bishop Fox’s school being, of course, early sixteenth-century work. A good deal of the Norman building of the inner ward remains ; on the W. side is a portion of the rectangular keep, forming part of the wall along the inner moat, and measuring about 50 feet by 40, with walls 13 feet thick. The stone vaulting of its basement remains, and there was a staircase in the N.E. corner, from which extends the outer wall, forming, as at Leicester, the wall of the great hall.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, Vol. II”, James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p. 72

Taunton Castle was extensively modified during the Tudor era when its defensive arrangements were downgraded in order to convert it into a more comfortable residence. Large windows were installed in the Inner Ward Gatehouse and Great Hall. A Grammar School was also built within the castle’s walls in 1520 by Richard Foxe, Bishop of Winchester. The nearby Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 but the castle remained property of the church until 1551 when it was transferred into Royal ownership. It was recovered by the Bishops of Winchester in 1577.

During the Civil War Taunton was staunchly pro-Parliament but the wider area was in the Royalist sphere of influence. The populace hastily re-fortified the castle but, in June 1643, both it and the town were taken over by the King’s forces. They held it until 5 June 1644 when Taunton was taken by a Parliamentary force under Colonel Robert Blake. He fortified the town with extensive earthworks and by August 1644 he was besieged by Royalist forces under Sir Edmund Wyndham. They attempted to storm the town and succeeded in forcing Blake’s men to retreat into the castle but the arrival of a Parliamentary army under the command of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex led to the Royalists withdrawing. The respite was short-lived however as Essex was defeated at the Battle of Lostwithiel (1644) giving the King complete dominance in the area. By September 1644 Taunton was besieged again this time by George, Lord Goring. Various relief efforts enabled Taunton to keep on resisting and neither the castle nor town fell. On 11 May 1645 the siege was lifted and, with the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Naseby in June 1645, meant the threat to the town substantially reduced although one final (and unsuccessful) attempt to take the town was made in June 1645.

The Civil War left deep anti-Royalist feelings amongst Taunton’s residents who opposed the Restoration of Charles II and initially refused to hand over the castle. This resistance prompted the new King to order the demolition of the castle in 1662. The Keep bore the brunt of this and was reduced in height to its foundations.
Castles Forts Battles

St. Briavels Castle, St. Briavels, Gloucestershire


St. Briavels Castle, Main Entrance
c.1930
Publisher: Francis Frith

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Built in the early 12th century, it was the residence of the warden of the Forest of Dean – a royal hunting ground where the game was protected and the king alone allowed to hunt. The castle was in royal possession by the 1160s and was rebuilt, with the small but impressive keep, by Henry II (r.1154–89). The Forest of Dean was important for another reason – it was one of the centres of the medieval iron industry, small scale by present day standards but a vital source of supply for the manufacture of weapons, especially crossbow bolts. The crossbow was the favourite weapon of the mercenaries who were employed in considerable numbers by Henry’s son, King John (r.1199–1216), who built a new hall (now vanished) and an elaborate chamber block at St Briavel’s. . . . Under Edward I (r.1272–1307), thousands of crossbow bolts were produced at the castle in preparation for the king’s Welsh and Scottish campaigns. Edward took care to ensure that his arsenal was well protected, adding the massive twin-towered gatehouse to the castle in 1292.

With the conquest of Wales completed by the end of the 15th century, the castle’s importance declined rapidly and unused buildings were demolished in 1680. The gatehouse became a prison where those accused of committing offences within the forest area were held while awaiting trial. . . . The keep collapsed in 1752, by which time the great hall had also been demolished, and the east tower collapsed in 1777 destroying the adjoining buildings. The castle was still being used as a debtors’ prison until 1842. After centuries of neglect and decay, the surviving buildings were restored and rendered habitable at the turn of the 20th century.
English Heritage

St Briavel’s Castle survives well with its moat, curtain wall, gatehouse and royal apartments in good condition. The upstanding remains are a good example of an enclosure castle of the 13th century. Sub-surface deposits within the castle and moat will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the castle and the wider landscape. Notice boards explain concisely the history and functions of the various parts of the castle, and it can be visited by the public in its present function as a Youth Hostel, providing a valuable educational resource. The enclosure castle of St Briavels is recorded in the early 12th century, but is thought to have its beginnings in the 11th century as a motte and bailey castle. This long history of use and adaptation will provide evidence of changing approaches to defensive problems and castle building over time. It was one of a sequence of castles along the border, built as part of a defensive strategy against the Welsh. In the 13th century it was strengthened in a huge castle building programme undertaken for the conquest of Wales and the Welsh wars of 1277, 1282-3 and 1294-5. The gatehouse can be seen as part of the sequential development of castle gatehouses formed by projecting mural towers on either side of an entrance passageway which culminated in the grand castles of Harlech, Beaumaris, Caerphilly and Tonbridge.
Historic England

Fast forward a couple centuries to when King John would visit and hunt in the forest every November, always lodging at St Briavels Castle. He allegedly expanded and renovated the former fortress—funded by the taxes he increased and collected, as is expected of this notoriously villainous monarch. Some of the surviving rooms, hall range, and curtain wall are thought to have been built by him. Some time after John’s death, the castle was turned into a quarrel (crossbow bolt) factory, and soon it became the national center of quarrel manufacture, the resources provided by the iron mines in the Forest of Dean. The castle’s most iconic feature, its magnificent gatehouse, was built around this time by the order of King Edward I.
Atlas Obscura


Court Room in St. Briavel’s Castle & Interior of the Debtors’ Prison in St. Briavel’s Castle
“The Forest of Dean”, H. G. Nicholls, 1858, pp. 114-115

The outer walls and the moat are perfect ; the circumference of the castle, of horseshoe shape, is small, and the exterior of the outer wall does not seem to have ever had bastions, such as most castles of the fourteenth century possess, but to have had the whole area within crammed with buildings. The principal strength was in the gatehouse, as at Abergavenny ; it had two powerful square flanking towers, having rounded outer angles, three storeys each in height, and with a large oblong tower behind them, wherein the defence was concentrated and the numbers of the defenders were economised. One of the most remarkable features about the castle is a large room, somewhat resembling our old House of Lords at Westminster ; but before this part of the castle could be entered there were the two flanking towers to be carried, as well as the large one beyond, built on to them, now dilapidated ; and then there was, besides, the Keep, which fell down into the moat, late in the last century, and which had its own postern.

There are curious and intricate passages and staircases contrived in the walls of the entrance towers. The great Hall has, unfortunately, been destroyed, but the solar, or lord’s chamber, at the upper end, remains, and was some time ago used as a school- room ; it contains a fine fireplace, above which is the well-known chimney, with one of the most beautiful chimney-tops in England. At the lower end of the hall some servants’ apartments have been left, connected with one of the gatehouse towers, which is nearly perfect, and contains some small chambers of this period, each having its own fireplace and chimney.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, vol I”, James Mackenzie, 1897 pp. 376

Warwick Castle, Warwick, Warwickshire


Courtyard, Warwick Castle
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: Valentine

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Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a meander of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house.
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Caesar’s and Guy’s Towers are residential and may have been inspired by French models (for example Bricquebec). Both towers are machicolated and Caesar’s Tower features a unique double parapet. The two towers are also vaulted in stone on every storey. Caesar’s Tower contained a grim basement dungeon; according to local legend dating back to at least 1644 it is also known as Poitiers Tower, either because prisoners from the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 may have been imprisoned there, or because the ransoms raised from the battle helped to pay for its construction. The gatehouse features murder holes, two drawbridges, a gate, and portcullises – gates made from wood or metal. The towers of the gatehouse were machicolated.
Wikipedia.

Situated at a crossing point over the River Avon on the Fosse Way, an old Roman Road that was still in use in medieval times, there has been a fortification at Warwick for two thousand years. After the departure of the Romans, the Anglo Saxons established a fortified burh here which was extensive enough to withstanding assaults by the Danes. Around 1068, following the Norman conquest, a timber motte and bailey castle was built here by Henry de Beaumont who had been created Earl of Warwick. Rebuilt in stone in the latter half of the twelfth century, it was nevertheless poorly prepared for conflict when it saw action during the second Baron’s War (1264-7). Rebels from nearby Kenilworth Castle loyal to Simon de Montfort mounted a surprise attack on Warwick Castle and took the then Earl, William Maudit, captive.
Castles Forts Battles


“The castles of England, their story and structure”, James Mackenzie, 1897 pp. 362

Warwick is an excellent example, in remarkably perfect preservation, of the transition period, when the dreary prison-like stronghold, with it scanty accommodation clustered within the walls of the bailey, if not contained within the defensible building itself, was giving place to a more domestic type, demanded by a higher state of civilisation and refinement. Externally as strong as ever, with embattled and machicolated walls and strong flanking towers wherever necessary, the element of domestic comfort was being introduced, and magnificent suites of apartments and offices were now constructed under the main roof, “gradually preparing, as it were, for the time when the wall of enceinte would be dismissed altogether.” Berkeley Castle is another fine example of the same period almost equally perfect.

Warwick was built partly at the end of the fourteenth cent was not finished until the fifteenth ; and it is impossible to trace any part of the castle as erected by Turkill for William the Conqueror, which, again, may have stood on the site of still earlier buildings. It seems to have stood nearly 200 years, hut in the time of Henry III. (1256) it was besieged and taken, and a great part of it destroyed. In this state it lay until the time of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, who died in 1369, and who rebuilt it. To this period therefore, must be referred the Hall and the whole of the earlier portions of the domestic buildings. He also built the magnificent tower known as Caesar’s Tower, and probably the gateway.

His son Thomas continued the building, and erected the multangular tower (N.E.), known as Guy’s Tower, which he completed in 1394, the 17 Richard II. In the reign of Edward IV., George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, resided here, and employed himself in making additions to the castle. It is probable that he erected the entrance gateway on the N. side, the loopholes of which appear to be intended for artillery. He had other works in hand, when his career was cut short by his brother in 1478.

From that time little care seems to have been taken with the building, until James I. granted it to Sir Fulke Greville, who found it in a ruinous condition, the principal part of it being used as a county gaol. He expended a large sum in repairs, and in adding to both the E. and W. ends of the main building. Since then various alterations and additions have been made, such as the erection of a dining-room in front of the hall, and of some offices outside the barbican. In 1871 there was a serious fire, which burnt part of the private apartments of the castle, when a number of the curiosities and works of art were destroyed.
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The domestic buildings are on two main floors ; the basement, containing the kitchens and cellars, bakehouse, &c., the whole being vaulted and groined ; and the principal floor having the great hall, with the modern dining-room in front of it, communicating on the E. and W. with the State apartments and bedrooms ; and the chapel on the N.W. of the hall.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, vol I”, James Mackenzie, 1897 pp. 363-5

Bramber Castle, Bramber, West Sussex


Bramber Castle.
c.1910
Publisher: Valentine & Sons

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English Heritage: plan of castle

Bramber Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle formerly the caput of the large feudal barony of Bramber long held by the Braose family. It is situated in the village of Bramber, West Sussex, near the town of Steyning, overlooking the River Adur. Surveys indicate the Normans were the first to build a fortification in the area, around 1070. It served as the administrative hub of the newly created Rape of Bramber, and controlled the River Adur estuary. The castle was held by William de Braose, 1st Lord of Bramber, whose family originated from Falaise. Except for a short period when it was confiscated by King John (1199–1216), the castle remained in the de Braose family, until the male line died out in 1326, and it passed to the Mowbrays. Bramber was one of the poorest parts of Sussex , and while it remained a centre of administration, the Mowbrays did not live there; by the 1550s, it was recorded as ‘the late castle’, used for grazing. During the First English Civil War, Bramber was held by a Parliamentary garrison, under James Temple. In December 1643, a skirmish took place nearby, when a Royalist force unsuccessfully tried to secure the bridge over the River Adur. However, it is unclear whether the castle itself was occupied
Wikipedia.

The original construction of the castle was centred on a high knoll, on which was built a motte 9 metres (30 feet) high using material quarried from an encircling ditch. The motte is visible as a tree-covered mound in the centre of the site. It was surrounded by a wide bailey, or enclosure, entered on the south side through a stone gatehouse (close to the present entrance to the site). The motte, which probably held a wooden structure, was soon abandoned in favour of a three-storey stone keep and the ditch around the motte was filled in. Only one wall of the keep still stands to a height of 14 metres. The floor levels within the keep are indicated by joist slots in the masonry.

Excavation in 1966 and 1967 revealed that the area north of the gatehouse was built up with clay and chalk and that a series of buildings was erected in this area. A kitchen lay to the west. The area was used as a rubbish dump in the 14th century, when the buildings east of the motte may have become the main accommodation. The lower courses of these structures can still be seen. An outer ditch was dug around the knoll and an outer bank created to strengthen the defences, probably at the same time as the keep was built. The wall around the top of the knoll was renewed in stone, and parts of this impressive construction still stand to a height of 3 metres (10 feet).
English Heritage

Although now far inland, Bramber Castle was originally situated on the coast where the River Adur meets the sea. Built by the de Braose family it was confiscated by King John whose harsh treatment of Lady de Braose and her two sons led to the rebellion that culminated in Magna Carta. . . . By the sixteenth century Bramber Castle was ruinous and had suffered badly from subsidence. With stone being removed for road and house building this mighty Norman fortification all but disappeared. The site was briefly re-fortified during World War II with two pillboxes being installed.
Castles Forts Battles


Ruins of Bramber Castle, 17th century, (from Wikimedia Commons)

There is but little left of the Norman structure which, by the disposition of the frajiments remaining of its outer wall on the W. side, seems to have been adapted to the circumvallation of an ancient earthwork, whose mound, or burh, remains on the castle platform. These walls, formed of large and small stones and pebbles from the sea-beach, laid in very thick masses of mortar, have been built round the edge of the embankment, or rather escarpment, outside which the ground falls in the large and very deep ditch surrounding this wall, now thickly wooded ; outside this ditch was another strong and high earthen rampart at a much lower level, from which the ground level is reached. There is no gatehouse, but the entrance is at the S. end of the work, which is an oval of about 560 feet by 280, and near it remains a large portion of a lofty tower, which has been the dwelling-house and keep in one ; it is 40 feet square and about 70 feet high, was once filled by three timber floors, and from it some notion can be formed of this fortress of Braose. It was probably never inhabited by an owner after the death of the last William de Braose, though enough remained of it in the seventeenth century to allow of a Royalist garrison holding the place, which, in consequence, was demolished after the Civil War. The masonry has been very fine, dating about 1095, and in the upper storey is an exceedingly noble window.
“The castles of England, their story and structure, vol 1”, James Dixon Mackenzie, 1896 p. 68