Pevensey Castle, Pevensey, East Sussex

Pevensey Castle, Eastbourne
Postmarked 1907
“The ‘National’ Series”

We know little about the early history of Anderida, the Roman fort at Pevensey. Tree-ring dating of wooden piles sunk into the wall foundations suggests that it was built in about AD 290. At that time the coastal defences of Roman Britain seem to have been systematically strengthened, and a number of other forts around the south and east coasts, such as Portchester, Burgh, Richborough and Lympne, were built or reconstructed.

After the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain in the early 5th century, Anderida’s walls continued to shelter a community. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 471 the fort was besieged and its population slaughtered by Saxon raiders. The fort was abandoned for around a century before it was inhabited again. Little is known about it in Anglo-Saxon period, though traces found by archaeologists such as fragments of glass suggest it was a high-status place. It may even have acted as a royal centre.

Pevensey’s history changed dramatically when, before dawn on 28 September 1066 – three days after King Harold’s victory at Stamford Bridge – William, Duke of Normandy, sailed his invading fleet of about 700 ships into the Bay of Pevensey. After landing, he immediately built a temporary fortification, almost certainly within the walls of the Roman fort, to shelter his troops. He cut a ditch across the peninsula to isolate the ruins from the mainland and repaired the walls to create a castle.
English Heritage

It is not known for certain when the stone buildings of Pevensey Castle’s Inner Ward were built but a series of regular payments by Richard I in the 1190s suggest substantial building activity at this time. It is possible the Great Keep was one of these buildings or, if it already existed, it was certainly substantially modified at this time. However, the castle was probably slighted by the forces of King John in 1216 during the First Barons’ War, when south-east England fell under the control of Prince Louis of France. The damage was repaired after the war and in 1230 the castle was granted to Gilbert Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. In 1246 it was given to Peter of Savoy who commissioned substantial upgrades to the site. This included halving the size of the Inner Bailey and replacing the former timber palisade with a stone wall. . . . The castle played no part in the Wars of the Roses and was allowed to fall into decay and ruin although its role as a regional prison continued. Inmates included a number of high status magnates including King James I of Scotland, who had been captured in 1406, and Henry IV’s widowed queen, Joan of Navarre. By the sixteenth century the castle itself was ruinous although in 1587, faced with the threat of a Spanish invasion, emergency repairs were made by Elizabeth I and a gun emplacement built within the Outer Bailey.
Castles Forts Battles

Layout of Pevensey Castle, from “The castles of England, their story and structure“, James Dixon Mackenzie, 1896 p.82

The Normans, who at once saw the value and took possession of Pevensey, probably were for a time content with the Roman walls as they stood, and with the palisaded citadel of the mound. At least, there is no certain trace of any very early Norman masonry. Indeed, the only masonry of Norman date at all now to be seen is a fragment of wall with a window, the remains of a superstructure upon one of the northern towers, and some patchwork in flints, and a few courses of stone laid herring-bone fashion, by which the face of another of the Roman towers has been repaired. Had the Normans of the eleventh or twelfth centuries constructed any eastern walls, gatehouses, or mural towers within the court, some trace of them would probably remain. The chapel, indeed, judging from its dimensions, was Norman, and the base of the font decidedly so; and it is possible that the shapeless fragments of rubble masonry which encumber the top and slopes of the mound may be of the same, that is, of late Norman, date. In truth, the castle, as the Normans found it, was a very strong place. The walls only needed a battlement, and even if this were surmounted, the entrenched and palisaded mound would be perfectly defensible so long as provisions held out.

Flanking the gatehouse, at a distance of 33 yards north and 54 yards south, are two grand round towers, each capping an angle of the curtain. The north curtain has a base or plinth slightly battering. The wall is vertical. There is no cordon between them. The north-west tower is 30 feet diameter, and has a basement, ground, and upper floor. The basement, though below the inner ward level, is on the level of the ground outside. It is arcaded, having six arches in its rounded sides, and one in its flat end or gorge. These arches have a drip of the double-scroll pattern, and between each pair springs a moulded rib, and one from each of the two right angles, eight in all. They are broken away, but their profile is seen, and the plan of the vault may be inferred. The entrance to this chamber is by a straight staircase from the inner366 ward, and at the foot of the stairs is a lobby on the left or west side leading to a postern doorway placed at the junction of the tower with the curtain. In the gorge wall is a fireplace, the hood of which seems to have been of timber. It is difficult to understand what this chamber can have been intended for, with its ornate details and a fireplace, and yet half under ground.
Mediæval Military Architecture in England, Vol. II“, George Thomas Clark, 1884

Kitchen, Mermaid Inn, Rye, England

Old Fireplace, Mermaid Inn, Rye
Publisher: Judges Ltd

Google Street View (external).


The Mermaid Inn is a Grade II* listed historical inn located on Mermaid Street in the ancient town of Rye, East Sussex, southeastern England. One of the best-known inns in southeast England, it was established in the 12th century and has a long, turbulent history. The current building dates from 1420 and has 16th-century additions in the Tudor style, but cellars built in 1156 survive.

Rye — A room in “The Mermaid”
Publisher: “Deacon’s Series, Rye”

Madeira Walk, Brighton, England

Madeira Walk, Kempton, Brighton
Publisher: Alfred William Wardell, Brighton
Google Street View (approximate)

Madeira Terrace was originally built as a covered promenade to attract tourists from London when the new railway opened in the late 1800s. It was built by borough surveyor Philip Lockwood and opened to the east of Royal Crescent in 1890, before being extended to meet the Aquarium in 1927 to 1929. It is considered the longest cast iron structure in Britain, running from the Aquarium Colonnade to the Volk’s railway maintenance building.
Brighton & Hove City Council: Madeira Terrace restoration

The Madeira Drive runs from the Aquarium to King’s Cliff, Kemp Town. The sea-wall is a fine work, about 25 feet thick at the base and 3 feet at the summit. The creepers and shrubs by which the wall is partially screened do much to relieve what would oherwise be a rather dreary prospect. An Arcade, about half a mile long, running eastward from a point near the aquarium, with an asphalted terrace walk on the top, and provided with seats, affords cover in wet weather; and near the eastern extremity is a large Shelter Hall and Reading-Room, similar to that on the beach at the foot of West Street. Refreshments can be obtained in the Shelter Hall, and time-tables, etc., consulted. A Lift communicates with the Marine Parade above. Here, too, is a Bandstand. The slopes at the eastern end of the Madeira Drive, known as the Duke’s Mound, are planted with shrubs, and the carriage drive extends as far as Black Rock.
Brighton Toy Museum (has more pictures)

Madeira Terrace, Madeira Walk, lift tower and related buildings (Madeira Terrace) were built between 1890 and 1897 to the design of the Brighton Borough Engineer, Philip Lockwood (1821-1908). They were constructed by Messrs J Longley and Co of Crawley, at a combined cost of £13,795 Earlier, between 1830 and 1833, the natural East Cliff at Brighton was made good by the application of a concrete covering, and was then planted up to achieve a green wall which is now believed to be the oldest and largest of its kind in Europe, with over 100 species of flowering plants recorded. The concept of attaching a cast-iron terrace to the cliff was inspired by the innovative construction, expressed at the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace of 1851. The idea was promoted by one of the great iron foundries of the Victorian period, Macfarlane and Co of Glasgow as early as 1874, but was rejected as being unworkable. By 1880, public funding had been arranged and the concept became a technical reality. Madeira Terrace was built under the terms of the Brighton Improvement Act of 1884 and was open to the east of the Royal Crescent by 1890, but controversy prevented its completion to the west.
Historic England

Hastings Castle, Hastings

Hastings | The Castle
Publisher: J. Davis, 24 Queen Victoria St, E.C.

Google Street View (approximate).

Hastings Castle is a keep and bailey castle ruin situated in the town of Hastings, East Sussex. It overlooks the English Channel, into which large parts of the castle have fallen over the years. Immediately after landing in England in 1066, William of Normandy ordered three fortifications to be built, Pevensey Castle in September 1066 (re-using the Roman Saxon Shore fort of Anderitum), Hastings (prior to the Battle of Hastings) and Dover. Hastings Castle was originally built as a motte-and-bailey castle near the sea. Later that year, the famous Battle of Hastings took place some miles to the north of Hastings Castle, in which William was victorious. In 1070, William issued orders for the castle to be rebuilt in stone, along with the St Mary’s Chapel.

Motte under construction Wikimedia Commons

Hastings Castle is one of the few Norman structures that can be dated with certainty. Not only is there is a picture on the Bayeux Tapestry, its narrative states William the Conqueror “commands that a castle be dug at Hestengaceastra”. The castle is also mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Domesday Book (1086). Finally the Chronicle of Battle Abbey stated William I built a “wooden castle” at Hastings. Together these sources strongly suggest the castle was started before the Battle of Hastings (which wasn’t fought until 14 October 1066) using wooden prefabricated parts imported from Normandy. William was probably accommodated within its walls prior to the battle and in the immediate aftermath it would have been crucial as a secure logistical hub ensuring his sustainability in the south east.

The original castle consisted of a motte, which would have been topped by a timber palisade and tower, with a large broadly rectangular bailey to the west. An outer bailey, probably used for livestock, was located to the east. The castle was built on top of a cliff overlooking the Saxon settlement, markedly different from elsewhere which saw Norman castles stamped on top of former urban settlements (good examples can be seen at Exeter, Totnes and Wallingford).

In 1216, during the latter days of the turbulent reign of King John, the castle was deliberately slighted to avoid it falling into the hands of Prince Louis of France. Louis had invaded at the request of the Barons opposing the King and the Royalist faction was keen to deny them a strong base near a significant harbour facility. The damage done is not known but some sources suggest only the timber elements (floors and internal buildings) were destroyed. Regardless the damage was rectified in 1220 when Henry III ordered the re-fortification and repair of the castle. Throughout its history the castle suffered from coastal erosion and during the thirteenth century particularly acute weather caused much damage. As early as 1287 the sandstone cliffs on which the castle was built started to fall into the sea along with a portion of the bailey curtain wall. The harbour also suffered resulting in a general decline in the economic worth, and thus the military importance, of Hastings. This led to infrequent repairs and, by the fourteenth century, the castle was ruinous. The situation was further exacerbated by French attacks in 1339 and 1377.
Castles Forts Battles

Hastings Castle
Dated & postmarked 1904
Publisher: The Philco Publishing Company, London

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