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Amberley Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Aumberle; Amberle; Amburley

In the civil parish of Amberley.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of West Sussex.
1974 county of West Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Arundel).

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ02731322
Latitude 50.90894° Longitude -0.54049°

Amberley Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


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)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1377 Dec 10 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).
A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1447 Oct 28.

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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