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Ford Castle, Sussex

In the civil parish of Ford.
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: TQ00180370
Latitude 50.82418° Longitude -0.57927°

Ford Castle, Sussex has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a Siege Work although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Irregularities of the surface of the ground near Ford church mark the site of a castle that is supposed to have been erected in the 12thc. It was defended by a moat fed by the incoming tide, and had a large park attached. (Park Farm SU 98350207 OS 1" 1813). Some of its foundations were laid bare during the construction of the now disused Chichester and Arundel Canal (Red Guide 1959).
Foundations of a strong house, possibly the castle of the Bohuns found at Ford by Mr Emson of Littlehampton (SAC 1911).
Near to Ford church are the foundations of a large mansion, surrounded by a fosse (Horsfield 1835)
Ford castle was built probably by Savaric Fitz Cana after the transfer to him of the manor of Ford about the year 1102. The park attached was of considerable extent and was valued in 1575 at #10 per annam. (Park not shown on 18c and 19c maps inspected) (Elwes 1876)
TQ 00180370. The site of the castle was probably upon a tongue of land a few feet higher than the surrounding reclaimed mud flats, which extends eastwards from the modern road and upon which stands Ford church.
The disused canal which crossed this higher ground has been filled in and the ground is under pasture and no foundations remains are visible.
The ground west of the church is uneven and hummocky but no intelligible pattern can be made out, except for a large dug ditch running parallel to the footpath to the church, extending W for 70.0m and being 8.5m wide and 2.0m deep. There are no banks and there is no indication as to how the spoil was disposed of. Age and purpose are uncertain (F1 ASP 09-FEB-62).
The earthworks at Ford have been examined and appear to consist of much disturbed house platforms in the vicinity of the church. These have been cut through by the now-disused Arun to Chichester Canal (Lin 36 - TQ 00 SW 63). When this was constructed in 1818 it was reported that the foundations of considerable buildings were discovered at Ford. Apparently the church was a roofless ruin at one time. There used to be a local saying that 'Ford church was lost among the stinging nettles'. There are further earthworks on the west side of the Ford-Climping road (Burliegh 1971)
Discussion of the documentary evidence for Ford manor. As late as 1525 there is good evidence for a prosperous and fairly populous community in the area but by the early 17th century the site of the village was virtually deserted. However, rather than depopulation, there appears to have been a shift in settlement away from the site around the village church to farms situated among the fields. The earthworks have recently been surveyed and a schematic plan drawn up based on a detailed survey of 1608 (Gardiner). (PastScape)

Before 1273 the Bohuns built a substantial house on a raised squarish plot west of the church which was called the court garden in the early 17th century. Foundations were discovered there in 1818 during the building of the canal, and indeterminate earthworks were still visible in the 1980s. A garden or gardens were mentioned in 1284 and later, but although once surrounded by ditches the house is unlikely to have been moated as has been claimed. It had been demolished by 1608. Caen stone seen in 1900 and later at Ford Place and in boundary walls nearby may have come from it. (VCH 1997)

Suggested as possible siege castle of Arundel. Located near church, associated with a deer park, and seems to have been a substantial masonry building, with a partial moat and in all likelihood crenellations and other martial architectural features. It is unclear where the suggestion of this as a siege castle came from; was it just on place-name evidence? The site certainly had longer life than just a siege castle if it was ever such a thing.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

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