How many Sussex castles have you noted on your summer holiday day trips list? Let us help you out a little with those closest to Camber Sands.
Most people love a castle visit. History is one of the greatest triggers of the imagination and this selection of Sussex castles combines fortresses, ruins, royal connections and plentiful embattled histories.
East Sussex castles
Let’s work our way through them starting with castles closest to Camber Sands.
~ 5 miles from Camber Sands
On our doorstep in the heart of medieval Rye is Rye Castle, also known as Ypres Tower. Pinning down the details of the closest of Sussex castles to us can be tricky but this ancient monument is thought to have been constructed in the 14th century. It gained its name from John de Iprys who took ownership of it in 1430.
Having been used as a fort, prison and morgue, it is now one of two parts of the Rye Castle Museum. The tower exhibits include artefacts providing an insight into the role of the town and town life through the ages as well as its prison cells and hints at smugglers sailing through. A short wander to the East Street Museum is where you’ll find additional exhibits and that part’s open at weekends during British Summer Time.
Fans of all things paranormal will be fascinated to know that Rye Castle was taken off the town’s ghost tour because the caretaker was too scared to stay there overnight after one too many spooky moments. For those seeking decent refreshments after visiting Rye attractions, you don’t have to stray too far – the pub next door to the castle is one of our favourites!
At the time of writing, the castle and museum are closed.
Where to stay: The Beach Boutique in Camber Sands sleeps 4 guests
~ 6 miles from Camber Sands
Camber Castle is actually perched between Rye and Wincheslsea, and it features in many walks to and from Rye. In fact, you have to walk a mile to get there in the first place because there is no way to access it by car.
The castle was built by Henry VIII as an artillery fort and from above is shaped a little like a flower. To see inside the walls and the vaulted tunnels, join a monthly guided tour led by Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Where to stay: Dunscape in Camber Sands sleeps 4-6 guests
~ 17 miles from Camber Sands
The 14th-century foundations of Bodiam Castle have more than a handful of bloody tales to tell. It’s one of two moated castles in Sussex although the romantic essence of its watery surroundings conflict dramatically with its arrow slits and look-out tower.
Join a reenactment of sorts at one of the regular jousting events organised by the castle’s caretakers, The National Trust. Alternatively, the rugged battlements and original wooden portcullis of this Sussex castle lead into fairly well maintained castle ruins providing enough curiosity for family day trips. Make it a truly memorable experience with a ferry ride there and back along the river Rother in a former naval lifeboat.
At the time of writing, advanced booking for timed arrival slots is required.
Where to stay: Driftwood in Camber Sands sleeps 7 guests
~ 19 miles from Camber Sands
One of England’s most famous castles, Hastings Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1066. Originally built as a wooden tower with outer courtyard, he ordered it to be reconstructed in stone following his coronation later the same year.
It has seen much territorial activity over the centuries, which is largely to blame for its mostly ruined state. The church within is the best preserved section and was built around 1069 by Robert, Count of Eu, to whom William bequeathed the castle and Hastings town. There’s so much history to unravel, make time for a decent visit (and bring a picnic too).
Where to stay: The Peninsula in Camber Sands sleeps 6 guests
~ 29 miles from Camber Sands
Pevensey is perhaps the most famous of Sussex castles because it’s where William the Conqueror landed in 1066 and it has had an active role in the nation’s defences for centuries since.
The castle is thought to have begun as a Roman fort within the form of which William fortressed his troops before heading to Hastings. Its vital position on the coast and ease of reach from France saw it heavily involved in the turmoil that following centuries brought while gradually falling to ruin. Yet even as recently as the Second World War its walls were reinhabited (with some adjustment!). Ultimately, history and fascination abound here – let imaginations wander…
Where to stay: Marsh Mellow in Camber Sands sleeps 8-10 guests
~ 36 miles from Camber Sands
Welcome to the other moated castle in Sussex. And what an impressive one it is – worthy of the drive and you’ll enjoy a full day’s entertainment. Set in 300 acres of formal gardens and managed woodland, Herstmonceux Castle dates back to the 15th century and is striking as much for its moat and preservation as for its red brick structure. It is thought to be one of the earliest examples of brick construction in England.
Green fingered day trippers will fall head over heels for its various themed formal gardens, the impeccable roses, and tidiest of hedging. Kids love the wonder of the Magic Garden and a wend through woodland will guide you to the Folly.
At the time of writing, advanced booking is required and no tours are being led.
Where to stay: The Sail Loft in Camber Sands sleeps 4 guests
~ 50 miles from Camber Sands
Visit Lewes and you’ll quickly become aware of the dominance this Sussex castle has had on the town for centuries. Its position aligns with a Roman road and a Saxon settlement where the land projects from the Sussex Downs towards the River Ouse.
One motte became two when the construction switched to stone at which time the gatehouse was added with the barbican following some 200 years later. It is preserved today by a charity and team of volunteers who will enthusiastically steer you on your explorations and answer your questions.
At the time of writing, the castle and its grounds are closed.
Where to stay: Harbour Lights in Camber Sands welcomes 6 guests
So days out with the kids in East Sussex are sorted, if you like castles! And if you want to mix it up a bit ask us for our favourite family day trip ideas when booking one of our Camber Sands holiday cottages.
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