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Cowdray Castle

Location

Sussex_west Map

OS Ref: SU 890 216

Last Visited: 2017

The Great Hall

The Great Hall

When is a castle not a castle?

In the case of Cowdray Castle, when it is a very fine Tudor manor house.

Although crenellated it was never intended to be used as a defensive structure. These days it is often referred to as Cowdray House or, more confusingly as Cowdray Heritage.

The Coat of Arms in the Porch

The Coat of Arms in the Porch

Built on the site of an earlier fortified manor house, the current building dates to the 1520s. It was built by an uncle of Henry VII called Sir David Owen.

Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I are known to have visited Cowdray in its heyday.

However, disaster struck on 24 September 1793 when a fire started in the carpenters' workshop in the North Gallery and most of the property was destroyed.

Currently (2018) it is only open for pre-booked guided tours. For times, admission prices, etc. please see the official site.

Cowdray Castle

Cowdray Castle

It remained an untouched ivy clad ruin until a restoration project was carried out between 1909-1914 by the 1st Viscount Cowdray.

Following a major preservation and conservation project in 2006 the ruins were opened to visitors on 31 March 2007. They are currently in the care of the Cowdray Heritage Trust, an independent charity now responsible for managing the site.

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • Cowdray Heritage
      The official site. Best on mobiles.
      https://www.cowdray.co.uk/historic-cowdray/
    • Cowdray House
      Wikipedia article
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowdray_House

St Ann's Castle

Location

Sussex_west Map

OS Ref: SU 888 214

Last Visited: 2017

The House

The House

Within walking distance of Cowdray Castle, on St Ann's Hill are the scant remains of another castle.

St Ann's Castle, also known as Midhurst Castle or the De Bohun Castle, can at least to some extent justify the name as it seems possible that a timber and earthwork structure was built here by the Normans soon after the conquest of England in 1066. This was soon abandoned, however.

The Curtain Wall

The Curtain Wall

The site remained empty until around 1159 when the local Lord of the Manor, one Geldwin fitzCana, built a fortified manor house on the site. He occupied it until his death in 1187, when once again the site was abandoned.

It remained so until 1913 when the site was hastily dug over by an unskilled workforce on the instructions of the 1st Viscount Cowdray. The wall lines of the house were discovered, and he decided to have these built these up to above ground level.

What we see today is thus an early twentieth century representation of the plan of a twelfth century house on the site of a temporary post-conquest castle.

When is a castle not a castle?

External Links and References

  • External Links

    • St Ann’s Hill
      Leaflet produced by the Midhurst Historical Society.
      http://www.midhurstsociety.org.uk/web/stannsleaflet.pdf