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Sunday April 30th 2017

Bletchingley Castle

Where?

Bletchingley Castle is off the High Street at Castle Square sitting on top of the Greensand Ridge overlooking the Weald and the motorway to the South.

When/Who?

The castle is shown in the Domesday Book as being owned by Richard FitGilbert (aka Richard de Clare) given as a reward from William the Conqueror. Today it can be seen that the castle had many steep banks and ditches in a ring design (but not a mottee and bailey) suggesting that it was a very valuable property, possibly on the site of an iron-age hill fort. Excavations in 1980 suggested that the building was a reserve stronghold mainly used to store munitions. It had a large main room (10m x 20m) with two side chambers used as an undercroft. It was basically a square plain building with little in the way of architectural ornamentation with entry most likely via the first floor. It would have been surrounded by a deer park.

Who Stayed there? 

Edward I is known to have passed through Bletchingley on the way to or from the Battle of Lewes in May 1264, and is likely to have stayed at the Castle.

How did they end up in ruins? 

The Battle of Lewes was part of the Second Baron’s War and the then current owner of Bletchingley, FitzGilbert, had sided with the Barons. Unfortunately for him this was not on the same side as Edward who is believed to have ordered the destruction of the castle as he passed through. Pottery found on the site dates from the end of the 13th century corroborating this view. Much of the rubble has been removed over the centuries with some of the remains being made into scenic rockery for the Victorian house, Castle Hill. It is still possible to see the castle outline and some remnants today, albeit over-grown.

Can the castle be visited now? 

Bletchingley Castle is no more but the earthworks can be seen from the footpath leading around the south of the site.