SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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The castle, though not that portion at which we have been looking, has been besieged on three important occasions; in 1102 by Henry I, to whom it surrendered. By Stephen, on its giving hospitality to the Empress Maud; and by Waller, who captured it after seventeen days' siege with a thousand prisoners. Artillery mounted on the tower of the church played great havoc with the building and it remained in a ruinous condition until practically rebuilt by the tenth Duke in the latter part of the eighteenth century.
We commence the ascent of the keep, which is the only part shown
to the public (usually on Mondays only) by way of the clock tower which once formed the entrance to the inner courts. We can now see the remnants of Richard Fitz-Alan's buildings (1290). A flight of steps leads to the Keep, the older portion of which was built by the same Earl; the walls are in places ten feet thick. In the centre a well descends to the storeroom of the garrison, which is cut out of the solid chalk. Over the entrance note the remains of St. Martin's chapel; from the window is a magnificent view towards Littlehampton. The openings in the floor suggest the use of boiling liquid for the heads of besiegers.
The Keep was once famous for its owls, the older members of the colony being known by appropriate names, such as that recorded in the story of the Ducal butler who convulsed the guests one evening by announcing, "Please, your
Grace, Lord Thurlow has laid an
egg."
The views in every direction are very fine and the nearer prospect proves to the observer the unrivalled position which the fortress held as guardian of one of the most important of the routes between London and the Continent by way of the Port of Littlehampton. In the distant view
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