The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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PEVENSEY                             299
of the castle, and one of its towers on the north has the ruins of a Norman upper story.
The Norman towers had floors sustained by massive beams, a later vault with moulded ribs has been inserted in the basement of the most northern, and in different parts there are details of almost every period up to Tudor times, but as a rule they are scanty enough. Immediately to the right of the gateway on entering, against the southern curtain, are remains of two huge fire­places ; one, at any rate, probably belonged to the hall. In the centre of the court was a detached chapel, whose foundations and font remain, while not far off is the well, fenced in and over­grown.
The castle has seen a good deal of fighting, and has passed through various hands. In 1144 it was held for Matilda, and besieged by Stephen in person during the period of terrible anarchy when men said that Christ and the Saints were asleep. In 1265 it was held by the supporters of Henry III. and attacked by Simon de Montfort the younger, son of the great Earl of Leicester.
But the most interesting siege was in connection with the excellent Sussex house of Pelham, that happily flourishes to-day. One of them, Sir John, was made Constable of the Castle by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to whom Pevensey had been granted by Edward III., and whose son was to found the Lancastrian Dynasty as Henry IV. In 1399 Sir John's noble wife, Lady Joan Pelham, held Pevensey Castle for the Lancastrians against the forces of Richard II., who eventually had to withdraw. Her letter to her husband describing the defence is of the greatest interest, particularly in these days when the idea of women taking an
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