Thursday, 17 January 2013
From Herstmonceaux return to the A271 and head east to Hailsham. In Hailsham turn left down the A295 then left again along the A22. At Polegate turn right along the A27, passing Lewes and Brighton before turning north along the A283 toward Steyning. Just before entering Steyning find Bramber Castle on the right.
At Bramber you will see the impressive ruins of the great Norman castle built by William de Braose. The powerful fortress was built to guard the Adur Valley against invaders seeking to use this route through the South Downs. Smaller sea-going ships could reach Bramber and there was a small dock just below the castle walls. The fortress was never put to the test and by the 17th century was obsolete. The defences were destroyed with gunpowder by Parliament after the Civil War to prevent it from serving as a focus for a rising by Sussex royalists. Adjacent to the entrance to the ruins is the church of St Nicholas. This was built at the same time as the castle to serve as the chapel to the inhabitants. Its tower was likewise brought down by the Roundheads, but unlike the castle it was subsequently restored. This is a charming little place of worship which contains much original Norman stonework.
Leave Bramber along the lane to Upper Beeding, then join the A2037 north toward Horsham. After about 1 mile turn right along the lane to Edburton, Fulking and Poynings to reach the A23. Turn right to Pyecombe, and just past this village take the A273 north toward Burgess Hill, turning right along the B2112 to Ditchling, and then continuing east along the B2116 to Lewes.
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