The Legends of Lewes Castle

LocationLewes, Sussex, England (Google Map Location)
Open for visitorsYes
Owned bySussex Archaeological Society
Official WebsiteLewes Castle
Room’s availableYes (Wedding, events, filming)

As you move up the winding path toward Lewes Castle, you can feel the weight of history surrounding you. The castle’s stone walls have witnessed everything from medieval wars to smugglers’ plots, and the secrets within are just waiting to be revealed. The castle dates back to William the Conqueror’s conquest of England in 1066 and has served as both a stronghold and a jail over the years. And if that isn’t enough to entice you, there’s even a ghost story or two to add a touch of mystery to your visit.

Lewes Castle by Arild Vågen is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Lewes Castle History

The origins of the Castle can be traced back to 1066 when William the Conqueror invaded England. At that time, his loyal supporters built the Castle as a simple wooden fortress atop the Brack Mount in Southern England to keep the Saxons in check. 

Initially, it was built as a motte-and-bailey fortress in 1069, with a raised mound (the motte) at the top and a courtyard (the bailey) at the bottom. Although the iconic turret or circular keep of the Castle was added later in the second construction phase during the 12th century.

During the 13th century, Lewes Castle was at the center of a power struggle between two powerful English barons, Simon de Montfort, and Henry III. The two forces clashed in the Battle of Lewes in 1264, right outside the castle walls. Simon de Montfort triumphed, and the castle became his stronghold. But Simon de Montfort’s delight was short-lived, as Henry III’s son, Prince Edward, led an army to recover the fortress a year later. The fight was ferocious, but Prince Edward triumphed, and Simon de Montfort was slain.

Over the years, the condition of Lewes Castle deteriorated, and it was used for multiple purposes, such as a prison for smugglers and other criminals.

Today, Lewes Castle stands as a testament to the power and might of the Norman Conquerors and the wars fought for its control.

Lewes Castle Inside

As you enter the castle, you’ll find yourself in the central courtyard of Lewes Castle. To your right, you can see The Barbican, a small fortified gatehouse built to guard the castle’s main entrance. Directly opposite the Barbican is the Castle Museum housed in the castle’s medieval courts. The museum features various interactive exhibits, displays, a replica of the castle, and some intriguing medieval graffiti. 

Lewes Castle inside by Andy Li is licensed under CC0 1.0

The castle’s most iconic and impressive feature, The Keep, is over 900 years old and stands over 100 feet tall. You’ll have to climb a high spiral staircase to reach the top, but the views are well worth the effort. Views of the surrounding area, including the South Downs and the shore, can be seen from the top of the keep. The Keep also houses an ancient jail in the basement where smugglers were imprisoned during the late middle ages.

The medieval great hall, which was used for feasts, banquets, and other significant occasions, is one of the most important chambers of Lewes Castle. The grand hall boasts a big fireplace, towering ceilings, and spectacular tapestries from the 16th century.

Lewes Castle Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Lewes Castle:

  • Legend has it that the ghost of a white lady haunts Lewes Castle. According to folklore, the white lady is the soul of a woman who was imprisoned and died in the castle during the reign of Henry VIII. Some tourists claim to have spotted her late at night walking the castle hallways.
  • Throughout the year, Lewes Castle conducts an array of events, including historical reenactments, guided tours, and seminars. One of the most popular events is the Lewes Castle Storytelling Festival, which celebrates the art of storytelling via performances, workshops, and discussions,
  • Because of its location on a hill above Lewes, the castle is a popular point for observing the annual Bonfire Night celebrations, which take place on November 5th each year in Lewes.

Places to Stay Nearby Lewes Castle

There are quite a few hotels and inns in Lewes and the vicinity that are near Lewes Castle:

  • The White Hart Hotel – Located in the center of Lewes, just a short walk from the castle, this ancient hotel has a restaurant and bar and pleasant rooms with modern facilities.
  • The Roebuck Inn – Located in the village of Laughton, about a 15-minute drive from Lewes Castle. The inn features comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms and a restaurant and bar serving locally produced, seasonal food.

Pelham House – This exquisite Georgian townhouse is located in a quiet residential neighborhood of Lewes, just a few minutes walk from the castle. The hotel has magnificent grounds and a patio, as well as elegant rooms, a restaurant, and a bar.


Who owns Lewes Castle?

Lewes Castle is now owned by the Sussex Archeological Society, a registered organisation committed to studying and conserving Sussex’s cultural history.

Where is Lewes Castle located?

Lewes Castle is located in the East Sussex town of Lewes. The castle is located on Castle Hill, the highest point in town, with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. 

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

Rate the Castle

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

Leave a Reply