Featured image of Knepp Castle

The History Of Knepp Castle

LocationWest Grinstead, West Sussex, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsNo
Owned byCharlie Burrell
Official WebsiteKnepp Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Events)

Dating back to the 12th Century, Knepp Castle was built by William de Braose, an ardent supporter of King William. The castle was built in the view of cementing a Norman grip over the Ardur Valley, an important route for trade. The renewed castle estate has picturesque grounds with arresting features to attract the eyes of nature lovers and to the keen ears of history enthusiasts, presently owned by Charles Burrell.


Knepp Castle in ruins
Knepp Castle, July 2021”, by Richard Nevell, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Knepp Castle was primarily used as a hunting lodge and stood in the heart of the thousand-acre Norman deer park. King John had also stayed at the castle many times in the early 13th century, hunting deer and wild boar with deerhounds. The park was known for its oak trees that provided timber in times of need and provided solace for animals residing in the park.

In the late 14th century, the castle passed through marriage to the Dukes of Norfolk and subsequently, in 1573, into the hands of the Carylls – a family of ironmasters who presided over the castle for two centuries. However, the castle was eventually destroyed by parliamentary troops so that it could not be used as a military asset in the English Civil War in the 17th century.

Knepp castle came into the Burrell family through marriage when William Burrell wed his second cousin Sophia whose father, Sir Charles Raymond (a baron), bought the property in 1787. Since then, it has been in the Burrell family, who have graciously taken up the task of modernizing the 1600 acres. The castle suffered a great tragedy when it burned down in 1904, almost destroying the mansion completely. The castle was also the headquarters of the first Canadian Division during World War II and narrowly escaped being burned down again.


The Norman Castle was designed by the architect John Nash, commissioned by Sir Charles Burrell (3rd Baronet). The mansion was built to perfection, and the surrounding gardens only enhanced its beauty. It overlooked the Knepp lake, considered as one of the largest bodies of water in West Sussex, and the ruins of the old castle in the distance, making it the perfect picnic spot.

Due to the fire, several notable works of art, including paintings by Holbein, Van Dyke, and a beautiful library, were destroyed. It called for a complete renovation of the castle with an addition of the Bachelor Wing on the third floor. Since Charles Burrell inherited the castle in 1987, renovations have included installing centralized heating, rebuilding turrets, and many more. Though Knepp Castle has been rebuilt, it is not open to the public. However, the visitors can take a walk along footpaths that cross through the grounds of the Knepp Estate. The castle estate today accounts for 3,500 acres of land.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Knepp Castle Estate make money?

Knepp Castle Estate has a large portfolio of properties for rent, including a variety of cottages, houses, offices, light industrial units, and stables, which generate revenue. In addition, it produces organic, pasture-fed meat from the free-roaming herds of animals within the grounds. The farm alone accounts for £50,000 annual profits from the ten-acre field of farming. They have also started running nature-based tours around the estate.

Can you stay at Knepp Castle Estate?

Yes, you can now experience the call of nature by staying at the Safari Campsite, including Shepherd’s huts, Bell Tents, Yurts, and Treehouses. The prices range from £250 to £450 per person for two nights and three days across different types of huts.

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 castrumtocastle@gmail.com. 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!

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He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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