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SUTTON VALENCE CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  SUTTON CASTLE
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Sutton Valence Castle, a mid to late 12th century square keep castle, possibly built by William le Gros, Count of Aumale, or his successor Baldwin de Bethune. The castle is situated on an artificially raised and levelled terrace, on a spur of the Chart Hills to the eastern edge of the village of Sutton Valence. It may have been built to control the road running from Maidstone to the Channel ports of Rye and Old Winchelsea. In the 13th century it belonged to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who led the English barons in a revolt against King Henry III. In 1265 it was given to William de Valance by Henry III (his half brother) as a reward for his part in defeating the rebellion. The castle was abandoned in circa 1300 and fell into decay. The ruins were conserved in the 1980s.

The keep is about 12 metres across and constructed of Kentish ragstone and flint. It is now ruinous with only one wall surviving to any significant height (now circa 7 metres, it may have one stood up to circa 20 metres high). Excavation in 1956 and 1957 produced pottery ranging from the 2nd half of the 12th century through to the late 13th century. It has been suggested on the basis of the excavation that a fore-building was added to the keep shortly after it was built, in order to protect the first floor main entrance to the keep, but this addition was levelled circa 1200 and replaced with a stairway. It is thought that there was once a curtain wall surrounding the bailey, but no trace of this now exists. The south-eastern angle of the keep features the remains of a garderobe or latrine. Access to the upper levels of the keep was through a stair turret located on the north-eastern corner. The castle is now in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.