Amberley, A castle with history and fine dining
Sitting in the south downs of the Sussex country side sits the small picturesque village of Amberley, the land was owned by The Saxon King Caedwalla and in 672 he gave the lands to St Wilfred he was the first Bishop of Selsea. It was later passed on to the See of Chichester a cathedral city nearby and in the 12th century Bishop Luffa built a Manor house which was to be the beginning of Amberley Castle.
In 1377, King Richard II granted Bishop William Rede a “license to crenellate, he raised the great curtain wall and gate-towers as protection against the pirates of the day. The wall comprised of a parapet with arrow firing slits and a walkway behind. He then built the Great hall more building was done and by 1383 the castle was almost finished.
Queen Elizabeth I held the lease at one time
The castle is built as a quadrilateral with the curtain wall being surrounded by a dry moat; a drawbridge was never built, although it does have a working portcullis. It was occupied by the bishops of Chichester the last one being Bishop Sherbburn after he died the castle was leased out.
There were many leaseholders including Queen Elizabeth I she held the lease between 1588 and 1603. In September 1648 James Butler of London, a merchant, purchased Amberley Castle. During the Civil War, Amberley Castle along with Arundel Castle was attacked by the forces of Oliver Cromwell, the then tenant had unpaid taxes and in ensuing battle the castle was badly damaged, evidence of the destruction the Cromwellian forces wrought exists to this day.
Today Amberley Castle it is a hotel, along with its beautiful landscaped gardens and lakes 19 luxurious hotel bedrooms and suites, and its two restaurants one situated in the great hall, it’s got to be classed as a Castle worth a visit, I have been lucky enough to have dined in the great hall.
One of the best places to eat
There are as many as 50 castles in England they have been converted into hotels or holiday complexes today and many more in Scotland Ireland and Wales. If it takes this to keep these lovely monuments of history then I am all in favour of it. I often wondered what the Lords and Kings of yesterday would have made of how the fortresses and castles they so proudly defended against the hordes and invaders of their day are being used today. And so as I sit and sip my earl grey tea and take a bite out of my cream bun, sittings in the gardens of this magnificence Castle I close my eyes and allow myself to be transported back to the days of old.