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Sutton Valence Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Sutton Castle

In the civil parish of Sutton Valence.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ81544912
Latitude 51.21238° Longitude 0.59775°

Sutton Valence Castle has been described as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Although the area within the keep was partially disturbed by excavation during the 17th or 18th century, the tower keep castle at Sutton Valence survives comparatively well as a ruined structure and in the form of associated earthworks. More recent part excavation, in the 1950s, has indicated that the monument will contain contemporary archaeological remains and environmental evidence, providing further information about the occupation of the castle. The monument includes a tower keep castle which survives as a ruin, Listed at Grade II, within an area of associated earthworks and buried remains, situated on the southernmost spur of the Chart Hills, on the eastern edge of the village of Sutton Valence. The castle enjoys panoramic views of the Weald of Kent and East Sussex to the south. Partial excavation has shown that the castle was built during the latter half of the 12th century, in order to control the road which led from Maidstone c.9km to the north to the channel ports of Rye and Old Winchelsea. The monument's most prominent feature is a square stone keep, now ruined, built on the southern edge of the spur, towards the centre of an artificially raised and levelled, roughly west-east aligned oblong earthen terrace c.100m by c.34m. The keep is constructed of roughly-coursed ragstone and flint rubble. Each face measures c.11m in length externally, and the walls survive to a height of up to 7m and are c.2.4m thick, with additional support provided at the corners by clasping buttresses. The keep, which originally stood to a height of c.20m, had timber floors, now represented by joist-slots visible in the masonry at first floor level. Built within the thickness of the southern wall on the first floor is a barrel-vaulted passage, and traces of a garderobe, or latrine, survive in the south eastern angle. A stair turret located in the north eastern corner provided access to the upper floors. Partial excavation during the 1950s showed that the entrance to the keep, situated on the northern side at first floor level, was at first protected by a small, rectangular masonry forebuilding, the foundations of which have been exposed. This was demolished around AD 1200 and replaced by a staircase which was later encased by protective walls. A short length of these survive at the north eastern angle to a height of up to 4.3m. The castle and surrounding land, then known as Town Sutton, was granted to William de Valence in 1265 by his half-brother Henry III as a reward for helping the king defeat Simon de Montfort's rebellion. The partial excavation of the monument indicated that the castle was abandoned by around AD 1300, after which time it fell into decay. The castle ruins were restored during the 1980s and the monument is now largely in the care of the Secretary of State and open to the public. (Scheduling Report)

The Norman count of Aumale, Baldwin de Bethune, probably built the castle in the middle of the 12th century. It was used as a residence for over 150 years by a succession of important lords and earls. Having passed down through various marriages, in 1238 the castle was owned by Simon de Montfort, sixth Earl of Leicester. As leader of the baronial rebellion against Henry III, he was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and his estates were confiscated by the Crown. Henry III then conferred the castle on his half-brother, William de Valence, as a reward for his support during the rebellion. The village of Sutton, or 'south town', became known as Sutton Valence. William's son, Aymer de Valence, inherited the castle in 1307 and stayed here in June 1315. Remarkably, three of the Valence household accounts have survived. These show that the family spent their time constantly travelling between their many estates. In the period between May 1296 and September 1297, Joan de Valence (William's widow) spent time at eight different residences, including a month here at Sutton Valence. (English Heritage)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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