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Verdley Castle, Fernhurst

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;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

In the civil parish of Fernhurst.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of West Sussex.
1974 county of West Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Chichester).

OS Map Grid Reference: SU90352579
Latitude 51.02439° Longitude -0.71311°

Verdley Castle, Fernhurst has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

Description

Verdley Castle was possibly once a 13th century hunting tower and became ruined in the 16th century. Remains possibly of the keep existed in the 19th century partly surrounded by a moat. The foundations were dug out about 60 years ago (Ellis; Mackenzie; VCH).
Foundations measure 68' by 33', the walls are 6' thick without buttresses. The enclosing swampy ground suggests a former moat (Turner).
The site of the building, marked by humus-covered mounds of rubble and random blocks of sandstone, is at SU 90352579, upon a small sand plateau on the lower northern slope of Henley Hill. A small stream flows either side giving marshy ground below the site. Above on the SW side are steeper wooded slopes.
The ground is so contoured that the site could never have been moated (Field Investigators Comments–F1 ASP 02-JUN-70).
The site lies within a coniferous plantation and is mainly under mature trees. There are no obvious, visible remains of a building or building platform. Recent forestry activities, including the removal of young birch trees growing around the conifers, has disturbed the ground quite heavily in places, as has animal burrowing (possibly badgers). Scattered fragments of red brick and greenish-grey, West Country slate found in the disturbed top soil provide some evidence of a former building, although it should be noted that records suggest the medieval building was stone-built (English Heritage Alternative Action Report–MPPA: Ros Parker. Site Visit: 3/Jun/1996.). (PastScape)

The manor of VERDLEY presumably belonged to the Dawtreys, as in 1317 it was settled on Eve (Dawtrey) and Edward St. John, her (third) husband, and her heirs. At her death in 1354 it passed to John de Shelvestrode, her son by her first husband Roger de Shelvestrode. His son Sir Roger made a conveyance of the manor, evidently for a settlement, in 1360, and it passed by the marriage of Joan, daughter and heir of John de Shelvestrode, to John Aske, of Yorkshire, who died in 1397. In this family it descended for 150 years, Sir Robert Aske dying seised thereof in 1531. His son John conveyed his Sussex manors, including Verdley, to Henry VIII in 1542, and in 1549 it was given by Edward VI to Sir Anthony Browne. From this time it descended with Cowdray. The Park of Verdley is mentioned in connexion with the grants in 1542 and 1547 and is shown as impaled, on the maps of Saxton (1575) and Speed (1616). (VCH 1953)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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