Camber Castle
Camber Castle
Camber Castle is one of a series of forts built by Henry VIII along the south coast to counter the threat of a French invasion during the 1530s. The sea originally lapped at the foot of the castle, but silting over the centuries means that Camber now stands alone in a low-lying field over a mile from the shore.

The castle is fairly typical of Henry's fortresses; a geometric design with rounded bastions around a central tower. The tower was built first, around 1512 as part of a plan to defend Rye harbour. The rounded design of the circular tower was intended to deflect cannon balls. Around 1530 the outer curtain wall was built around the tower. Gun platforms were built at alternate corners. A passage was built inside the curtain wall, linking the gun platforms.

There was originally only a single bastion near the entrance, but around 1542 the castle was altered to a geometric design similiar to Deal and Walmer. The gun platforms were then replaced with four larger bastions fitted out with their own gun ports. Thje new bastions meant the original ports in the central tower were not needed, so the tower was doubled in height.
Castle gun port
Castle gun port
The effects of the retreating sea meant that Camber was rendered essentially useless within a century. Charles I ordered destroyed, but the demolition never took place.
If you look at aerial photographs of Camber Castle it is hard not to be struck how much it resembles at Tudor rose. It may be an accident, or a case of Henry VIII's sizeable ego at work, or simply a happy coincidence that the five-petalled curtain wall surrounding a circular central keep so closely resembles the Tudor emblen and also creates a good defensive structure at the same time.
Visiting Camber Castle
You really do have to want to get to Camber Castle. Think of it as a walk through a lovely nature reserve, with a castle in the middle. English Heritage sponsor monthly guided tours of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve with special castle admission during the tour, but otherwise you'll have to be content with viewing the exterior of the castle. To be fair, you can actually get a pretty good view of the interior through the iron grill that bars the entrance. The trail that goes past the castle leaves the A259 about a mile south of Rye, off Harbour Road. Park on Harbour Road or simply walk down from the town centre. Its about a 1 mile walk each way, but the going is very flat, so it should take no more than 20 minutes each way.

You can easily make the excursion into a longer circular walk - that's what we did; we parked our car at the public car park in Rye Harbour and followed the trail along Nook Beach. You can see the castle in the distance as the ground is so flat, so there's not much hope of getting lost. The trail joins the Royal Military Canal Path and goes straight past the castle gates. An OS map is very useful, though. The one we use is the Explorer 125.

More Photos

About Camber Castle
Address: Rye, East Sussex, England, TN31 7TD
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: Off the A259 1 mile south of Rye, 1 mile walk across fields
Website: Camber Castle
Phone: 01797 227 784
English Heritage - see also: English Heritage memberships (official website)
Location map
OS: TQ969186
Photo Credit: David Ross


HeritageWe've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.

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castle (Architecture) - Charles I (Person) - Geometric (Architecture) - Henry VIII (Person) - Tudor (Time Period) -


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