Camber CastleHastings
English Heritage
East Sussex TN31 7TD 
 
 
 
 
Marooned in the middle of flat pastureland near the ancient Cinque Ports town of Rye in south-east England is a strange shaped castle. From the air the castle looks like a tortoise – a round body with four circular towers like little feet and a circular entrance tower for its head!
 
What on earth is this structure doing miles from habitation, surrounded by peacefully grazing sheep and drainage ditches?
 
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Camber Castle was built between 1512 and 1514 as a single circular tower by Sir Edward Guldeford to defend the extensive Rye Anchorage. It is hard to imagine that at that time this castle stood on the edge of the coast.
 
Following King Henry VIII’s divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon England was left politically isolated. When France and Spain signed a treaty, threat of invasion by the new alliance was a real possibility. Henry set about strengthening his southern coastal defences.
 
Henry VIII's Henrican Castles
Camber Castle is what is known as a ‘Henrican Castle’ or ‘Device Fort’. These castles were primarily artillery forts and designed specifically to provide a 360 degree arc of defence. A curvilinear form of fortification was developed which consisted of squat artillery towers surrounded by round bastions to provide platforms for artillery.
 
Henry took a personal interest in the military engineering techniques of the time, and approved and amended the designs himself. It is remarkable to think that his designs were so effective that defensive forts have needed little change even up to the 20th century.
 
The development of Camber’s single defensive tower into a highly symmetrical artillery fort took place between 1539 and 1544. The original tower was augmented with four outer towers linked by an octagonal wall concealing a covered passage. Finally, four large D-shaped bastions serving as gun platforms were placed in front of the earlier towers. As the shoreline receded south the height of the central tower was raised in order to maintain the range of the castle's canon.
 
By the end of the 16th century the silting of the bay made the castle largely obsolete and in 1637 it was disbanded.
 
This ancient Device Fort is now in the care of English Heritage and managed by Rye Harbour Nature Reserve (RHNR)  Web:  Rye Reserve    External Link
 
There is no vehicular access. The castle is equidistant between Rye and Winchelsea and access is by walking 1¼ miles (2 km) across the fields. The footpath can be muddy in wet weather.
 
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Open
Visitors are free to wander around the outside of Camber Castle at any time. Entry to the inside of the Castle is by guided tour only. Details are at Web: Guided Tours of Camber Castle    External Link
 
Facilities
None
 
Contact & Further Information
Website  Camber Castle EH     External Link
 
Getting There
To find the footpath follow the A259 Rye Harbour road, for 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Rye (SatNav TN31 7TD) almost equidistant between Rye and Winchelsea. A waymarker post identifies the path across the fields to Camber Castle, about a 1.3 miles (2 km)  walk. The path can be muddy in wet weather.
 
There is no vehicular access to the fort.
 
Google Maps - Camber Castle