Medieval moated castle.
Quadrangular castle with round towers, of which only the southern one survives. Included a gatehouse with a guard-room above. The site was spread over three islands set within a moat. At its height the manor included 4,000 acres.
The main island held the castle and was connected to the next, smaller island, to the south-west by a defensible bridge. This island is believed to have housed the stables and other buildings associated with serving the castle. On the third, and smallest of the islands, there is no evidence of structures.
The site stayed in the Darrell family for just over 350 years.
Has been associated with smuggling.
Father Richard Blount, a Catholic who served his flock within the neighbourhood, hid in the castle in a Priests Hole. It was more than a hole, including a number of small areas. He was there for 7 years with his servant Bray. The servant surrendered to the Protestant forces who were looking for a priest, and this acted as a decoy, for they believed their work was done, unaware that the real priest was still there.
In 1837 alterations were being carried out and stone removed from part of the castle when the following note was discovered,
Beneath the floor of a hiding-place, which was entered by a trap door, in the oak floor of the upper gallery, the situation of which is shewn in the accompanying plate, were found a printed proclamation “by the Lord Protector” (Oliver Cromwell), “Declaring his Highness pleasure and command for putting in execution the Laws Statutes and Ordinance made against Jesuits and Priests, and for the speedy conviction of Popish Recusants,” and some other papers of little interest. (Hussey, 1887).
1137-1195 Held by Lambert de Scoteni.
1246 Thomas Scoteni died, and was succeeded by his son Peter.
1289 Walter de Scoteni was hung after being accused of poisoning Richard, Earl of Gloucester and his brother, William de Clare.
13th C Held by the Crown.
c.1378-1380 Built by Roger de Ashburnham as a fortified manor house after being granted a Licence to Crenellate.
1392 Roger Ashburnham died, and he was succeeded by his son Roger.
1418 Roger Ashburnham died, and the manor was purchased by Robert Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury. He stayed there a few times and then granted the manor to his niece, who married John Darrell. The Archbishop of Canterbury signed one of his Mandates at the castle.
1558 In ruins.
1580 The southern wing was rebuilt.
c.1591-1598 Father Richard Blount, the first Jesuit Provincial of England, hid at the castle whilst looking after local Catholics.
1598 Father Blount and his servant Bray hid in a hole made into one of the walls for 10 days.
16th C Remodeled.
1630 The eastern wing was rebuilt.
17th C Remodeled.
1720 Arthur Darrell, the last in the male line, died and it passed to George, the second son of John Darrell of Colehill.
1728 Mr. Darrell had demolished part of the castle.
1750’s Areas of the manor were sold off to pay debts.
1774/5 John Darrell sold the manor to Mr. Richards.
1778 Bought by Edward Hussey who built a new house also called Scotney Castle, in the grounds above the Old Castle.
1783-1792 Between: Edward Hussey bought back all the land which had previously been sold off to pay debts.
1807 Edward Hussey inherited the manor.
1817 Edward Hussey died, and he was succeeded by his son Edward.
1830’s New Scotney Castle was built on land above the Old Castle.
1835 Inherited by Edward Hussey.
1837 The moat was drained. Finds included a section of chain mail, and wine bottles, one of which had the coat of arms of the Duke of Beaufort on it. A note from Oliver Cromwell, as described above, was found in the castle.
1843 Part of the eastern wing was dismantled.
1844 Edward Hussey was High Sheriff of Sussex.
1848 Edward Hussey was a member of the Sussex Archaeological Society.
1887 The secret priest’s hole was discovered.
1889 Edward Hussey was President of the Sussex Archaeological Society.
1905 Until: Included Bailiff’s accommodation.
1933 First scheduled.
1970 Left to the National Trust following the death of Christopher Hussey.
1970’s-1980’s Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, rented an apartment in the New Castle.
1987 Surveyed and excavated.
1989 Listed Building schedule.
1994 Scheduling revised.
2017 A hoard of coins was uncovered in the castle, which included Roman coins.
References & Bibliography.
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