The Ruins of Knepp Castle

at West Grinstead, West Sussex

Lying close to the main A24 London to Worthing road, just south of West Grinstead in West Sussex, the ruin of the original Knepp Castle looks for all the world like a folly - isolated, prominent, difficult to miss. Yet once it was part of a much larger castle, and so it qualifies as a curiosity rather than folly.

The original Knepp Castle (original because there is another, built later) was completed during the 12th Century. If you look closely you can see that the ruin sits at one corner of a circular mound, and supposedly the castle once occupied much of that raised ground. The mound itself predates the castle and may have been the site of an earlier, Saxon building.

During its days as a family home and local stronghold it was protected by a moat (fed from the River Adur) and there are traces of what is thought to have been a drawbridge to the west of the ruin - the side farthest from the roadway.

Knepp Castle was built by the deiBraose family, and was popular with several kings as a place to visit and from which to hunt. The Castle and its estates were confiscated by King John in 1210 and given to one of his sons (the justification supposedly being a suspicion that deiBraose was plotting against the King). It was restored to the deiBraose family after John's death.

In the 14th Century the Castle fell into disrepair, and much of its stonework was used in other local buildings.

Another Knepp Castle was built at the beginning of the 19th Century - a short distance to the north-west but not visible from the road. This was later damaged by fire, and rebuilt early in the 20th Century. It is a private residence, not open to the public.
Silhouetted on the skyline, the ruins sit on a low mound which gives an impression of the size of Knepp Castle in its heyday.