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Sutton Valence Castle (Kent, South England)

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Sutton Valence Castle was built in the late 12th Century by Baldwin of Bethune (or possibly his father in law William le Gros) in a strategically important and commanding location overlooking the route between the towns of Maidstone, Rye and Old Winchelsea.

After Baldwin died the castle passed through his daughter Alice to her husband William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. Marshall then remarried, passing the property to his second wife, Eleanor. After his death Eleanor married Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester. De Montford led a rebellion against King Henry III during the Second Barons' War but was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, after which Eleanor was stripped of the castle.

The King then granted the castle and its lands to his half-brother William de Valence, whose son Aymer de Valence inherited the castle in 1307. On his death in 1324 the castle passed through marriage to Lawrence, Lord Hastings, and was held by his family until 1390. when Reginald Lord Grey de Ruthin acquired it.

Sutton Valence Castle Site Plan
Source: English Heritage

The castle seems to have been abandoned by the early 14th century and was described as ruined by the 15th century.

The castle comprised of an inner and an outer bailey and a protective barbican. The inner bailey was protected by a dry ditch and likely contained a hall, chapel, and kitchen. Today only the keep remains and is maintained by English Heritage. The wall of the outer bailey included a round tower that is not part of the accessible area.

The castle was used primarily as a residence and there does not seem to have been any battles or conflicts relating to it.

The site is free to access during daylight hours.

Site visited February 2019.

Photos © Completely Castles 2019

English Heritage


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