Pevensey Castle with Hastings Battleaxe

It’s Battleaxe Granny week this week – we went to Pevensey Castle – had never been before.  It was much better than I expected.


    You can see the ruins of Pevensey Castle from the Brighton train…. it has always looked interesting, but not sufficiently interesting to actually go there. However, outings must be arranged for GD, and I get free admission to English Heritage sites with my …. Barclays Premier Account….  No – am not some secretly rich financial whizzeroo – I only got the account, free, by letting rip a colossal Battleaxe bellowing fit in Barclays, Hastings, over some on-line telephone app gadget insurance thing that I couldn’t access ‘because our older customers don’t tend to use mobile banking’. It pays to be a Battleaxe sometimes. Poor Philosopher, who has been a Barclays customer since bankers wrote with quill pens, doesn’t have these benefits, and has to go as my guest…..
    Anyway, back to Pevensey.  Another scorching hot day as usual. Parking is easy, right next door to the Castle.
    Just shows how ignorant one is. I had not realised that the Norman/medieval castle is built inside an enormous Roman fortification. Little is known about what went on in the fort, called Anderida – the lie of the land was totally different then.  Now, there’s a thing. There is a WI group in Pevensey called Anderida – I always wondered why, now I know….  Here is an aerial view of the site from the internet, showing the size of the outer, Roman wall. Works were being done to repair the wall, but it is still in excellent condition.

    Of course, Pevensey is where William the Conquerer landed – his first base was at Pevensey, before marching off to Hastings.
    The Castle itself is very romantic. Not much in the way of facilities – a little hut shop with a very nice man who let Battleaxe taste some strawberry and ginger wine.
    There is a dungeon with steep stairs down. I didn’t realise that the floor was flooded – you couldn’t see the still water against the stone – and I got wet feet. Quite refreshing on a hot day. They should fill it up more and charge people to go for a cooling paddle.  Worse – or better- than the dungeon, there is an oubliette – another dungeon with no stairs and just a grille in the roof – where they just threw people down and forgot about them.  I did say to Philosopher that the desperate shrieks might have jogged the memories of those above… but who knows.

Dungeon roof
The oubliette….

    A number of rooms in the towers were restored in WW2 to accommodate soldiers, and they had inserted gun emplacements into the outer walls – quite tastefully constructed.  Going back hundreds of years, there was a heap of massive round stones used for firing from trebuchets. Apparently, they could fling one of those things several hundred yards at invaders – must have had strong elastic on those catapults.

Trebuchet stones and gun emplacement slit up in the walls.

    Quite strange, there was a little gate through the walls at the side saying it once led to the harbour… of course, the sea is about a mile away now.  I had wondered why there was only a moat round part of the Castle – the rest was bordered by sea.
    You could spend a good length of time exploring the castle – there was, apparently, a very good audio guide to borrow. However, for us, accompanied by a teenager with the lowest possible boredom threshold, it was our usual gallop. A little bit slowed, thank goodness, by the ferocious heat.

   So, what else has Pevensey got to offer? Unfortunately, the Court-house and gaol was shut.   It has free admission but only open Wednesday onwards – trust us to go on a Tuesday!
   The Castle Cottage Tea Room is right by the Castle walls – looked very good, but sadly, also shut. It opens Thursday to Sunday.

    There are two pubs. One, the Royal Oak and Castle, looked nice, with a big garden, again, right by the Castle, but looked heavingly full. So, we walked down the road to the other pub, the Smugglers’ Inn.  Again, it had a garden but we sat inside to be cooler. Food was excellent – huge portions, and it was quite comfortable. Battleaxe would recommend.

   Battleaxe would also recommend Pevensey Castle, but I think you would need to be quite keen on history to get value for money if you had to pay the admission fee. I guess if you could combine the Castle with a free visit to the court house and tea at the Castle Cottage it would be much better….
    As I said above, it didn’t actually all take us that long, and GD and I went for a walk on Hastings Pier.  I had an ice-cream (v good) in the new ice-cream parlour, which promptly melted and went all over my dress, and we examined Mr Gulzar’s new menagerie of life-size plastic animals. The hippo is so bad it is almost good…


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