Henry VIII’s Camber Castle lies within the nature reserve between Rye and Winchelsea. It was originally located overlooking the shallow sea on a shingle spit which protected the approach to these towns.
Camber means a safe haven (the English fleet could safely anchor behind the castle) derived from the French ‘chambre’, meaning bedroom.
The nature reserve manages public access to Camber Castle. There are castle open days and wildlife guided walks from Rye that include a visit inside the castle. See our events page to find out more.
Camber Castle timeline
1486 - Sir Richard Guldeford is granted the lordship of Iham (now Winchelsea), in return for building and maintaining a tower on this site (the tower was not yet built).
1512 - Sir Edward Guldeford built the central tower, at the end of a shingle spit and only a few metres from the sea.
1538 - A treaty between France and Spain made England vulnerable to attack. Henry VIII began building a series of artillery forts along the coast (including castles at Deal and Walmer)
1539 - Work began on Camber Castle. The tower was extended upwards, and the outer bastions constructed.
1544 - Completed.
1626 - By this time, the sea had receded so far that the harbour was out of range of cannons, and the castle was useless. King Charles gave permission for the castle to be demolished, but for some reason it was left.
1637 - Abandoned.
Now managed by English Heritage, it was taken into guardianship in
1967, and initial consolidation work was carried out between 1969 and
1975. This involved structural work, particularly to the keep, hard
capping the wall tops, extensive repairs to the brickwork and excavation
of the infilled bastions. A further programme of consolidation,
particularly to the courtyard surfaces and re-pointing of brickwork in
lime mortars, was completed in 1995. This work has enabled a limited
public opening of the castle, but you can visit the outside of the
castle on any day - see our map for location and footpaths. For satnav, the postcode for the start of the walk to the castle is TN31 7TD.
School visits can be arranged by contacting our Communities & Wildlife team – email [email protected]