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    Westham
(Enclosure for the Castle)
Domesday Community

Name Derivation

General Details

Westham is a small village built on the west side of Pevensey castle walls, and its history is tied in with the Castle.

The main village was formed on the small hill, and was the chief source of food and fuel for the fortress.

Pevensey Castle was built by the Romans between 250 and 300AD to defend the coast against the Franks and Alemanni who were attacking the Roman Empire in northern Europe. It was built on a small Island ( see Pevensey ), and was known as Anderida.

The fyrd of Alfred the Great were based in this defensive position in the 900's to defend from the marauding Vikings.

When the Roman Legions withdrew from Britain in 408AD, the castle was occupied by the Anglo-Saxons, until it was seized in 491AD by Aella the Saxon. ( see also Ashburnham ) In 1042 and 1049, the castle was raided by Earl Godwine, soon to become Harold II, and during the Spring and Summer of 1066 the castle was occupied by Harold's army, who were expecting William's forces.

Many scholars believe that the Normans landed at Pevensey in October 1066 , but from research we have carried out it seems less likely. However Pevensey was occupied by the Normans in late 1066 .

In the Domesday book it is mentioned as the manor of Renching, which appeared to be untouched by the Conquerors men during 1066 .

The Norman church is one of the first to be built in England, and its tower was added during the late 1200's.

The castle was besieged, probably from the Westham side, as a narrow spit of land joined the castle to the mainland, by William Rufus(1087 - 1100) and King Stephen(1135 - 1141).

Simon De Montfort(1264) on his way from Lewes failed to take the castle, and in 1399 it was again attacked this time by the Yorkists.

Queen Elizabeth I ordered the castle to be demolished, but this was ignored, and then in the Cromwellian period, the castle was sold to a builder for demolition. Luckily only a small amount of stones were removed, before the crown seized it in 1660 after the Restoration.

During the Second World War the castle had its towers reinforced, and camouflaged pill boxes constructed within the castle.


Services

Westham itself has a few local village services, mostly eating establishments.

Further services are available at Pevensey on the other side of the castle.

The main shopping centre is at Eastbourne about 3 miles south west.

Trains can be caught in the village with a regular service from Hastings to Eastbourne .


Views

From the castle looking south, you can see some of the Martello Towers built along the coastline in the early 1800's as defence from Napoleon.

To the west are the magnificent South Downs, and Eastbourne .

To the east are the deserted areas of the Pevensey Levels, where smugglers would bring in their cargoes, when the area was under water.

 
       
 
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