Halnaker House: a fortified medieval manor house and part of its landscaped grounds


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Halnaker House: a fortified medieval manor house and part of its landscaped grounds
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Sussex
Chichester (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SU 90787 08878, SU 90893 08984

Reasons for Designation

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers, gunports and crenellated parapets. Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables, brew houses, granaries and barns were located. Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

The fortified medieval house of Halnaker survives well and retains much original fabric representing the various phases in its development. The buildings, earthworks and buried remains will contribute towards our understanding of the development of high status medieval residences and will contain artefacts and environmental evidence relating to the function of the buildings and the activities of their inhabitants.


The monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes a fortified medieval manor house and part of its garden and landscaped grounds, situated at the end of a chalk spur which projects to the south from the main ridge of the Sussex Downs, some 5km north east of Chichester.

The main buildings, which survive mainly as ruins incorporated into a modern garden, range around a roughly north-south aligned, quadrangular walled courtyard, constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries, with later alterations and additions. Traces of an earlier, 12th century, house built by Robert de Haye, are likely to survive as below-ground archaeological features. The buildings are constructed of flint rubble and clunch with sandstone ashlar dressings, with some later brickwork added during subsequent alterations and repairs. The courtyard was entered through the southern range by means of a grand gatehouse, built in the 14th century, which was originally defended by a portcullis. The gatehouse was decorated with high quality dressed flintwork, of which two storeys survive. Also surviving within the southern range are the remains of the tower at the south western end and traces of 16th century additions.

Across the courtyard in the northern range, were the principal domestic apartments. The centrally placed entrance porch, which is of 14th century date, provided access to the main hall above it, which was elaborately decorated in the 16th century by Lord de La Warr, with intricately carved panels and other enrichments. After further modifications in the 18th century by the Duke of Richmond, the house was allowed to fall into decay during the early 1800s. The eastern range is occupied by the remains of further domestic apartments and a 13th century chapel, dedicated to St Mary Magdelene, which remained in use until 1704, with a courtyard on its southern side. There are no visible remains of the western range, but evidence for buildings will survive in the form of buried features. The standing ruins are Listed Grade I.

Water was supplied to the house via a well situated immediately north of the courtyard, and during the post-medieval period, by a sunken, octagonal reservoir, situated on higher ground about 130m to the north east. This feature, which descends in three terraces to a central depression at a depth of about 3m, is known as `The Cockpit'and may have been subsequently used for cock-fighting. Cartographic evidence suggests that the reservoir, a rectangular garden earthwork and brick revetted terracing to the west of the main courtyard, date to the 18th century.

Historical sources indicate that the medieval park in which the house was situated originated in a grant of 1283. By 1570, the park was estimated to be four miles in compass and capable of sustaining 800 deer.

Further buried archaeological evidence and environmental remains associated with the house and gardens can be expected to survive in and around the main courtyard, and may extend beyond the boundaries of the scheduling.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the modern fences, hardstanding, garden furniture, lighting and associated cables and the later post-medieval red brick wall along the north western edge of the monument, although the ground beneath these features is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Andre, J L, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Halnaker House, , Vol. 43, (1900), 201-213
Godfrey, W H, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in The La Warr Family and Halnaker House, , Vol. 82, (1941), 59-64


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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