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A Day Trip Guide to Bramber and Upper Beeding – From History to Nature

Bramber village with the old bramber castle tower in the background

The South Downs is renowned for its quaint villages and open countryside and Bramber and Upper Beeding combine the two with a bit of history and medieval architecture thrown in. These villages, steeped in centuries of heritage, provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable day trip.

From ancient ruins to scenic riverside walks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this idyllic corner of the country.

Exploring Bramber: A Journey Through Time

a map of bramber
Map found in St Nicholas Church

Bramber village sits on the west bank of the River Adur, a stone’s throw from Steyning and 4 miles from our home town of Shoreham-By-Sea, so we visit it often. Although a very small village, it has a wonderful community feel (although is little more than a street) and we always head to the highlight, the old Bramber Castle.

Bramber Castle

Bramber castle tower
the tower of bramber castle

Dating back to the 11th century, Bramber Castle was once a formidable fortress, guarding the strategic route between the South Downs and the coast. William de Braose built the castle and the nearby church in Norman times and the castle ruins, what remains of it, can still be seen today.

a street in bramber
The Tower is visible from the streets

The most imposing part is the remains of the old tower, which stand over 14 metres tall and are visible from the village. The Castle is free to visit and you can park in the car park for £2, however, we always park on the street and take the path up the hill to the remains.

old ruins at Bramber Castle

Although there is not much left of the castle itself, it is still a fabulous place to visit. There is a huge expanse of grass with a small copse in the middle with plenty of trees. Our kids love exploring all the different woodland areas, and you may find some swings hanging from the ancient trees.

a field with trees in the middle
The perfect place to have a picnic and enjoy some outdoor games

Another great place to explore is what would have been the defensive ditch around the castle. The castle is set high on a hill, so plenty of steep banks lead down to a nature trail at the bottom.

a path through a wood
The nature trail that winds its way around the castle

It can take around 40 minutes to walk and is steep in parts, but the kids enjoy exploring the woods and climbing the banks.

views of the south downs
Views of the South Downs

Bramber Castle is the perfect place to have a picnic, explore some old ruins and take in beautiful views of the South Downs.

St Nicholas Church

st nicholas church in bramber

This little chapel was built in the 11th century, the same time as the castle, and has a Saxon tower and beautiful stained glass windows.

inside st nicholas church in bramber
st nicholas church

The church is still in use today and provides views of the village below.

Bramber Village

the castle inn hotel in The Street, Bramber

After exploring the castle, take a stroll through Bramber’s charming village centre, where timber-framed houses and quaint cottages line the streets.

There isn’t much to do in the village itself; The Castle Inn Hotel serves food Monday to Sunday and you can stay in the Tollgate Bed & Breakfast which also does a popular Sunday carvery.

It is still worth taking a wander along The Street in Bramber as it is filled with typically beautiful English gardens, Tudor buildings and the neighbouring South Downs countryside.

St Mary’s House and Gardens

St Mary's House and Gardens in Bramber

At the far end of Bramber is St Mary’s House and Gardens, a heritage attraction. This is a historic mid-15th-century Pilgrim Inn, with origins back to the days of the Knights Templar.

It is still a family home to this day, but you can visit the house itself and enjoy the restoration work taken on by the current owner, author, composer and historian Peter Thorogood.

St Mary’s has 5 acres of gardens which include animal topiary, a prehistoric Ginkgo Biloba ‘living fossil’ tree, and a secret garden. St Mary’s House & Gardens are open to the public May – September, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 2 – 6 pm.

Upper Beeding

Beeding bridge over the river adur
Beeding Bridge

The River Adur separates the villages of Bramber and Upper Beeding. Continue to the end of The Street in Bramber until you get to a little bridge over the river and you will find yourself in Upper Beeding.

an old tudor house

Again, it is a small village and lies on the ancient pilgrim route from Winchester to Canterbury. The Beeding Bridge has historical significance; it is where King Charles II made his escape in 1651 and headed to Shoreham where he boarded The Surprise.

beeding bridge over the river adur

The beauty of Upper Beeding is that it is surrounded by the South Downs, with access to walks along the River Adur and is hugely popular with walkers. The best way to see the village is by following the Upper Beeding Heritage Trail which will take you past the Rising Sun Pub, the old Tudor houses of Hyde Street and back down along the River Adur.

The perfect places to stop off for a coffee, or have some lunch are the King’s Head Inn and The Hub, a community-run cafe.

For a leisurely riverside walk, head to the Adur River and follow the Downs Link River walk. Here you can meander along the riverbanks, spotting wildlife such as robins, rabbits and swans and enjoy the serenity of nature.

a bridge over a river with a path

It is easy to spend a day around Bramber and Upper Beeding. We often spend a few hours at Bramber Castle and then head into the village for something to eat. It is an idyllic corner of West Sussex, which is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern-day life.

a day out in bramber and upper beeding pinterest pin

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