Cowdray house was built in the early 16th century by Sir David Owen, and has since gone through several changes of ownership. When complete, it was said to be one of the finest houses in Sussex, and its interiors were lavishly decorated, but the house was largely destroyed by fire in 1793.

Cowdray House and others like it, mark part of a transition in architecture from castle to country house, it is built around a central courtyard, with a great hall, chapel, and fortified gatehouse and other buildings, but incorporates many of the luxuries of the time.

Today the ruins are a tourist attraction, but there is no gift shop selling generic touristy tat, no mannequins or any of the other usual trappings of the tourist industry. Cowdray is presented very much 'as is' by the owners. The general public are not normally allowed to enter the buildings, but can walk around the outside.

Of particular note are the porch which has a very ornate carved ceiling, and the spectacular oriel windows in the hall.

My own tour of the ruins can be found at:

Nigel Saddler has been studying and recording Cowdray since 1978, his excellent website may be found here: