Sussex Castles




The French Raid Sussex


29 June 1377 The French Raid Sussex

After King Edward III death in 1377, the French start raiding the south coast of England. They first sacked Rye, taking much Plunder. Abbot Haimo of Battle Abbey, on hearing that Rye had been sacked by the French, organized a militia and successfully defended Winchelsea, despite a ferocious attack by the French. The French disappointed by their lack of success at Winchelsea, sent a detachment to Hasting. Disappointed at finding little plunder in Hasting, they set fire to the town.

Later in the summer they tried raiding the Isle of Wight, but were fought off by Sir John Arundel. They also landed at Pevensey, but were met by the Earl of Salisbury and driven off. The French succeeded in landing at Rottingdean where some local people took sanctuary in the tower of St Margaret's church, however the French set fire to the tower, killing all those within. The French then continued their rampage north to Lewes. The town and surrounding villages were burnt down and the Prior of Lewes captured by the French.

Early in 1378, the men of Rye and Winchelsea banded together and raided the French towns of St Pierre-en-Porte and Veulettes. They were able to recover much of the plunder taken by the French the previous year, including the Rye church bells and lead which had been stripped from Rye church. Hostages were taken for ransom and St Pierre-en-Porte set ablaze. 

In 1380, the French again raided Winchelsea. An ineffective defense was led by the Earl of Arundel and the French were able to plunder the town.

In 1382, the men of Rye were able to recover the ship named the “Falcon” which the French had previously captured, together with six other ships with a cargo of wine and other valuable commodities. 

Sussex Timeline