Iden Mote

Iden Mote

 Photo  © Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence
The photo shows all that remains of a castellated house built in 1284 by Edmund de Paseley. At one point it was owned by Alexander Iden who as Sherrif of Kent arrested Jake Cade during his rebellion against the policies of Henry VI in 1450. Now this is a small nature reserve whose frog chorus in June can be quite loud.

The following article was contributed by J H Cheney.

History of Iden Mote

The mote is situated in the parish of Iden about 3 miles from Rye, in a small shallow valley down which runs a small stream on its way to join the River Rother. In this valley Edmund de Passeley caused a basin to be excavated 460 feet square. On the north side the containing bank must have been entirely artificial, formed no doubt with the material dug from the centre basin.

In the centre of the excavation a rectangular island was left, levelled and raised artificially and to be occupied by the future castle. A sluice was probably provided at the northwest comer of the lake to regulate the level of the water. On the southwest comer throwing embankments across the stream formed two ponds. These ponds were intended as store ponds when the level of the water in the lake became low from any cause, as well as for the keeping of fish. Below the northern side of the retaining bank can still be traced a length of straight bank, which was probably the edge of a wharf abutting onto an artificially formed harbour.

Up to the 1930′s the stream leading to the wharf was quite navigable for small boats. On the west side of the castle side an outer court was formed by enclosing with two subsidiary moats a piece of land measuring 500 ft. by 150 ft. Owing to the eastern side of these moats having to be dug out of the rising side of the valley, the amount of excavation required was very great and the remains are impressive to this day. The similarity in the layout to the site of Bodiam Castle is clear. The same low lying situation, the same forming of an artificial lake instead of a moat and the same artificial island in the centre. A feature of Bodiam Castle, which is supposed to be unique, is the bridge of timber built to approach the castle gateway sideways from the west bank. The illustration on the license granted to Sir Edmund Passeley to embattle his mansion of La Mote by Edward II in 1318 shows that the idea was intended to be put into practice there, 70 years earlier.

The purpose of the building of the first moat castle was to protect the rear approach to Rye from French invaders. In 1460 the Manor of Mote passed by marriage to the Scott family from Smeeth in Kent, 1464. In 1481 the lake was reduced to a moat and the castle was rebuilt in the form of a fortified manor house. The main part of the work was the construction of a great tower housing, among other rooms, a new hall, chapel and a high chamber. Stone for the original castle had been transported from Caen but the rebuilt manor was mainly brick, made on site and stone from quarries from Eastbourne, Cranbrook and Fairlight. Timber was imported from the Corke Wood.

The Scott family remained in possession of the mansion for some 200 years until it was abandoned in the 1650′s. Stone from the ruins was used to construct ForstaI Farmhouse on the estate. In.500 years the castle had never heard a shot fired in anger.

Iden is a Domesday village (i.e. listed in the Domesday Book) and civil parish located two miles (3.2 km) north of Rye. Besides Iden Moat it has a 12th/13th century church (All Saints).

More on Iden in East Sussex

First posted in Surrounding Towns and Villages on 20th October 2009
Last updated: 29th November 2012