The only part of the original Norman castle wall which still stands upon a huge natural mound is a 76ft high fragment of what was once a mighty fortress. Perched in this position, the castle was perfect for defending nearby old Shoreham which was situated on the river Adur. The name Bramber comes from the Saxon 'Brymmburh which means fortified place.
Bramber Castle was, in the reign of King John, owned by William de Braose whose opulent lifestyle made him the envy of his monarch but he was to incurr the King's displeasure in the events leading up to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 AD.
The King decided to make an example of Braose and ordered that he give up his four young children to be hostages of the King insuring their father's future good behaviour. When this unreasonable demand was refused, King John sent an army to Bramber with instructions to take the children by force.
Braose learned of the plan and together with his family fled to Ireland but they were later captured, returned to England and imprisoned at Windsor Castle where the spiteful King had the four children starved to death as a warning to other disobediant barons.
Although they died at Windsor Castle, it is to the sad ruin of Bramber Castle that the spectres of the murdered children are said to return particularly at Christmas when they are apparently sometimes seen begging for food.