posted 10-04-2002 09:22 AM
The following item is taken from "Discovering Castles in England & Wales" by John Kinross.
The magnificent remains of Cowdray manor are near the centre of Midhurst. About 1273 John Bohun built the original moated house. Sir David Owen's quadrangular building of 1520 was crenellated under licence in 1535 by Sir William FitzWilliam, and the gatehouse was added. Sir William became Earl of Southampton and Lord Privy Seal. He was succeeded by his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne, whose son Viscount Montague added the large Tudor windows in about 1554. The sixth Lord Montague built the gates at the park entrance and added more large windows.
In 1552 young Edward VI visited Cowdray where Sir Anthony Browne saw that he was "marvelously, yea rather excessively, banketted". In 1591 Elizabeth I came here and shot 4 deer, rivalling Lady Kildare who could manage only one. The following year Viscount Montague died and his tomb can be seen in the Midhurst church.
The second Viscount was in volved in the Gunpowder Plot but was pardoned after a years imprisonment, on payment of a heavy fine. The third Viscount was a Royalist whos estate was sequestered, and Parliamentary troops were quartered here until 1660.
In 1793 the eighth Viscount was drowned attempting to shoot the rapids of Laufenburg on the River Rhine. A few weeks earlier, on 24th September, a workman had left a charcoal pan burning in the north-west corner tower. The house was gutted by fire and many valuables were destroyed, including the Roll of Battle Abbey. The estate passed to the Poyntz family who lived in the keeper's lodge, and a further tragedy occurred in 1815 when their two sons were drowned at Bognor Regis. thus the saying of one of the Battle Abbey monks at the time of the Dissolution came true - that Sir Anthony Browne's family "by fire and water should come to an end".
In 1908 Sir Weetman Dickinson Pearson bought the estate and was made Viscount Cowdray in 1916. The ruins were repaired and later a small museum was opened"
I do have more information, but not immediately to hand. Assuming no-one adds to this beforehand, I will add more information later on.