When is a castle not a castle?
In the case of Cowdray Castle, when it is a very fine Tudor manor house.
Although crenellated it was never intended to be used as a defensive structure. These days it is often referred to as Cowdray House or, more confusingly as Cowdray Heritage.
Built on the site of an earlier fortified manor house, the current building dates to the 1520s. It was built by an uncle of Henry VII called Sir David Owen.
Both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I are known to have visited Cowdray in its heyday.
However, disaster struck on 24 September 1793 when a fire started in the carpenters' workshop in the North Gallery and most of the property was destroyed.
Currently (2018) it is only open for pre-booked guided tours. For times, admission prices, etc. please see the official site.
It remained an untouched ivy clad ruin until a restoration project was carried out between 1909-1914 by the 1st Viscount Cowdray.
Following a major preservation and conservation project in 2006 the ruins were opened to visitors on 31 March 2007. They are currently in the care of the Cowdray Heritage Trust, an independent charity now responsible for managing the site.