Bodiam castle, East Sussex. The fairy tale castle from childhood dreams.

Once upon a time, in the 14th century when England and France were torn by the conflicts of the Hundred Years War, there lived an intrepid English knight Edward Dalyngrigge.
bodiam castle
He devoted the years of his youth to fighting in France as a mercenary and at free time, when there weren’t any battles, he was robbing French towns and villages with his fellow citizens. During the years of serving the country and having a shady “pastime” fearless Dalyngrigge not only became influential yet made a packet. After he had returned to his home in Sussex he settled down and married an heiress of Bodiam estate. But the Hundred Years War was in full swing, and neighbouring Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings were exposed to the French assaults. Sir Edward, knowing about the pillage not only by hearsay, decided to protect his family and home from potential raids. He appealed to King Richard II for strengthening his estate, but when the permission was received, instead of that Dalyngrigge started to erect a new castle nearby his already existing property. This castle was completed in three years and called Bodiam castle.

The fears of Edward Dalyngrigge didn’t materialize, and Bodiam castle has never been attacked by enemy troops. There is an opinion that the knight simply was in need of an excuse for building the castle. He wasn’t the eldest son in his family and therefore couldn’t inherit the family’s property, so Bodiam castle might be the way of gratifying his wounded ambitions. Many researchers claim unanimously that in case of attack the fortification wouldn’t stand the siege, because its walls aren’t strong enough, the moat, encircling Bodiam castle, can be easily dried, and the battlements are more decorative than protective as the space between the crenels is insufficient for giving shelter to a man.

Bodiam castle was lived in since the 17th century, having been remained safe and sound. But by a quirk of fate that which wasn’t destroyed by the foreign enemies, was carried out by the countrymen. In 1963, during the Civil war, Bodiam castle substantially suffered from the onslaught by the Waller’s Parliamentarian forces. Throughout the subsequent centuries it had been gradually falling into decay and turning into a charming ruin, inspiring the local Romantic painters.

tenterden steam railwayTenterden steam railway
One owner of Bodiam castle was changed by another, some of them made attempts to reconstruct the building, but it was fulfilled only in 1917, when Lord Curzon, captivated by the remains of its past glory, bought the castle and actually saved it from complete oblivion. He embarked on the renovations, in the process of which the exterior of Bodiam castle was brought back, though the interior remained in a deplorable state. After Lord Curzon’s death, in 1925, according to his will, the castle was handed on the National Trust that has been protecting it from any further destruction ever since.

Notwithstanding Bodiam castle hasn’t preserved its interior and in point of fact is comparable with a lovely frame without a photograph, it is all the same one of the most favourite castle for many people as well as the most revisited. It is often called “the fairy tale castle” and “the castle from the childhood dreams”. And Bodiam castle is truly looks as if it has come down a fairy tale book about beautiful princess and noble knight. Four main towers, enclosed by the battlements, the drawbridge above the moat – all is like in a fairy tale. There’s no dragon though, but this can be easily adjusted by your imagination…

10 things to do in and around Bodiam Castle

• To wander around the ruins of Bodiam castle, around its galleries and secluded spots, to plunge into the Middle Ages. Bodiam castle was the sort of “pioneer” of its time. The matter is that by the end of the 14th century the castles, equally with defensive functions, began to pick up the elements of luxury and comfort. Thus at that time Bodiam castle had already its own chapel, kitchen, pantry, the quarters for the lords, their guests and servants, there also were 33 fire-places and 28 toilets (“garderobes”), the wastes of which were flowing down the special chutes straight into the moat.
muscovy duckMuscovy duck at Bodiam Castle

• To climb one of the castle’s towers by spiral staircase and to admire the idyllic views of East Sussex with toy-looking cottages and oast houses. Apparently this is the panorama that attracts the ghost of the Lady in red, which, as rumours say, on some moonlit nights appears in a tower.

• To explore the “murder holes”, made in the upper portion of the main gate’s passage. These diabolical things were quite a common means of defence in the Middle Ages. In case of siege the occupants of the castle were trying to protect themselves by pouring through these openings boiling water, oil or pitch on their enemies. Slightly harsh, but as they say, “all’s fair in love and war”.

• To have an intent look at the life in the castle by visiting the museum of Bodiam castle and familiarizing oneself with some curious artefacts found during the excavation undertaken by Lord Curzon.

• To have a romantic picnic under the protection of old oaks and surrounded by the peculiar muscovy ducks.

• To stroll around Bodiam, the village of the same name with the castle. It has kept that special spirit of the past centuries, which only remote hamlets like this can remain. In the 20th century Bodiam was a somewhat of the local record-holder in growing hop-plants. Well, there are no evidences of have been get to the Guinness book of records, but instead it was Bodiam that had been supplying the Guinness brewery for quite a while.

• To go for a ride in a steam train operating from Tenterden to Bodiam through 10 miles of harmonious expanses of Kent and East Sussex.
east sussex englandThe views of East Sussex from Bodiam Castle

• To have a boat trip along the rive Rother from Bodiam castle until Newenden – the smallest village in Kent.

• To organize a photo session on the ruins of Bodiam castle. Not depending on the level of photographic skill the castle and its vicinity is an inexhaustible source for stunning shots.

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