About Bodiam Castle
Perhaps one of Britain’s most picturesque castles, Bodiam Castle in East Sussex was built in the 14th century as a grand medieval stronghold. Though ruined during the English Civil War, it was partly restored in the 19th and 20th centuries, and is now a popular tourist attraction operated by the National Trust.
Bodiam Castle history
Originally a manor house, Bodiam was converted into a castle by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385, after being granted a licence by Richard II to crenellate its walls in fortification. Dalyngrigge had fought in the Hundred Years War, and upon returning to England in 1377 married Elizabeth Wardeux, through whom he came into possession of Bodiam Manor. The newly-converted castle now served a dual purpose – both as a status symbol for Dalyngrigge, and as a defence against a potential, albeit unlikely, French invasion on the south coast.
The castle itself – interestingly of quadrangular design – is characterised by its great moat and impressive symmetry, with the living quarters built into the walls surrounding an open courtyard. The construction of the Bodiam’s large moat gave it a modern edge for its day, as instead of being fed by nearby rivers (as other castles of the period were) it was innovatively filled by springs.
The moat served as an almost impregnable defence during the medieval period, when the commonly-used siege warfare would have been rendered ineffective. Aside from during the Wars of the Roses when the castle’s Lancastrian owner Sir Thomas Lewknor surrendered to Yorkist forces, Bodiam Castle was never attacked or taken by force however.
Still, despite having tough outer defences Bodiam could not always be saved from damage. When it was sold to Parliament during the English Civil War, the interior of the castle was almost entirely destroyed to avoid any further use by the Royalists, in a strategic practice known as slighting.
During this period the façade was also allowed to fall into ruin, until a succession of owners in the 19th and 20th centuries, notably Lord Curzon who purchased the site in 1926, eventually restored Bodiam Castle to its current state.
Bodiam Castle today
Today Bodiam Castle is managed by the National Trust, and invites visitors to explore its stunning ruined interior and imposing outer walls. The eminent moat continues to surround the castle, over which a long wooden bridge brings guests to its grand gatehouse – complete with an original portcullis and the carved coat of arms of the castle’s founder.
The Postern Tower and medieval Chapel provide a look into the building’s eminent past, with their large windows and detailed stonework a sign of the site’s previous wealth and status. Detailed information boards guide you through Bodiam’s dramatic ruins, with recreations of what it once would have looked like bringing its story to life, as you explore almost 700 years of British history.
Getting to Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle is located near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, off the B2244 road. The nearest train station is Bodiam, where seasonal steam trains run, while the nearest Mainline station is at Robertsbridge, 5 miles away. The 349 Stagecoach from Hastings also stops right outside the main car park entrance.
Discover the best historic sites in England, from Bodiam Castle to Beaulieu Abbey and more, includes an interactive map of English heritage attractions.