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Bodiam Castle

Visited August 2015

Location Bodiam, East Sussex
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Robertsbridge
Parking Yes
Facilities Cafe, Shop, Toilets


Bodiam Castle is certainly impressive. It represents to many the perfect image of a castle- turrets, moats, drawbridge. The romance of bygone days. Truly a grand castle built to defend the household of a grand knight, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, an experienced soldier and veteran of the Hundred Years War.






Well, possibly. Except that research into the castle now points to it being more of a showcase than a serious defensive building- a display of wealth and extravagance rather than a military stronghold (Sir Edward was not alone in this ostentation, see Herstmonceux Castle and Nunney Castle)


The site of the castle was important as at the time it was only ten miles to the coast, and so threats of attacks from the French may well have helped his case when he sought permission to fortify his home. The castle is close to the river Rother which would have given Sir Edward control of the route, and it is also sited near natural springs, which provided a source of drinking water and a feed for the moat which was constructed around the castle.





No records survive of life in the castle at the time of Sir Edward, even the name of the mason is unclear, but it is thought to be the work of Henry Yevele, who also designed Cooling Castle in Kent. What is known is that after the death of Edward Dalyngrigge the castle was passed through the family and then sold to a series of owners who neglected it to the extent that there is no evidence of habitation of the castle after the fifteenth century.



The process of restoration was started in 1829 when it was purchased by John Fuller for £3000, with the specific aim of saving it from demolition. Several subsequent owners added to the restoration of the castle until Lord Curzon, an important figure in historical building preservation, bought the castle in 1919 and completed the final restoration. Although not restored  to a standard for habitation, Lord Curzon preserved the castle ruins to stop further deterioration, and it was through his will that the castle came into the care of the National Trust in 1926.





The castle in summer is massively busy, the car park gets very full very quickly and the castle itself is very crowded all through the day. Unlike other National Trust properties there is nothing at this site but the castle- there are no landscaped gardens or large areas of woodland for visitors to spread out into. So every visitor gravitates to the castle at the same time, as there is nothing else to see. This makes it difficult to appreciate- and photograph- trying to get a shot of the castle from the very end of the drawbridge is almost impossible as people are constantly walking into the photo. 


There are also sometimes queues to climb the towers at busy times, so if you don't like narrow staircases with no room to pass then try and plan your visit for a less busy time. We actually gave up on one of the towers as people going up and down at the same time had caused a jam in the middle. 


There are facilities at the castle- toilets, cafe, gift shop, but they are all sited at the entrance to the car park- the castle is about ten minutes walk away, so do bear in mind if you need the toilet whilst in the castle it is a fair walk back to the car park. There was a small shop selling ice creams at the castle on the day we visited, but no toilets close by. 


Despite the drawbacks of visiting in August, we enjoyed out trip to the castle, and a walk around the outer perimeter of the moat is slightly quieter and affords some fabulous views, so is well worth the effort. 





More info:  National Trust Bodiam Castle

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