Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle

Infobox Historic building

caption =Bodiam Castle
name =Bodiam Castle
location_town =Robertsbridge, East Sussex
location_country =England, United Kingdom
architect =
client =Sir Edward Dalyngrigge
engineer =
completion_date =
date_demolished =
cost =
style =
run_by =The National Trust

Bodiam Castle is a quadrangular castle located near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England (gbmapping|TQ785256). It is said to be a perfect example of a late medieval moated castle.

It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, supposedly at the request of Richard II in order to defend the surrounding area from French invasion. However, recent research suggests that the castle was built more for show than as an effective defence. There is evidence supporting that research, as the walls of Bodiam Castle are only a couple of feet thick.


The castle is completely surrounded by a spring fed moat, with approaches from the north and south. The castle itself is rectangular in shape, being longer in the north-south, and has large round towers at all of the four corners, and a square tower defending the centre of each side. The castle well is located in one of the corner towers, the chapel in another.

The main gatehouse is on the centre of the North wall of the quadrangle for protection, while the southern square tower has a postern gate too. Both gateways had long bridges leading over the moat, of which the northern one turns at right angles on an octagonal bastion before reaching the shore. This provided further defence to the main gate by exposing any attackers approaching along the bridge to arrow fire (and, by this time, gunfire) from the defenders in the north-west tower. There were also machicolations in the gatehouse and in the postern to drop scalding water and tar on invaders.

Within the bailey is a ruined range of domestic buildings which were probably once very grand. To the right of the postern tower is the castle's great hall. Most of the castle interior was destroyed by parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, following their policy of slighting potentially threatening fortifications.

The castle is typical of later-medieval castles in that much attention was placed on comfortable living quarters, and as such its value as a military fortification has been doubted. Though the moat is a good barrier, the walls of the castle are not very thick, and there is only one line of defence (unlike a concentric castle). When it was built, early cannons were already in use, but castles were still valuable as bases for troops even if they were becoming more vulnerable to direct attack.

At the time of building, England and France were fighting the Hundred Years' War, which had been going on since 1337. The south coast of England, where Bodiam was to be built, was in constant threat of French invasion. The castle defends the upper reaches of a river that was navigable as far as Bodiam in medieval times. However, no such invasion ever came, and Bodiam was never involved in a medieval siege. Sir Edward died childless around 1395 and the castle passed to his brother's children, including William Dallingridge, before passing to Sir Thomas Lewknor and family in the late fifteenth century. During the centuries since its building, the castle was owned by a succession of powerful Sussex families, including the Levett family, for whom the lane in front of the castle today is named. [ [,M1 Bodiam and Its Lords, Sussex Archaeological Collections, Sussex Archaeological Society, 1857] ] After slighting in 1664 it fell into decay until the 20th Century, at one point its stones even looted by local builders.

The castle was acquired and restored by Lord Curzon and bequeathed by him to the National Trust in September 1926.


The reedbeds and moat of Bodiam Castle are home to moorhens, chaffinches, mallards, and a Muscovy duck.

Popular culture

Picturesque, the castle has been seen in several films and videos. These include "Monty Python and the Holy Grail ", in an establishing shot identifying it as "Swamp Castle" in the "Tale of Sir Lancelot" sequence, the music video for Saxon's 1983 single "Power and the Glory", and the music video for Enya's song "The Celts". It also appeared in the "Doctor Who" episode, "The King's Demons" [ [ Bodiam Castle - The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures ] ] . Bodiam Castle was also used for the exteriors of Huntington Castle in the third season of Robin of Sherwood in the two-part episode "Herne's Son", and as an unnamed rural castle in "Joe's Palace". The castle was also featured in several episodes of the cult ITV series Knightmare, being used as both a background setting and a VR background in which the dungeoneers walked in.


* Nigel Saul, "Bodiam Castle", "History Today", January 1995
* John Goodall, "Bodiam Castle", National Trust, 2001 ISBN 1-84359-074-3
* Bodiam Castle information from [ CastleXplorer]

External links

* [ Bodiam Castle information at the National Trust]
*oscoor gbx|TQ785256
* [ Castle's secrets yet to be fully uncovered. Hastings Today. 6 February 2007.]
* [ Grade 1 Listed]

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