Britain’s Most Romantic, Bodiam Castle

One of Great Britain’s most picturesque and beloved castles is Bodiam Castle. According to a lot of historians, Bodiam is the typical medieval castle.
Bodiam’s images have been embellished on numerous books, chocolate boxes, and wallpapers that are shipped all over the world. It is frequently referred to as “the perfect English castle.”

Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, built Bodiam Castle in 1385 to protect the area from French invasions during the Hundred Years’ War. Historians disagree about whether the castle was built as a romantic country home to evoke feelings of grandeur and prestige or as a military fortress.

There was a little stronghold on the site before the Norman victory. The land was given to the Bodeham family after the Normans took control, and they lived there for nearly three centuries, strengthening and expanding the structure.

In 1378, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge married into the Bodeham family and took possession of the land.
Sir Dalyngrigge was a prominent figure in Sussex because he was a Knight of the Shire. Because his older brother received all of his father’s inheritance, he was forced to generate his own wealth. He collected the majority of his cash as an individual from Free Organizations – a gathering of hired soldiers who battled in France during the initial segment of the Hundred Years’ Conflict.

Richard II took over for King Edward III when he returned to England in 1377. Parliament voted to spend money on defending and fortifying England’s south coast as hostilities returned. Edward Dalyngrigge received permission to fortify his manor house in 1385.

However, Sir Dalyngrigge chose to construct a brand-new castle on a specific spot in the middle of his land that was ideal for a vast moat rather than strengthening his existing manor house. The castle we see today is essentially the same as this one.

The original structure of the castle, Bodiam Castle, was constructed on a straightforward rectangular plan with no keep in the middle of an artificially created watery landscape that resulted in the creation of a stunning moat around it. There are square central towers on three of the four sides and four circular “drum” towers at each corner.

The castle could be entered from 2 side of the moat:

1. In the northern part of the castle, a gatehouse with two towers served as the main entrance.

A 14th-century moated castle in East Sussex.

August Schwerdfeger, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A wooden bridge that initially leads to an island in the moat known as the Octagon was required for anyone wishing to enter through the main entrance.

A Barbican existed between the Octagon and the main gatehouse; it was demolished in the 17th century. The small island was connected to the main gatehouse by a second small bridge, probably a drawbridge.

Three wooden portcullises would have originally blocked the gatehouse entrance. One of them survived and is a rare example of its kind that visitors can admire.
Accordingly, hypothetically, aggressors who might adopt on this long strategy would have been very helpless against bolt fire from the palace. They would have to use the long, winding bridge to get to the small island first, and then they would have to go to the gatehouse, where they would be constantly under attack from the towers.

The actual gatehouse was loaded up with various snares, including the three portcullises and openings for bubbling oil.

2. Through a postern gate in the middle of the south wall, the second entrance was on the opposite side.

A 14th-century moated castle in East Sussex.

14th-century moated castle in East Sussex.
A long timber bridge and a drawbridge would have connected the postern gate to the south bank of the moat.

The castle’s structure, details, and location all point to the fact that display was an important part of its design, regardless of Sir Edward’s true intentions. For instance, when Bodiam Castle was built, the area around it was landscaped to make it look better.

Bodiam’s moat not only prevented intruders from entering the base of the castle, but it also made it appear larger and more impressive. The moat is more of an ornamental feature than a defense, according to many scholars.

Although the precise date of construction of the castle is unknown, evidence suggests that it was completed around 1392. Sadly, Sir Edward passed away in 1395, so he never got to see the finished castle.
John Dalyngrigge, the son of Sir Edward, inherited the entire estate, including the castle. Like his father, he was a King’s Knight and enjoyed the king’s favor.

Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Philippa Dalyngrigge, who owned the castle at the time, married Sir Thomas Lewknor, a member of a well-known family that owned land all over the country, in 1470. After he passed away in 1408, the castle passed through a number of family members until that point. That’s how the Lewknor family got their hands on the castle.

During the 1455 Wars of the Roses, which started, Sir Thomas Lewknor backed the House of Lancaster. Sir Thomas was accused of treason when Richard III of the House of York became King in 1483, and Richard III’s army besieged Bodiam Castle. Despite the lack of definitive evidence, it is highly likely that Sir Thomas gave up the castle without much opposition. A constable was appointed at the castle and the property was taken away.

Pilgrimsoldier, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Nonetheless, the occasions turned two years some other time when Henry VII of the Place of Lancaster became Ruler. The Lewknors received Bodiam Castle back, but they didn’t receive all of the surrounding land until 1542.

Bodiam Castle was owned by several generations of the Lewknor family over the next two centuries, but little is known about how it was used during this time.

Lord Thanet, who had purchased Bodiam Castle in 1639, had it by the time the English Civil War began in 1641. Throughout the War, he backed the Royalists;As a result, the Parliament fined him a lot and took some of his lands away from him. Thanet had to sell the entire estate to a Parliamentarian named Nathaniel Powell in order to pay the fine.

Many British castles were demolished during and after the Civil War to prevent their reuse. Bodiam had the same faith, but thankfully the castle was not completely destroyed;It was thought to be sufficient to demolish the castle’s buildings, bridges, and Barbican.

WyrdLight.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
For a significant part of the following 200 years, the palace was left as a beautiful ruin. Because of its connection to the medieval era, the location gained popularity as an early type of tourist attraction at the beginning of the 18th century. The revival of Gothic architecture and the restoration of previous structures were influenced by medieval buildings and ruins.

John Fuller eventually purchased the castle and began restoring it before selling it to George Cubitt. Further restoration efforts were carried out by Cubitt and, later, Lord Curzon. The stonework was repaired, the vegetation that had been neglected up until that point was finally cleared, and the original floor level was reestablished throughout the castle.

LASZLO ILYES from Cleveland, Ohio, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bodiam Castle was given to the National Trust by Lord Curzon in 1925. The restoration work was continued by the National Trust, and the castle was made accessible to the public.

As previously stated, the true military function of Bodiam Castle is the subject of debate in castle studies. It’s possible that the castle was intended to be a formidable fortress when we first see the original structure. A few history specialists really do uphold this hypothesis, truth be told.

In contrast, other academics contend that Bodiam was constructed as a Medieval love story, with prestige and grandeur taking precedence over defenses. The following elements are the primary focus of their arguments.

Since the moat could have been drained in a day, many historians believe that it did not impede attackers significantly. It served more of an ornamental purpose, making the castle appear more impressive and larger.

Louis Mackay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The upper floors’ windows are far too small to serve as arrow slits. The purpose of this disproportionate size was to give the impression that the building is much taller than it actually is.

The observer must be some distance away from the building for the trick to work. The moat also plays a significant role in this situation because it forces the observer to keep some distance from the castle and has the effect of forcing the perspective.

Rather than the upper floors windows, the lower floors windows were too huge and subsequently cautious flimsy parts.

When a person enters the castle, they immediately get the impression that the structure is taller, which makes it look more impressive. It appears much larger on the outside, but inside it is much smaller.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the flat hill behind the castle was used as a viewing platform to admire the castle’s beauty.

Bodiam Castle by David Robinson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The castle that is now known as Bodiam Castle is a fantastic place to visit because it looks almost too romantic to be true. It is regarded as “the most complete surviving example of a quadrangular castle” by military historian Cathcart King.

The Grade I-listed Bodiam Castle is a historic structure of national significance as well as an internationally significant structure.

Even though most of the interior of the castle has been destroyed, enough of it has survived to give an impression of life in the castle. The unique original wooden portcullis of the castle is housed in the impressive gatehouse.

At the border of East Sussex and Kent, the castle is on the outskirts of the small village of Bodiam. Bodiam and the picturesque town of Tenterden are connected by a seasonal steam train.

The castle is open to the public, and figures indicate that nearly 200,000 individuals visit the castle annually. The stunning landscape, which appears to be as impressive in person as it does in the photographs, can be seen by visitors.

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