Bodiam Castle is one of England’s best known and loved castles, encircled by its iconic moat and surrounded by the lush greenery so characteristic of this land. It is situated in East Sussex, built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who had once been a knight of Edward III. It was originally built in 1385, mainly with the intention of defending this area against the potentially invading armies of France during what would become known as The Hundred Years War. It was also meant to be an inviting home.
Bodiam Castle was built in a unique and interesting way. It is one of the few truly quadrangular castles and has chambers on the outer walls and inner courts. There are towers at each of its entrance points and all four of its corners, which acted as lookouts for potential attacks.
Bodiam castle at sunset, East Sussex, England.
Sir Edward Dalyngrigge was the youngest son in his family, which meant that he was last in line to receive any sort of estate inheritances. However, he married into a family that owned land and, by 1378, owned the manor of Bodiam. During his knighthood, which lasted from 1379 to 1388, he was well-respected and acclaimed throughout all of England. He earned enough money to build Bodiam Castle when he fought as a member of the Free Companies.
In 1383, it was ruled that there could be a weekly market and annual fair held at the stately Bodiam Manor. Just two years later, the entire population of England was sent into a state of panic when a fleet of approximately 1200 ships gathered at Sluys. That was when Edward Dalyngrigge was finally granted permission to fortify his home in a more formal way.
Instead, he chose to build an entirely new structure, Bodiam Castle. Because it was all built at the same time, it followed a similar theme and architectural design. At the same time that the castle was built, the beautiful gardens were landscaped and there were once extensive waterways around it. Today, the moat survives, and these surrounds work effectively to emphasise the beauty and grandeur of the castle, rather than detract from it. Although the moat is an aesthetically pleasing feature, it was really just a sewer for the castle’s almost 30 toilets. After Edward’s death in 1395, his son inherited the castle.
There is a central courtyard and there exist both rounded and square towers, originally built for defence. There are three coats of arms in relief in the arch above the main gate. These belong to the Wardeux (the family of the wife of Dalyngrigge), Dalyngrigge, and Radynden (relatives of Dalyngrigge) families respectively.
Unfortunately, the interior of the castle has fallen to ruin. However, basic dimensions and certain functional rooms (such as the kitchen, cellar and buttery) can still be identified. In addition, there is a chapel, a hall and an antechamber as well as accommodation for the lord and his family.
Bodiam Castle remains a popular tourist attraction for visitors, both young and old. School groups are frequently brought here to learn about their history. Visitors may get to meet real characters from the castle and will delight in exploring the grand courtyards and battlements.