The 14th century Castle Walk at Bodiam- Grandeur in Ruins

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Meeting nature amongst the grandeur of the ruins of the 14th century majestic sandstone Bodiam Castle in England surrounded with a moat and majestic towers; is till today a memory of the quaint and scenic castle. We drove though lush green backdrop of rolling slopes interspersed with bushes and trees to reach the car park. As we walked past the Millpond I recalled reading that we passing near River- Rother and in early medieval times Bodiam Castle was built on its crossroad- an important historical destination for trade and strategic position too!

14th century Bodiam Castle popular for family outings

Walking along the regal Bodiam Castle walls and moat, I felt as if I was about to step on to a movie set and it is no surprise that several films had been shot here in this  royal quadrangular castle with 4 round towers and 4 square towers! We were here to witness the ‘castle –home’ of Sir Edward Dalyngrigge – the builder of the Bodiam Castle and to view his son’s tomb stone from the year 1408! Additionally, it is a walker’s paradise and we noticed the fascinated- faces of several children looking for adventure amongst the well preserved ruins!! Further Bodiam Castle stands on the River Rother and is visited by boat or canoe too!

The Dalyngrigge Builders of Bodiam Castle

More than half way through we went past a spot where the remains of another middle-ages moat bridge were found that was for the special use by Lord Dalyngrigge himself. The vestiges were discovered by Lord Curzon in 1919, the then owner but the original bridge had collapsed by the 18th century!

We took a right turn to step on the momentous north Moat-bridge. I recollected reading that in the year1385, Bodiam Castle was built by a former Knight of King Edward III; Edward- Dalyngrigge to defend the area against a French invasion during the Hundred Years War though the invasion never happened then! Whilst on the bridge we spotted the impressive Twin-Tower entrance at the end of the long wooden bridge and an iron grill gate that was the only one left out of the original 3 Portcullis of the Bodiam Castle that would be slid down to safeguard the castle. The Portcullis were a strong heavy  iron grating on the main Gate that could be lowered to block it, an early medieval way for protection as we had seen in Indian forts as well!

The completely vanished other moat bridges can be seen in the background

Down the centuries the other 2 portcullis were removed for their iron so only one still remains, that we saw embedded in the upper part of the Gatehouse. The guide proudly added that it was one of the few portcullis’s that have survived in Britain from the early medieval era! The large wooden gate ahead was put here in the 19th century, bought from a Church!  Invaders, if ever tried but couldn’t have reached far for the Gatehouse had Booby-traps, Gun-loops and a ‘murder-hole’ in the high vaulted ceiling to drop heavy objects on the enemy’s head!!

The 13th century Relived

Many photographs later we crossed the Moat bridge to enter the castle and it is amazing that even though the interiors were well preserved ruins yet the towers, the walls and the rest add up to a picture-perfect setting for film shooting. No wonder almost 20 films, documentaries and television serials have been filmed here!

The well preserved ruins of medieval Bodiam Castle with courtyard and chambers around.

Now we were in the 1300’s years, family home of Knight Edward & Elizabeth Dalyngrigge whose son John Dalyngrigge was also a King’s Knight to King Henry IV –an accomplished soldier and politician with a distinct personality! We stepped in to see the well-maintained remnants with interiors left to imagination only!! The castle had a 14th century character – a central courtyard and apartments on the sides, along its walls. We first decided to step into the area marked the household apartments and came across a board that explained the Knight as an armed warrior, a trained nobleman in archery and even hand to hand combat who fought on horse-back! In the Time machine I witnessed Knight Edward and Knight John Dalyngrigge entering through the Gatehouse in a metal armours,   head-gears and swords with their crests on their tunics!!

Meeting the Lord and Lady Again

In the surrounding ruins we tried to envisage the outer chamber, inner and Great-chamber or the Reception room of Sir Edward and his wife Lady Elizabeth Wardeux who was a wealthy heiress and even owned the land on which Bodiam castle was built! We tried to trace the Fireplaces of the rooms long gone and the Window seat Ledges with natural light to work on books of finances, do embroidery or sew; by the lady! Further we were informed that dressed up in expensive clothes in rich colours, the Lady of the medieval castle was in charge of supervision of the daily supplies for the castle, organising the Banquets and Castle events too.

Chapel- Gone since the 15th century

Walking ahead we found a placard that described the Chapel of the Castle. We imagined the Altar to be where the East window is today that may have been embellished with expensive Stained –glass. The remains of few steps indicated a Sacristy – a room for the use of the Priest, items used in prayer service, robes and the more similar ones. The Lord & the Lady of the Castle could attend private service by reaching here from their apartments. I stepped into the time- machine to watch a Priest in Black- brown robes performing a religious service for the family and servants and he had woken up at 6 am to prepare. Later in the day he taught the castle-family children to read and write with his knowledge of Latin. It was sad to think what may have happened that led to this complete deserted and ruined atmosphere?

Gatehouse ceiling-the ‘murder holes’ to drop heavy objects on heads of enemy army!

We walked ahead to ‘see and imagine’ the rest of the Bodiam Castle so well recreated by the placards and boards- the Great Hall for feasting and Minstrels performances, the Postern Tower , the Stables, the Gardens and awaiting to witness the tombstone of Knight John Dalyngrigge in the cottage outside!