On our birthday trip, Steve and I visited Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. This is not only one of the most beautiful castles in England, but one of the funnest to visit. The inside is gutted, but we were able to climb spiral staircases up to the top of most of the towers and walk across the battlements.
Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 to 1388 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a knight who made his fortune fighting the French during the Hundred Years war. Power and influence as far as the crown was concerned was hard fought and won on the field of battle. Armies were ‘Free Companies’ – private mercenary groups fighting under a commander loyal to the crown. Apparently the mere mention of the name Edward Dalyngrigge would cause French peasants to jump in the river from fear. Fun to imagine sneaking up behind someone and hissing ‘Dalyngrigge‘.
In the mid 14th Century, Edward III was engaged in the Hundred Years War against the French – laying claim to what he considered his right, the Crown of France. As with all wars that followed the English Channel was strategically vital to the success of the English cause. Control of the Channel passed backwards and forwards between the two nations during the 1300’s with invasions taking place on both sides. The south coast of England therefore was being constantly strengthened and fortified during this period. Due to a number of attacks by the French on towns on the southern English coast, there was a good reason for building a well-defended castle close to the south coast. At the time, the River Rother was still navigable as far as Bodiam and the French could have easily have sailed an invading or raiding force there. Consequently, King Richard II issued a Royal Licence to Dalyngrigge in October 1385 to crenellate his manor house at Bodiam. The licence, in Latin, stated:
“…that he may strengthen with a wall of stone and lime, and crenellate and may construct and make into a Castle his manor house of Bodyham, near the sea, in the county of Sussex, for the defence of the adjacent country [France], and the resistance of our enemies.”
Dalyngrigge acquired the estate and manor of Bodiam through his marriage to the heiress Elizabeth Wardeux. The castle design is a simple square with turret towers at each corner and a square tower in the middle of each wall. The castle was never beseiged during their lifetime and it was mainly a very comfortable home. Here are overviews of the layout and history of Bodiam Castle.
A moorhen chick
Main entrance across the moat, guarded by a duck
Wardeux, Dalyngrigge and Radynden family shields
Murderholes in gatehouse ceiling