Bodiam Castle - East Sussex, England



Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. Of quadrangular plan, Bodiam Castle has no keep, having its various chambers built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers, and topped by crenellations. Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle's design as well as defence. It was the home of the Dalyngrigge family and the centre of the manor of Bodiam.

The castle's location was ostensibly chosen to protect England's south coast from raids by the French. A landscape survey by the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments concluded that if this were the case, then Bodiam Castle was unusually sited, as it is far from the medieval coastline.

The area surrounding Bodiam Castle was landscaped when the castle was built, to increase its aesthetic appeal. Archaeologists Oliver Creighton and Robert Higham have described Bodiam as one of the best examples of landscaping to emphasise a castle. The water features were originally extensive, but only the moat survives, along with the earthworks left over from its construction. Roughly rectangular in shape, the moat is supplied by several springs, some of them within it, which made it difficult to drain during the excavations of the 1930s. A moat can prevent attackers from gaining access to the base of a castle's walls, but in the case of Bodiam it also had the effect of making the castle appear larger and more impressive by isolating it in its landscape. The moat is now regarded more as an ornamental feature than a defence. The approach to the castle through the moat and satellite ponds was indirect, giving visitors time to view the castle in its intended splendour. Military historian Cathcart King describes the approach as formidable, and considers it the equal of the 13th-century castles of Edward I in Wales, such as Caerphilly Castle.

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