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A medieval moated castle in East Sussex

Castle and moat from south west

Building of the castle started in 1385. It was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge who had been a knight of Kng Edward III of England. In those days, a person, no matter how important, could not choose to build a castle wherever he liked. The permission of the king was required and this was given by King Richard II.

Of course, there needed to be a solid reason for building a castle. The purpose of Bodiam was to defend England against a French invasion during the Hundred Years War. You may think that the castle is a little far from the coast for that, but who are we to question the King of England?

Unusually for an English castle of its vintage, Bodiam had no keep. The keep was the last and stongest defence of a castle in those times so I find myself wondering why one was not included. The design of the castle, as you can still see, was a great array of chambers sourrounding an open courtyard. Bearing in mind how far the castle is from the coast, that there is no bastion and the castle is built in a beautiful English valley, I can't help wondering if Bodiam was built as a medieval rich kid's ego trip rather that a device of the defence of the realm.

History shows that the owners of the castle through the ages have backed the wrong side in some major conflicts. Finally, to the detriment of the building itself.

The first mega-mistake was made by the then owner, Thomas Lewkner. He had gained possession of the castle as the Dalyngrigge family had died out. His error was made during the War of the Roses. Lewknor backed the Lancastrians. When the Yorkist Richard III becane monarch, the castle was confiscated. Luckily for Lewknow, when Henry Tudor, King Henry VII, finally won the war, the castle was returned to its owner.

The next big and almost fatal mistake for the castle occured during the English Civil War which started in 1641. The then owner, Lord Thanet supported the Royalists against the Parliamentarians. As a result he was heavily fined once the Roundheads won the war. The punishments were so great that he had to sell the castle which was subsequently partially demolished.

Since the demolition the castle has been owned by several perople. It is now owned by the National Trust. " For everyone, forever."

The Wikipedia page with much more detailed information about the castle is here.


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