Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a member of the medieval Sussex gentry. It’s most notable feature is the surrounded moat, with huge stone towers soaring up out of it.
Bodiam Castle History and Design
It was designed to defend the area from the French invasion of the hundred years war, of which Dalyngrigge was very much involved in. There is no keep in this castle, instead all the chambers and rooms are built in and around the outer walls.
The fact that there is no keep leads us to think that perhaps this grand castle was not built entirely for defensive purposes. Yes, it has a moat, and yes it has huge towers with arrow slits for windows. But the moat isn’t that deep and the arrow slits are rather small. Could this castle be trying to look the part more than be the part?
In the impressive gatehouse is the castle’s original wooden portcullis, a very rare example, and there are enough interior areas of the ruins that still survive, to give you an impression of castle life. The castle was owned by the Dalyngrigge family until they had no more heirs to inherit it, which it was then passed by marriage to the Lewknor family. They owned it until the 16th century.
History shows this castle had some involvement in the War of the Roses. The owners, the Lewknor family, were Lancastrian supporters, and when Richard III from the House of York was king, he lay siege to the castle. There are no official documents to say what happened next, but the siege would appear to have been quick. Perhaps this was because the castle was not built to withstand full scale invasions, as mentioned above? The castle was then confiscated, but later returned to the Lewknor family, when Henry VII of the House of Lancaster became king.
The last owner, Lord Curzon, passed it to the National Trust upon his death in 1925.