Bodiam Castle, located in picturesque East Sussex, England, does a very satisfactory job of looking almost exactly like the castle of one's fairy-tale inspired imagination.

The ancient manor home of the Norman Bodeham family was to be fortified in 1385 by one Edward Dalyngrigge, who made the intelligent decision in 1378 to marry into the wealthy Warddeaux family, which some generations earlier was bright enough to marry its way into the Bodiam clan. The construction was to be done with King Edward III's express permission and blessing, as England was once again under the threat of a French invasion, the Hundred Years' War by this time being well under way.

Dalyngrigge, however, was sufficiently taken with the manor house that he didn't want to change it, and so elected to build an entirely new structure on an equally new site, along the River Rother. The resulting castle claims the distinction of being the last medieval fortress built in England, though it was never really put to the test. Bodiam fell under attack only twice--both times as the result of civil unrest or war, leaving the French to titter quietly to themselves on the other side of the English Channel. Richard III's forces took the castle in 1484, and Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads did the same again in 1645, during the Interregnum. The latter ordered the place torn apart, so the interior was virtually gutted, but on neither occasion did the exterior walls face anything in the way of an artillery-based siege. They remain intact.

Bodiam is noted for its symmetry, with each corner of the curtain wall adorned by a four-story cylindrical tower. Square towers were built midway along each wall, with the drawbridge being attached to the southern one. Instead of being raised or lowered, this drawbridge was designed for horizontal/lateral movement, being pulled across the wide wet moat into place from a resting position parallel to the castle.

The chapel's location within the castle is indicated by the presence of a single ornate window frame similar to those found in churches at the time.

The gunports and loopholes were added in the 18th Century, well after the time of serving a purpose, and giving further evidence to the castle's true nature of being in architectural transition, somewhere between genuine fortress and comfortable estate. While maintaining the appearance of battle-readiness, it is speculated that the walls are too thin to have withstood cannonfire, and the loopholes too ill-placed to provide a defender with any reasonable amount of room to aim.

Having lapsed into disrepair in the 19th Century, Bodiam was purchased by John Miller in 1828, who saved it from total demolition. He sunk no small sum of money into the place, replacing the main gate, but even so, it became little more than a glorified garden, sometimes tended, more often not.

In 1917 Lord Curzon took possession, and did additional repairs and renovations until his death in 1925, at which point it was bequeathed to the National Trust.

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