There is so much history and things to see and do in Rye that many of our guests will spend their whole holiday in the town. However, Rye also makes the perfect base if you wish to venture further a field. One destination that would make the perfect day out from Rye is Bodiam Castle. A mere 25-minute drive from the town takes you on a once in a lifetime excursion into the past.
Rising dramatically out of its watery surroundings Bodiam Castle paints a majestic picture of medieval times. Originally built in the 14th century this ancient edifice has gone from mighty fortress to ivy covered ruin and, thanks to painstaking restoration, now stands as a monument to its former glory.
One of the most picturesque castles in England, Bodiam boasts a spiral staircase, battlements, and the original spiked wooden portcullis which can be found in the gatehouse. Built in the quadrangle style popular to this era, Bodiam has crenellated towers on each corner and is surrounded by a protective moat.
Here visitors walk the same cobblestones once frequented by knights in armor, and can also enjoy tales of days gone by from the miller’s wife, the forester, and any number of authentic characters who now inhabit the castle grounds.
Located near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England, construction began on Bodiam in the year 1385. Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a knight of King Richard II, built the fortress as a defense against the French during the Hundred Year’s War. Bodiam also served as the family home to several generations of Dalyngrigge’s until it was occupied by Sir Thomas Leuknor during the War of the Roses. The castle subsequently passed through many hands until the end of the 1600’s when it was captured and “dismantled” or rendered unusable.
Fast forward to 1829 when John “Mad Jack” Fuller came into possession of the property and made some minor repairs to the long neglected structure. At this point it was fashionable to leave intact the vines and foliage which encroached on ancient ruins, so while romantic in appearance the castle was still in deplorable condition. The next owner, Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, decided that so rare a treasure should not be allowed to fall into ruin. With plans for massive renovation he began the process of restoring the castle, which was later taken over by the National Trust.
The trust provided new roofs, refurbished the moat, made necessary structural repairs, and updated the landscaping. Indeed, whether the weather be fine or foul the approach to Bodiam is stunning as visitors cross an expanse of shimmering water and come face to face with this majestic lady of the lake.
Today’s castle is a busy place, with over 170,000 visitors annually. Activities include free guided tours, character talks, and informative videos. Guests can even participate in the Outlaw Academy where they learn to shoot arrows and evade the local sheriff.
If you’re in the area, don’t miss this medieval gem. The haunting beauty of Bodiam Castle makes it a travel destination you won’t soon forget.