Surrounded by a wide moat and battlements towering above the surrounding landscape, Bodiam is one of the few remaining castles in the United Kingdom that has remained unaltered throughout it's history. Although much of the interior of the castle is in ruins, the towers and main outer walls, stand as they were originally constructed more than 600 years ago.
When the castle was constructed, it was the epitome of modern design, including the best that over 300 years of English castle construction could offer. With its wide moat, covering more than three acres and the positioning of a wooden bridge at right angles to the portcullis entrance, the castle possessed a strong defensive position.
Sir Edward Dalyngrigge founded the castle at Bodiam, after acquiring Bodiam Manor through marriage to Elizabeth Wardeaux in 1377. Sir Edward had come a town now known as ‘Dalling Ridge in Sussex in the South East of England and after gains he made during the so called, “Hundred Years War”, he became a very rich man.
In 1385, after recognising that the Manor was vulnerable to attacks from the French and the fact that The English Channel was now controlled by them, Sir Edward applied for Royal licence to fortify the Manor.
Once approved, he set about building a castle that would be prove defensive, as well as to provide fitting accommodation for a man of his status.
The castle was completed in 1388 and was never attacked. By that time, the Channel was back under English control and the French were no longer considered a threat.
Bodiam remained Sir Edward’s residence and headquarters until 1395 when he died, at which time the estate passed to his son, John. John died without an heir and the castle ended up in the hands of the Lewknor family, who, during the Wars of The Roses, surrendered the castle to King Richard III.
It was not until the English Civil War that the castle suffered any real damage, when in 1644, the Roundheads took control and demolished much of the interior to prevent it being a defendable stronghold.
Following this, the castle remained unoccupied for nigh-on three hundred years, hen in 1916 it was purchased by Lord Curzon, who rescued and repaired much of the ruins.
Today, the National Trust now undertakes maintenance and stewardship of the castle, after Lord Curzon bequeathed it to them in 1925.