Bodiam Castle – National Trust

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5/5

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July, 2015

Bodiam Castle belongs to the National Trust, and is a place I hadn’t visited before.

Upon leaving the car park you come to a point where, from behind the English oak trees, you suddenly catch glimpse of warm, grey stone towers and an impressive grand moat which circles the castle. This magnificent fortress, built in 1386 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, was apparently meant to discourage the French raiders from sailing up the River Rother.

It is certainly is a phenomenal example of military architecture in Britain, and to the eye, seems to have an ‘all too perfect’ exterior!

Surrounded by ducks, we decided to walk around the exterior first before examining the inner shell. There seemed to be two possible entrances – the Postern Gate at the back, or the main Barbican on the other side. The Barbican, now demolished, would have probably stood on an island, separate from the main gatehouse, and crossing a lengthy wooden bridge.

Today, as you approach the wide moat, supplied by springs and filled with large fish, you feel as if you have been transported back in time. Some blockbuster films have used this castle setting, including Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone, Some Like It Hot, and The King’s Speech.

Once inside, it is smaller than you imagine, but it does, however, have some interesting exhibits. We climbed the steep stairs, passing through some rooms, until finally reaching the top where you then get a fantastic view all around.

We then looked around at ground level, listening, at one point, to some gruesome and surprising tales from a forester, dressed up in costume.

In the South West ‘drum tower’ there is a deep, green circular well, accessed by steps leading down to it. Domestic buildings within the castle lined the curtain walls. It looked as though the structure was divided into separate living areas. The south part of the castle had the great hall, kitchen etc. To the west of the great hall was the pantry and buttery, linked by a passage.

I had read before visiting the castle about ghostly goings on, including a lady in red! If you pass near the ruins at night, it is said people have heard distinctive sounds of ‘spectral revels’ coming from the hollow shell. On occasions, a mysterious figure of a ghostly red lady can sometimes be seen gazing from one of the towers, looking out upon some distant object which no one seems to be able to work out why!

A little boy, dressed as if from Dickens day, was seen in 1994 by a custodian of the castle. He was running towards the castle but vanished halfway across the bridge, perhaps having fallen over into the moat and drowned?

Upon leaving the castle, I paused at the reception area to speak with a member of staff who I was told had actually seen the ‘Lady In Red’.

She told how she was locking up one day, and glanced up at the windows, catching sight of a woman dressed in red. She thought perhaps she had locked in a visitor, so unlocked and searched around for the person, but one could be found!!

If interested, ‘Ghost Walks’ are scheduled at intervals, so if you want an opportunity to experience some ‘ghostly goings on,’ then you know where to head for!

A fascinating experience in all!

Caroline Hutchings

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