Exploring Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Earlier this year, my parents – knowing how much we enjoy a good castle or stately home visit – very kindly gifted us with a year’s membership to the National Trust, home of castles galore.
Our first thought was that this would be the perfect way to pass what looked like another summer confined to Scotland, but when we finally managed to escape to the south of England last week for a quick break, we decided to take a look and see if there were any properties down there we might like to visit, too. Bodiam Castle in East Sussex was one of the first on the list, and, full disclosure, we rocked up at its gates without knowing anything about it at all: it was literally just a last-minute decision to pass a bit of time, and, to be perfectly honest, because I hadn’t heard of it before, I was picturing some kind of crumbling ruin, which we’d walk round in under 10 minutes, then be ready to leave.
Instead, we found this:
Which, OK, IS technically a ruin, so I did get that bit right, at least. It’s a pretty impressive one, though: we don’t have a lot of moated castles in our particular part of Scotland, and Bodiam looks a lot like a child’s drawing of a castle, with its square towers and wooden drawbridge, which made it particularly exciting for Max, who has asked to read his “castle book” every night since we came back. (He also keeps asking for a “real sword”, having seen “knights” fighting with them in a display in the castle grounds, but he’s having a lot less luck with that request, much to his disgust. Just glad we didn’t catch the jousting display, tbh…)
The inside of the castle is much more derelict than the exterior suggests, but you can still climb up some of the towers and walk along the battlements. We actually skipped the towers – that photo of Max on the stair of one of them is a far as we got – because those spiral staircases are super steep, and extremely narrow, and it just didn’t seem like a wise idea with an excitable toddler in tow. There was plenty to see at ground level, though, including the views out over the moat, and that creepy underground well, which, seriously, if no one’s made a horror movie about that thing yet, they need to get on that, STAT.
As always with our castle adventures, we couldn’t stay long enough to do justice to this place (Mostly because we made the mistake of telling Max there was an ice cream shop in the grounds, and that immediately became all he could think of…), but I guess that’s the beauty of a National Trust membership: because we didn’t have to pay to get in, we felt much more comfortable just popping in for a quick look around, safe in the knowledge that we’ll be able to go back again at some point in the future. And hey, maybe we’ll even make it up one of those towers this time…
(You can check out the Bodiam Castle website here)