Bodiam & Bodiam Castle
Situated in the north east of Sussex on the eastern River Rother close to the border with the county of Kent, the tiny village of Bodiam is famous for its fairy tale castle. The town is 1000 years old having been recorded in the Domsday Book in 1086, King William I's (The Conqueror's) record of possessions in his new Kingdom of England. It was originally the residence of Osbert de Bodeham but later passed into the hands of the Dalyngrydges. The village itself provides a good example of sleepy English village life with its quaint cottages and inns. The highlight of the village is the rather charming eccentric church of St Giles with its roof that slopes half way up and its upholstered pews that are unique to Bodiam. Also one of its bells is dedicated to the last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Salassie, who repaid the honour by donating a generous sum of money towards the restoration of bells. The Reverend a t the time of the dedication, A.E Cotton, had served the Emperor as a military advisor during the Second World War.
Until 1385 Bodiam was an insignificant hamlet. What changed its status was the threat of a French invasion. Already in 1377 a French raiding party had sacked the coastal town of Rye and it was feared that the French might put together a flotilla to sail up the eastern Rother. After being granted permission by King Richard II (1367-1400) to build a castle, Sir Edward Dalyngryde built, between 1385 and 1390, what was regarded at the time as a major defence of the upper reaches of the Rother valley and as such a major defence against the French. Although the expected invasion never happened, the castle maintains historical significance in that it was the last to be built along traditional lines because after the introduction of cannon, such castles were rendered indefensible.
The castle's history, nevertheless, has been interesting. During the English Civil War between the King and Parliament during the mid 17th century, it was damaged by parliamentary forces. And during the reign of Charles II (1630-1685), the first monarch of the restored monarchy, the castle was almost destroyed. After this it fell into decay and was saved from complete destruction by "Mad" Jack Fuller in 1829. It was not until the end of the century, however, that the then owner George Cubitt began to restore the castle. Restoration was completed by Lord Curzon, the sometime Viceroy of India, during the early part of the 20th century, who then left the castle in his will to the National Trust which in turn opened it and its surrounding areas to the public.