Bodiam castle

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Bodiam castle, 15 miles north of Hastings (Sussex), has often been cited as a typical late medieval castle in which the defensive provision was secondary to domestic comfort. Its present appearance, a picturesque ruin surrounded by a wide moat full of water lilies, masks its serious military purpose. Built in 1385, at a time of threatened French invasion, to fortify the river Rother, which was at that time navigable by sea-going ships as far as Bodiam, the castle has wide water defences to keep attackers at a distance and to control access, and was one of the earliest castles to incorporate gunports. The main approach to Bodiam, via a causeway protected by a 90-degree turn, three drawbridges, a tower and barbican, in addition to a heavily defended gatehouse, is a prime example of the principle of multiple defence. As evidence of its importance, the castle was not slighted in the 17th cent. but maintained as part of the south coast defences against attack.

Lynda Rollason