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A quadrangular castle and its landscaped setting, an associated millpond, medieval crofts and cultivation earthworks, and a World War II pillbox at Bodiam

A Scheduled Monument in Bodiam, East Sussex

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Latitude: 51.0019 / 51°0'6"N

Longitude: 0.5429 / 0°32'34"E

OS Eastings: 578517.151482

OS Northings: 125582.666807

OS Grid: TQ785255

Mapcode National: GBR PVK.03X

Mapcode Global: FRA D60G.KBT

Entry Name: A quadrangular castle and its landscaped setting, an associated millpond, medieval crofts and cultivation earthworks, and a World War II pillbox at Bodiam

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 1 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013554

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24405

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Bodiam

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Bodiam St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument is situated on a gently rising, sandstone spur 250m north of the
River Rother and includes Bodiam Castle, a Grade I Listed Building, an
associated millpond, medieval crofts and cultivation earthworks and a World
War II pillbox.
Bodiam Castle forms the main focus of the site. This was built
for Sir Edward Dalyngrigge on his return from a successful career in the
Hundred Years' War with France. Dalyngrigge acquired the manor of Bodiam by
marriage by 1378, and cited the defence of the area against French raids to
justify the castle's construction. He received royal licence to begin work in
1385, and the castle was probably completed by around 1390. The castle rises
from the edges of an artificial island and is square in plan, built of
sandstone ashlar quarried at Wadhurst, around 15km to the north west. The
outer curtain walls fully enclose the inner courtyard and are of two storeys.
They survive almost to their full height, with crenellations on the northern
and part of the southern faces. The interior is entered through the main
gatehouse which is situated in the centre of the northern range. This is on
three levels, also has a basement, and has a recessed, central entrance
passage flanked by projecting rectangular towers, topped by a corbelled,
machicolated and crenellated parapet. The walls are pierced by simple lancet
windows, with gunloops at ground level. The medieval outer portcullis, made of
iron-clad oak, also survives. A further, subsidiary entrance is provided by
the postern gate, situated beneath the square, three-storeyed postern tower in
the centre of the southern range. The curtain walls link four circular corner
towers and two further square towers set centrally against the western and
eastern walls. The walls of the towers, and much of their stone-built newel
staircases, survive intact. The towers provided sleeping accommodation and are
lit by single-light lancet windows. In the basement of the south western
corner tower is a restored stone-lined well c.2.75m in diameter and around
2.5m deep, originally fed by a spring. Most of the fabric of the exterior is
original, although some restoration and repair was carried out in the 19th and
20th centuries.
In contrast to the castle exterior, most of the interior is in a ruined state.
The domestic buildings which ranged around the central courtyard were largely
dismantled during the Civil War in the 1640s, by which time the castle had
ceased to be used as a residence. The arrangement of doors, windows and
fireplaces evident on the inner face of the curtain wall suggests the original
layout. Most of the buildings survive mainly as footings or buried features,
although the walls of the kitchen, pantry and buttery, situated on the western
side of the southern range, and part of the western range, survive as standing
features. A large mullioned and transomed window, with two pointed lights,
near the eastern end of the southern curtain wall, indicates the position of
the great hall. The eastern range contained the principal living-rooms and the
chapel. The large east window of the chapel is situated in the curtain wall
in a projecting bay on the northern side of the central tower. It has three,
plain, pointed lights, partially restored in the 19th century. The northern
range is thought to have contained stables, a storeroom and a further hall on
two storeys, and the western range accommodation and service rooms for castle
The castle island is surrounded by a broad, sub-rectangular, north-south
orientated moat measuring 155m by 115m and around 2m deep, fed by natural
springs. Projecting halfway into the broadest, northern arm of the moat from
the main castle gateway is a stone-built causeway containing the remains of an
outer barbican and ending in an octagonal plinth which originally carried
further defences. Excavations in 1919-20 and 1970 revealed foundations which
carried the original, main bridge from the octagonal plinth to a surviving
abutment at the northern end of the western, outer edge of the moat. The
excavations also revealed the footings of a further bridge, since dismantled,
which spanned the southern arm of the moat from a central abutment, giving
access to the postern gate.
Surrounding the castle is a group of water management features and ornamental
earthworks connected with the construction of the moat, designed to add to the
defences and to provide an attractive, elaborate approach and landscaped
setting for the castle. The form of many of the ponds has been altered by
later drainage and dumping and they are now mostly dry. The moat overflows
through sluices on the southern side, near the south eastern corner, and on
the eastern side into an adjoining rectangular pond. To the north west is a
string of ponds which helped feed the moat, and, along with the overflow pond
to the east, guard and ornament the northern side of the castle. Traces of
terracing, possibly a carriageway, and ornamental earthworks survive on the
northern and southern sides of the ponds. To the south is a substantial, west-
east orientated, disused mill pond 160m long and around 65m wide which
originally helped to power a 14th century watermill which formed part of the
castle complex. A slight herringbone drainage pattern in the bottom of the
pond is the result of a former owner, Lord Curzon's, attempt, in the 1920s,
to turn the hollow into a cricket ground. To the east of the mill pond are the
remains of a further, smaller pond.
Bodiam Castle passed to the Lewknor family in 1470 and was sold to Sir
Nicholas Tufton in 1623. In 1644, the castle was bought by the Parliamentarian
Nathaniel Powell, and was partially dismantled around this time. The castle
began to attract interest in the 18th century, when it was admired as a
Romantic ruin. In 1829 the Websters of Battle Abbey sold the castle
to John Fuller of Brightling in 1829, who began the repair and restoration
work continued by two later owners, Lord Ashcombe and Lord Curzon. The latter
left the castle and its grounds to The National Trust, to whom it passed after
his death in 1925.
On the spur to the west of the castle are the earthwork remains of formerly
enclosed fields, the boundaries of east-west orientated medieval crofts, long,
narrow strips of cultivated land attached to smallholdings, and traces of
ridge and furrow. The croft boundaries survive as parallel banks up to 1m
high, and date from the late medieval period, when the castle's domination of
the surrounding area was in decline.
Around 100m to the south of the castle moat, between the castle and the river,
is a sub-rectangular, brick built World War II pillbox with concrete
foundations and lintels. The pillbox orientated north west-south east,
measures c.10m by 5m and has concrete steps leading down to the interior on
the north eastern side. The south eastern end is boat-shaped and faces
A number of features within the area are excluded from the scheduling; these
are the present bridge to the octagonal plinth from the north of the castle
moat, the modern wooden bridge from the octagonal plinth to the causeway, the
modern wooden floors inserted into the second floors of the gatehouse, north
western tower, mid western tower, postern tower and north eastern corner
tower, all modern railings, the gravel surfaces of the paths, all modern
fences, signs, fixtures and fittings and the modern work buildings situated at
the northern end of the rectangular pond to the east of the moat; the ground
beneath all these features is, however, included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A quadrangular castle is a strongly fortified residence built of stone, or
sometimes brick, around a square or rectangular courtyard. The outer walls
formed a defensive line, frequently with towers sited on the corners and
occasionally in intermediate positions as well. Some of the very strongly
defended examples have additional external walls. Ditches, normally wet but
sometimes dry, were also found outside the walls. Two main types of
quadrangular castle have been identified. In the southern type, the angle and
intermediate mural towers were most often round in plan and projected markedly
from the enclosing wall. In the northern type, square angle towers, often of
massive proportions, were constructed, these projecting only slightly from the
main wall. Within the castle, accommodation was provided in the towers or in
buildings set against the walls which opened onto the central courtyard. An
important feature of quadrangular castles was that they were planned and built
to an integrated, often symmetrical, design. Once built, therefore, they did
not lend themselves easily to modification. The earliest and finest examples
of this class of castle are found in Wales, dating from 1277, but they also
began to appear in England at the same time. Most examples were built in the
14th century but the tradition extended into the 15th century. Later examples
demonstrate an increasing emphasis on domestic comfort to the detriment of
defence and, indeed, some late examples are virtually defenceless. They
provided residences for the king or leading families and occur in both rural
and urban situations. Quadrangular castles are widely dispersed throughout
England with a slight concentration in Kent and Sussex protecting a vulnerable
coastline and routes to London. Other concentrations are found in the north
near the Scottish border and also in the west on the Welsh border. They are
rare nationally with only 64 recorded examples of which 44 are of southern
type and 20 are of northern type. Considerable diversity of form is exhibited
with no two examples being exactly alike. With other types of castle, they are
major medieval monument types which, belonging to the highest levels of
society, frequently acted as major administrative centres and formed the foci
for developing settlement patterns. Castles generally provide an emotive and
evocative link to the past and can provide a valuable educational resource,
both with respect to medieval warfare and defence, and to wider aspects of
medieval society. All examples retaining significant remains of medieval date
are considered to be of national importance.

Bodiam Castle survives well and contains archaeological remains and
environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it
was constructed. The survival of the water-filled moat, despite being drained
and partially excavated twice in the 20th century, provides conditions for the
survival of organic remains.
Gardens have been a feature of important houses since at least Roman times, if
not earlier, but in the 16th century gardens became larger and more formal.
Recurring features were terraces, ponds and canals, and in the design of these
there was a continuous interplay between social aspirations, artistic aims
and changing fashions. The earthwork remains of such gardens are important
archaeological features illustrating their recreational and ornamental
function and of course, the scale of investment in time and money.
Although somewhat altered by modern dredging, restoration and dumping, the
elaborate arrangement of water features and earthworks in which the castle at
Bodiam is set, and with which it may be contemporary, survives relatively well
and is an unusual and early example of a planned picturesque landscape. This
setting was further elaborated by a substantial earthwork platform situated
c.250m upslope to the north of the castle, which has been interpreted as a
pleasaunce, or ornamental garden and viewing platform for the contrived
landscape below. This is the subject of a separate scheduling.
The mill pond at Bodiam is sited within the castle grounds and survives
comparatively well despite some later alteration. It provides evidence for the
associated economic activity necessary for the support of a large castle
establishment, and the control exercised by the aristocracy on milling
operations during the medieval period.
The later medieval croft boundaries and ridge and furrow, and the
post-medieval enclosure boundary and cultivation earthworks also derive
importance from their location within the earlier castle setting. Their
existence illustrates the encroachment of an expanding local settlement and
its associated agricultural operations on the landscaped castle grounds and
indicates the decline in the importance of the castle in the later medieval
Pillboxes are small, squat, defensive buildings built to provide protection
for armed defensive troops in vulnerable areas threatened by German invasion
during World War II. The pillbox 100m south of Bodiam Castle formed
part of the defences along the Channel coast and adjacent river valleys. It is
of an unusual form and survives particularly well. The presence of the much
later pillbox close to the earlier, medieval castle, illustrates the continued
vulnerability of the area to invasion into the 20th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Curzon, L , Bodiam Castle, (1926)
RCHM(E), , Bodiam Castle Survey, (1988)
Thackray, D, National Trust Guidebook, (1991)
Hohler, C, 'The Flowering of the Middle Ages' in The Flowering of the Middle Ages, (1966), 140

Source: Historic England

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