Exploring a Classic Medieval Fortress (Bodiam Castle)

– Alicia, Andrew, and Mr. T. marching around the moat at Bodiam

I love you, God—
    you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
    the castle in which I live,
    my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
    where I run for dear life,
    hiding behind the boulders,
    safe in the granite hideout.

Psalm 18:1-2
– Rebekah and Alicia

History is an interesting and compelling teacher. Unfortunately, few seem to listen to the lessons it repeats so frequently. Wednesday’s outing to Bodiam Castle illustrated this eloquently. It’s a classic site, surprisingly intact for the most part, the kind of structure you would automatically picture if anyone said “Think English Medieval castle.”

So we went, enjoying a lovely drive through the countryside from Camber Sands. It was the best of pristine pastoral scenery and had Alicia continuously saying, “ooooh” and “ahhhh” and, “I want to live in England” all the way there.

– Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle does not disappoint. We made our way up to the imposing site, walking all around the expansive moat. After we successfully breached the entry and raised the portcullis, Rebekah and I hooked up with a tour group while Mr. T. happily climbed and played.

The fortress was built in 1384 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, an English knight who did two things to qualify for castle building. First, he participated in the “Hundred Years War” with France where he fought, and pillaged, and terrorized his way around Northern Europe until he had acquired his fortune (small groups of knights would ride around, simply looting and killing, independent of military campaigns). Then he returned to England to marry a wealthy, landed, heiress.

– trying out the “Lord and Lady” seats

Bodiam was built as a symbol of Dalyngrigge’s power and wealth, and to protect his fortune; and – ostensibly – to deter the French from invading this particular corner of England. But there was no invasion, and the powerful knight didn’t live that long after building the castle. It turns out that real satisfaction, and joy, and fulfillment in life come from things other than power and wealth.

Not a lesson that has been well learned in general, I’d say.

We enjoyed another glorious autumn day, with sunshine and moderate temperatures. Perfect for exploring the battlements and learning the stories.

– photographer Derek Maul

Then, when Rebekah and I were trying to decide if the castle tea-room would make a worthwhile lunch destination, Alicia found us and said she and Andrew had already grabbed a perfect corner table in the pub across the street. Good call, A-Team! Pub fish-&-chips along with a fine local ale made the perfect conclusion to another great outing.

The south of England, y’all, in the middle of October. I recommend it! – DEREK

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