Experience the medieval romanticism of Bodiam Castle this Valentine’s Day, with a candlelit dinner in the grounds of one of Britian’s most magical ruins.
Step back to the 14th century when knights on horseback courted their ladies to the music of a lute. Inside the grand walls, the building is a ruin, but the towers are intact, along with spiral staircases, battlements and a portcullis. On Saturday or Sunday, you can climb to the top with your loved one, and enjoy the scenic views across the Sussex countryside.
The castle regularly plays host to historic re-enactments and has featured in film and TV productions including Dr Who, Monty Python’s Holy Grail and children’s adventure game
However, nocturnal visitors on Valentine’s night should beware of spooks. In the dead of night, strange sounds, music and song have been reported, emanating from inside the castle walls.
Spooks and spectres
The estate’s property manager claims this is simply the sound of 300 sheep echoing down the valley. “It’s remarkable how it sounds when you’re a few miles away,” he said. But author Richard Jones, who has has written about the sightings here, reckons there’s something more sinister afoot.
In 1994, a boy in Victorian dress was seen running towards the castle – he vanished on the drawbridge and is believed to be the spirit of a boy who fell into the moat and drowned.
A mysterious spectral lady in red has also been spotted in one of the round towers. She reportedly gazes out of the West Tower, fixated on a distant land. Occasionally, today’s visitors to the castle report a cool atmosphere or strange aura.
The castle was built as a fortress in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a Knight of the
Shire of Sussex, who held considerable power. It was intended to defend the area against possible French invasion during the Hundred Years War, but was never tested in battle. A siege was planned by Richard III in 1483, but it is believed that the castle surrendered without much resistence.
In following years, it became a luxury stately home for Sir Edward’s family and his descendents.
It was partially dismantled after the English Civil War so that it couldn’t be used as a stronghold. But by the early 1800s, the castle was recognised as a historic treasure, and, although ruins covered in ivy were fashionable at the time, parts of it were restored.
Preserving the past
Further restorations took
place in the early 20th century, and the moat was restored to its former glory. Then in 1925 it was given to the National Trust. Today, it is a Scheduled Monument and Grade-I listed.
The castle’s history is celebrated in peak season, by a series of medieval reenactments on the lawn. There’s also a visitor centre and exhibition, providing more insight into its history and occupants.
HOW TO GET THERE
From the M25, take J5 exit
on to A21, passing Royal Tunbridge Wells. Take a left fork past Silver Hill and follow the lane to Bodiam. The nearest train station is Robertsbridge.
FIND OUT MORE
near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA
The Candlelit Dinner takes place in the Function Room,
on Valentine’s Day – Friday,
14 February – at 7.30pm.
Book tickets by calling:
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The George Inn
High Street, Robertsbridge
East Sussex TN32 5AW