In the following essay I am going to compare the functions and forms of Bodiam and Bolton castles. The two castles were built in the second part of fourteenth century and their builders were granted a license to crenellate from Richard II. As they are both part of a transition in the history of castle building, I will try to illustrate their functions as both defensive systems and comfortable and sophisticated residences. By analysing their plans, I would examine the differences and similarities in the arrangement and the design of the two castles.
Bodiam Castle is a late medieval castle was built in East Sussex between 1385 and 1386 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge (Fig. 1). Bolton castle was built by Sir Richard le Scrope in 1379 (Fig. 2). Both castles were made at a developmental stage of the history of castle building. They were constructed at a time when nobility were looking for comfortable residences that offered them not only security, but also spacious and agreeable places to live in. As a result of the invention of guns and gunpowder, which made many of their defensive measures impractical, castles at that time were in decline. Moreover, the weakening of military feudalism granted the king with greater authority at the expense of power, possessed by the lords and barons. Hence, military castle structures were no longer as appropriate as they used to be. A newfound desire emerged in the lords to demonstrate the authority they still had; thus, castles became comfortable residences that display wealth, rank and status .
The massive towers of the remarkably beautiful Bodiam castle and the broad moat surrounding it appear as the perfect example of the medieval castle. Nevertheless, this fortress functioned both as a stronghold and a residence . It is dissimilar to a lot of earlier castles that were dominated by internal keep, frequently with more than a few lines of defences and where protection was undoubtedly of bigger importance than the provision of sophisticated accommodation. As a replacement of Sir Edward’s earlier manor house, the castle needed to undertake the role of a luxurious and comfortable home for the lord of the manor.
However, unlike earlier medieval castles, Bodiam’s defences are rather simple: the highest importance is given to the Gatehouse (Fig. 3) and there is a single, rectangular perimeter wall. The drum-towers in the corners improved the defence but also served to additionally improve the design of accommodation within the castle . The vaulted entrance way has gun ports and machicolations, and three portcullises. However, it is not a major fortress. There are severe deficiencies in terms of protection – the walls are too thin to resist cans on fire, the moat could easily be drain so it might be merely seen as an aesthetic instrument in order to make the castle look more impressive. Moreover, the large mullioned windows of Dalyngrigge’s lodgings, the Great Hall, and Chapel would have jeopardised the defences. ...