Built in 1385 in East Sussex, Bodiam Castle is among one of England’s most famous fortresses. It is known for its enchanting, mythical appearance, and its symbolic display of fortune and authority. Today, although in partial ruin and decay, it is still renowned for its magnificent beauty. Now owned by the National Trust, Bodiam was established by Sir Edward Dallingridge, a well-known knight and one of Sussex County’s leading citizens. The Bodiam Castle is a representation of the social, political, and stylistic ideals of 14th century England.
Dallingridge was a man greatly preoccupied with rank and position. He was a war hero, the Knight of the Shire for Sussex, and owned the manor of Bodiam. “…he married the heiress to Bodiam Manor, Elizabeth Wardeux, from whom he derived the property- two classical methods of self-enhancement at the period”( Fraser 62). He constructed the castle with several purposes in mind, one being to draw attention to his importance in society. He was given permission from King Richard II to secure his land from threatened French invasion. Instead of reinforcing the current battlements of his manor, Dallingridge used the license to erect a completely new castle near his home. “Granting such a license proved that the monarch acknowledged a lord’s place in medieval society- and that the honoree had attained sufficient wealth to erect a castle” (Hull 64). Dallingridge, very much an egoist, took the opportunity to promote his self-worth.
“He was a highly successful soldier and when he returned home from the wars in France, laden with plunder, he found the need to advertise his local status with a castle” (Vanderwyk). Although it does contain military attributes the extravagance of Bodiam Castle was done for recognition purposes. “Building this coup de theatre was Dallingridge’s way of saying that he had arrived” (Saul 16). Bodiam Castle is audacious and proud just as Dallingridge himself. He cleverly incorporated the theme of power through the intricate design of his fortress by making sure the interior was furnished in the utmost fashion and the exterior was war-like as well as sophisticated. “Daylngrigge’s castle boasted all the most prestigious accouterments” (Hull 62). It is surrounded by an oversized moat, producing a very picturesque landscape. The elaborate gate houses were mainly built for show and the court yard plan was known to be one of the most fashionable of the time. He manufactured the castle in impressive style in order to create a personal statement of affluence and supremacy. The fact that the castle was made of stone confirms Dallingridge’s interest in prestige, because it was one of the most expensive building materials of the time. It is an ongoing debate if Dallingridge truly constructed Bodiam Castle for defensive resolutions or as a dignified residence to show off his stature.
Political standards were highly regarded in the production of Bodiam Castle, because if the French were to attack...