Bodiam Castle Bits #4 – Chimneys
Bodiam Castle Bits is a series of posts looking at details of the castle that may have passed you by. Bodiam Castle is a NT property in East Sussex, England.
This post considers the chimneys
There are, I am assured, thirty three fireplaces at the Castle. They vary in size from the 13′ (4m) wide kitchen fires to small fireplaces in the tower rooms. When the Castle was in full occupancy they would have consumed enormous amounts of firewood. Somewhere on site would have been a substantially sized wood store.
Firewood was a major ‘crop’ from the woods of the Weald. There are records of firewood being shipped from Bodiam to the continent during the time of the Castle’s builder, Sir Edward Dallingridge.
The plumbing of the chimneys is sophisticated. Where fireplaces are one above the other the flues run one behind the other. In the photo (L) you can just make out the two chimney pots in line. This is an impressive feat of design and execution.
You can look up some of the chimneys to see the sky. This is particularly easy in the kitchen’s ‘pottage’ fire (the ‘roasting’ fire on the outer wall’s chimney has been capped) and the fireplaces in the controversially named ‘retainers’ kitchen’ in the West range.
If you’re looking up the chimneys of some of the smaller fireplaces in the towers, do watch your head. I speak from experience on this matter.
Many of the chimney stacks have disappeared but there are still a few to be seen. There are good examples on the North and East ranges. The stack on the accessible North range battlements has gone, but this does give you the opportunity to look down the chimney flue towards the fireplace.
Mark Lower (1871) described the chimneys as octagonal, over 9′ tall and in the late perpendicular style. He suggested that they may originally have been topped with crenelations but, he says, these decorations had eroded away. I’m not entirely convinced by that suggestion but it is difficult to get close enough to the remaining stacks to make a judgement.
He also suggested that the chimney stacks may have been added later, perhaps feeling that they were too advanced in style for 1385. They do have a Tudor feel about them, though rendered in stone rather than brick.
The later date seems unlikely. A close up of the east range stacks against the tower (below) shows how the moulding at the top of the chimney echoes the form of the moulding on the tower itself. It also shows similarities to the remaining moulding in the SW corner of the courtyard.
They do feel ‘of a piece’ with the design of the castle.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment or get in touch.
 Galloway, J., Keene, D. and Murphy, M. (1996), “Fuelling the City: Production and Distribution of Firewood and Fuel in London’s Region, 1290-1400” in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Aug., 1996), pp. 447-472
Do you know of any bits of Bodiam Castle that might be missed by most people? Do let me know if you do and I’ll try and include them.