Category Archives: Sussex
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.
The South West corner of the courtyard
The South West corner of the courtyard is the most complete section of the castle’s inner wall.
Beyond the fine windows in the right hand corner was the great kitchen. Behind the two lower windows were the buttery and the pantry. The left hand door led into the screens passage of the great hall and on to the postern gate.
However, this series is not here to look at the big picture. It’s here to look at the bits – the details.
The right angle junction between the South and West ranges is topped with a nicely shaped piece of stone. I had been in the castle on and off for eighteen months and never noticed this feature. A visiting archaeologist pointed it out to me.
It’s interesting because Bodiam has lost a lot of it finely worked stone. But it’s not that finely worked…
No, it’s mainly interesting because it’s possibly the only remaining indicator of how high the interior walls once were. This style of moulding probably ran around the interior walls of the courtyard at or near this height for most of the circuit.
It’s difficult with my camera to get a close view, but here are a couple of my better efforts:
You can see the profile of the moulding quite clearly here. It matches mouldings elsewhere in the castle on the towers and chimneys. There seems to be something strange in as the lower part of the moulding turns – it looks a little like a cylinder projecting. This may be a separate piece of or a trick of the light.
I’ve included this view to give a little more context. What you notice as the wall continues along the South range (to the left) is that it seems to be higher but not to have the moulding. It could be:
- that this wall was always higher,
- that it has been capped at a higher level during repairs or, whisper it,
- that the moulded piece has been reset in the wrong place.
This view does show how the internal wall behind the moulding butts in neatly behind it.
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.
There have been some amazing light conditions over the sea the last week. I don’t have the kit or the skill to do it justice but here is a gallery of shots…
What’s happening on the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion? There seems to be a BMX / skateboarding ramp up there.
The roof of the Pavilion can be an entertaining space.
On closer inspection it’s a nice little facility.
Is the DLWP adding street sports to its mission? Kind of. It looks like it’s going to part of the new Shaun Gladwell exhibition opening on February 2nd. I’m looking forward to it.
We went away for Christmas and New Year (more on this soon). Now we’re back, Winter is here – it even snowed today. It’s still nice to be here though.
A few photos from the seaside…
The whole gig was in French. I don’t speak French. It was still good. I was very proud of recognising the word ‘Blaireau’ – all those years of following cycling weren’t wasted then.
Some snaps below. Eddie doesn’t feature much as he didn’t go on stage until after dark. He was there the whole time chatting to people but I was too shy to ask for a picture.
Pat and I went to Herstmonceux Castle‘s medieval weekend. It was a busman’s holiday for me as I needed to buy some new kit.
The castle is only a few miles from us but it was the first time we’ve visited. We’d been put off by the castle itself being closed to most visitors but the outside is spectacular and the grounds beautiful.
The science centre (it was the Royal Observatory from 1948 for forty years) looks great and we’ll be back to visit that another time.
The castle itself is one of the earliest built in brick. It was substantially demolished around 1770 but was repaired and rebuilt in the first half of the twentieth century. There’s more, with links, at Gatehouse Record.
The medieval festival has been running for 20 years. Re-enactors come from all over Europe to take part in the sieges, jousts and entertainments. The traders’ fair is extensive. The medieval food available encompasses Doner Kebabs, Tikka Massala and Fish and Chips (and, to be fair, a hog roast). It’s a good (but pricey) day out for the family and the enthusiast.
It was good to meet up again with friends made at the Bodiam Medieval Weekend. If your looking for a pair of medieval spectacles (and I was) I can recommend GOCB.
There were nice sculptures like this (above, right) all around the gardens. There were no labels or explanations, which felt right. Not all art needs a 6×4 card.
On the recommendation of playwright Steph Dale, we went to see the Hartfield Community Play Parallel Lives last night. The play is written and directed by Claque Theatre’s Jon Oram – a man with years of experience in making community theatre.
The venue (and set) was the village church. The plot wove together stories from the village’s past. Each of the characters was based on a real person (some of them famous: A. A. Milne, W. B. Yeats and Ezra Pound had walk-on roles, Christopher Fry had a major role and local luminaries the Sackvilles, De La Warrs, Brasseys and Lady Dorothy Wellesley featured as well). There were 90 performers listed.
I like community theatre. One of my first writing credits was a scriptwriter on the Alvechurch Community Play The Odd Boy. I’ve acted in a few as well. The form requires a long term commitment, flexibility, a genius for logistics, usually an ability to work on a limited budget and a great deal of heart. The results are often theatrically exciting, satisfying and transformative for those taking part. It’s a rare opportunity for a writer to work with a large cast in a non-theatrical setting – usually a promenade performance.
Parallel Lives was a great night out. It started a little nervously but gradually, over two and a half hours, built and built. It took its time to bring its characters to life and interweave their stories across social barriers and across time. As darkness closed in the church became a magical space: horses and carts rode through, we met Saint Cuthman, I saw a pig on a lead and they built a church. Death was in the room but we affirmed life. Pat and I even got involved in a barn dance.
At the end the stories melded beautifully. The drama was thoughtful, moving and satisfying. But that was not all. The event itself was deeply dramatic. The performance (and in a promenade the audience performs as well) changed the people, changed the space. The plays I like activate people, change people. Parallel Lives did that.
We’ve had a couple of impromptu nights out this week.
On Thursday, on a whim, we went to a music gig. Local music shop Music’s Not Dead promoted their first show at the old Bexhill West Station. Part of the station is now an antique shop and café, Eras of Style.
The gig itself was played outdoors on the platform beneath the fantastic iron and glass canopy. The headline act was Jane Bartholomew with support from Dollboy.
The sunset supplied the light show and the seagulls came up with aerial choreography and backing vocals. The idiosyncratic setting was packed with people enjoying themselves.
It’s a great initiative. There’s a second gig on 19th July. Tickets from Music’s Not Dead, Eras of Style cafe and the c-side cafe.
We went for a walk into Bexhill this evening. There are strange goings on at the De La Warr Pavilion.
There seems to be a bus peeping over the top of the building.
We’ve been looking forward to this coming since it was announced earlier in the year. Kudos to artist Richard Wilson, the Pavilion’s team and principal sponsor Eddie Izzard.
Michelham Priory dates back to 1229. It’s a beautiful site with much to see and enjoy. We visited on a quiet day but there was a blacksmith at work in the smithy, a Tudor cook at work in the kitchen and archers demonstrating their skills in the grounds.
The house was originally an Augustinian priory but has been much altered and enjoyed a variety of uses since. This varied history is reflected in the architecture and the displays and artefacts shown.