Christmas pudding archery shoot at Bodiam Castle

An arrow shot through a Christmas pudding in front of Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle Christmas pudding shoot National Trust / Helene Marler

Did you know that one of the long standing Christmas traditions at Bodiam Castle is a group of archers shooting Christmas puddings?

How a tradition was born

At least 25 years ago a Christmas pudding manufacturer decided to reduce the amount of preservatives in Christmas puddings. But, when they hit the shelves, this meant each was covered in an edible mould. Although they were ok to eat, customers understandably didn’t like the idea of eating them and returned them en masse. All stocks had to be removed and destroyed.

Step in the castle’s winter archery clout team who offered to destroy them by shooting arrows at them. The Bodiam Castle Christmas Pudding Clout was born. To date there are around 50 archers who shoot in our meadow, this year they’ll be here on 4 January 2015.

Christmas pudding archery today

The archers now shoot at target bosses in what is thought to be the medieval joust ground at Bodiam Castle, Doakes Meadow. The winner takes home a wooden effigy of a Christmas pudding, a nod to the origins of the clout.

Come and watch this old tradition as it takes place on 10 January between 10am-2.30pm in the meadow behind the castle. We've created a special, roped off area for spectators to watch at a safe distance from the arrow fire. Archers will also be happy to answer any questions on the clout itself, the techniques of accurately hitting a target and the origins of their Christmas Pudding Clout.

Bodiam Castle Christmas pudding shoot
An archer eyeing up a Christmas pudding target at the Christmas pudding shoot at Bodiam Castle
Helene Marler

Find out about Christmas traditions old and new

Visit the castle in December to talk with our medieval characters about Christmas traditions old and new and how some have carried forward to the present time or evolved into new Christmas traditions that we know and love today.