Conservation in Action at Bodiam Castle

Nicole Perry, Conservation Assistant Nicole Perry Conservation Assistant
Top of the north-west tower

Visitors to Bodiam Castle this spring will be able to see a different perspective of the castle from the top of the north west tower which has reopened following extensive conservation work.

Discover a new view of Bodiam Castle

After years of closure and many months of conservation work, February half term week in 2019 saw the north west tower of Bodiam Castle reopened to visitors. 

Take a trip up through the gatehouse tower and across the battlements to view the surrounding countryside from the newly re-opened roof. There are some great views up through the vineyard behind the cottages to the ridge beyond and across the roof of the west tower to the well tower roof, not to mention the southerly view over the courtyard.  Look out for the fireplaces and window seats in the eastern walls of the castle, which would have been in the apartments of Lord and Lady Dallingridge.

Read on to discover all the work that we've been doing to open up this new view for our visitors.

What’s been happening?

On 28 August 2018 we began building scaffolding across the north side of the castle courtyard so that specialist stone masons could work on areas of the castle couldn’t normally be reached. The work was visible from the ground and outside the castle, and information was available, detailing what work was being carried out. Our Castle Steward and volunteer Castle Keepers were always happy to answer questions until the work was finished early in 2019.

Scaffolding viewed from the battlements
Scaffolding viewed from the battlements
Scaffolding viewed from the battlements

A scaffolding arch around the gatehouse

The Gatehouse tower was also in need of some work. The tower needed re-pointing with new mortar to strengthen the ruined walls, and a few missing sandstone blocks had to be replaced with new ones to strengthen the walls even more. The murder holes above the gatehouse were given some new lime mortar too. The last time this area of the castle was worked on was in the 1980’s, so we were pleased that we managed to raise the £25,000 needed just for this part of the project.

Scaffolding on the Gatehouse
Scaffolding on the castle Gatehouse
Scaffolding on the Gatehouse

Step by step the conservation progressed

Up until 2016 the north-west tower roof was open to visitors, but had to be closed after heavy rain caused a large leak that damaged the roof and part of the medieval sandstone staircase leading to it. The roof and the new safety bars were installed, but the last step was the staircase for another £25,000. The scaffolding that went up allowed us to get into the area, replace the ruined steps, and get the roof back open to visitors in February 2019. 

Old, damaged, sandstone steps in front of newly carved steps.
Original and new sandstone steps
Old, damaged, sandstone steps in front of newly carved steps.

What did this mean for our visitors?

While the work was going on, the northern section of the castle was closed to visitors across the autumn and winter of 2018, but there was still plenty to do at Bodiam Castle. Visitors could still climb the Postern tower to the roof to look at the wonderful views across the valley; watch our 'Story of Bodiam' film, visit our exhibitions, and join our guides for tours of the castle and grounds.

Come and visit soon and see the results of the National Trust's on-going conservation work that helps to keep places like Bodiam Castle special for everyone, for ever.