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Our work at Bodiam Castle

Sandstone moated castle with scaffolding around one tower
Bodiam Castle with scaffolding around the postern tower in May 2023 | © National Trust/Jennifer Coe

The National Trust conservation team at Bodiam Castle looks after this ancient monument with care so that visitors can enjoy it into the future. Our team’s work ranges from daily cleaning inside the castle and managing the surrounding landscape to working with specialist stonemasons to conserve the castle itself.

Looking after Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is built from Sussex Wealden sandstone, which is soft and vulnerable to the elements. The National Trust’s care and conservation of the castle is a continual process to help reduce the impact of erosion by the elements over time. Many of the techniques and materials used are very similar to those from the medieval period when the castle was built.

Stonework conservation

Postern Tower

Continuing our programme of ongoing conservation repairs, in spring and summer 2023 we carried out re-pointing work on the Postern Tower. This crenelated tower on Bodiam Castle’s south side was the castle’s secondary entrance and once had a portcullis. The castle’s sandstone and traditional lime mortar needs maintenance due to the impact of being exposed to the elements over time. The mortar between the stones to the Postern Tower had eroded, so it needed repointing. We worked with specialist and experienced contractors and consultants to carry out the repairs in a traditional and sensitive way. Due to archaeology underwater we could not rest scaffolding in the moat, so it was of a cantilever design.

Scaffolding over a sandstone castle tower and moat
Cantilever scaffolding around a tower and over the moat at Bodiam Castle, May 2023 | © National Trust/Jennifer Coe

Murder holes

A specialist survey observed that organic matter was growing on the underside of the murder holes and that parts of the stonework were beginning to fail due to rainwater coming in.

Murder holes with organic matter underneath in Bodiam Castle gatehouse with scaffolding
Murder holes in Bodiam Castle gatehouse, seen from below before conservation work was completed | © National Trust/Jennifer Coe

In Autumn 2021 repairs were made with lime mortar and new discs were installed to deflect rainwater and protect the murder holes. If you climb the Gatehouse Tower and walk across the battlements and look down over the gatehouse you can see the discs in position.

Murder holes in Bodiam Castle gatehouse, with new discs installed above each one for protection
Murder holes in Bodiam Castle gatehouse, seen from above after conservation work completed | © National Trust/Jennifer Coe

South-east wall stonework repairs

In the south-east side of the castle courtyard, the area known as the Lords and Ladies apartments the stonework required repair. The condition was assessed, and it was concluded that some historic repairs which had used concrete between the sandstone blocks were causing damage, as the concrete was crumbling away. In 2021 the team commissioned a stonemason to make sympathetic tile repairs using lime mortar.

A castle wall repair in progress, showing areas of the sandstone wall infilled with tiles
A wall being infilled with tiles before being rendered - conservation work in progress at Bodiam Castle | © National Trust/Richard Fay

Keeping weeds on the walls at bay

On the ruins, vegetation can take hold on the stonework over time. The castle team as well as abseiling specialist contractors remove weeds to minimise damage to the castle walls.

Managing the historic landscape

The Ranger manages the historic landscape, developing projects in the parkland that support biodiversity and create an environment for visitors to enjoy. This includes creating priority habitat, changing the management of our meadows to lowland grassland habitat through agri-environmental schemes.

We survey and manage the many large trees in the landscape, leaving veteran features such as cavities and deadwood to support a wide range of species including invertebrates which will then help support Bodiam's nationally significant bat populations. We also continually monitor the water quality of the moat and other water features within what was a designed waterscape, created to complement the castle.

Thank you

National Trust conservation work is only made possible through the support of members, visitors, donors and volunteers. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Spring oak foliage and the castle towers in the background at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex


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