You may recall that we visited Kent for a few days last month, for Monkey’s birthday. We’d spent the morning of his birthday enjoying a steam train ride on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, had some lunch and I’d got an idea in mind for the afternoon. Monkey has visited a number of castles with us now, from the ruins of Kenilworth and Dover, to the artillery castle at Deal and of course, a few visits to Warwick Castle. He loves them all but there has been one thing missing. A moat, a moat with water in it. It was time to put that right as we spent a cold, grey afternoon exploring Bodiam Castle.
The National Trust 14th century property took about half hour to get to from Tenterden in Kent and is based on the outskirts of Bodiam visit. On normal steam running days, it’s also only a few minutes walk away from Bodiam train station. Daddy P and I had visited before Monkey was born, and I could remember that you don’t actually see the moat until you’re right up close. Exploring Bodiam Castle with Monkey was going to be a great way to spend his 7th birthday, and we kept the water a secret.
There’s a large car park, cafe and toilet block as you enter the site. It’s worth noting if you’re going with kids, that these are the only toilets, and it’s a bit of a trek back from the castle if they need a pit stop. You walk through a little parkland, up to the castle itself, and of course, Monkey’s first priority was to find a stick.
It was nice to see that turning 7 was going to make no difference to his love of sticks. He chatted away to Daddy P as we followed the path, still unaware of the treat ahead.
We could see the castle from the car park but it was only as we reached the brow of the hill that the moat itself came into sight.
Monkey was so excited. I should have caught his reaction on camera, but it was so much nicer to just experience it as his Mum. He was just amazed. A real moated castle Mummy. We’d already explained to him, that although the outside of the castle was intact, the interior wasn’t. He didn’t care. It had a real moat.
It’s such a beautiful sight, even on a dreary day, and exploring Bodiam Castle with Monkey was an instant hit. There’s a small visitor area where you can watch a video presentation explaining the history of the castle. We popped in there first, I thought Monkey would get bored, but he sat, totally riveted to the spot, taking it all in.
With it being two weeks before Christmas when we were exploring Bodiam Castle, we weren’t the only visitors. Eagle Eyed Monkey spotted someone we’d seen earlier in the day on the railway!
It did make us all chuckle and it wasn’t long before Monkey was off in hot pursuit. But as we crossed the bridge to the castle entrance he was soon distracted by some other castle residents, the fish.
We talked about where the original bridge would have been in the past and looked at the ruins of the Barbican Gatehouse before walking under the medieval portcullis and into the castle grounds.
As I’ve mentioned, the interior rooms of the castle are sadly no more. But it’s still possible to climb up a couple of the towers and have some fun. Apparently I’ve now got to start calling Monkey ‘My Lord’!
There was plenty of fun to be had as we imagined what the great hall would once have looked like and thought about what might have been cooked in the kitchen.
Monkey was certainly taken by the well, as a source of drinking water in a bygone age. I even got to practice some of my newly learnt photography skills to take a photo of it that brightened it up so he could see it better on the camera. Go me!
He managed the tight spiral staircases well and we all got to enjoy the views across the Kent countryside.
There was even time to make friends with the local Knight and introduce him to Monkey’s weapon of choice – yes, a stick, obviously.
We’d had a wonderful time exploring Bodiam Castle and I had another trick up my sleeve for the following day. But I’ll save that for another day.
Have you been to Bodiam Castle? Can you recommend any other moated castles we should visit?