• The Gatehouse.
  • The approach to Bodiam Castle is an impressive one and one which is notable because of the heavy defence provided by the Gatehouse and the Barbican. There were two drawbridges connecting a long bridge across the moat to the castle structure in the centre. The Barbican building, which stands just outside the Gatehouse, itself had a portcullis protecting two gates before a final drawbridge took you to the Gatehouse.(photo)
    The Gatehouse is built on three levels and contains several rooms. The crenellations and machicolations (gaps in the floor above, through which objects could be hurled at attackers) along the rooftop, together with gun-loops built in to the walls, helped to defend the exterior of the Castle's main approach. However, as you first enter the Gatehouse, make sure you look up to the ceiling. The ceiling is vaulted and built into the bosses, where the ribs cross, are circular holes called meurtrieres ('murder holes'). Similar to machicolations, these would have been used to throw down caustic slaked lime, boiling liquids (such as tar or water) or other missiles upon invaders. You will also notice the positions for the second and third portcullis that would keep Bodiam secure if under attack.
    The ground floor rooms of the Gatehouse would have been Guard Chambers. These had high ceilings, although there would probably have been a lower ceiling acting as a kind of shelf for storage. There are gun-loops in these two rooms, to defend the approach to the Gatehouse and these are characterised by their upside-down key-hole appearance. The slit provided visibility for sighting, while the hole (oillet) gave room for the gun itself. Even the guard-robes leading from these two Guard Chambers have gun-loops!
    In the first and Second floor rooms, you will find examples of Bodiam's fire places and garderobes (toilet). Imagine what it must have been like living in Bodiam and compare these facilities with the ones we enjoy today.