History: First Year Bodiam Castle Enrichment Afternoon

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Since the Spring, a large number of First Year students have been involved in extension activities based upon their academic interests and talents.

Each department has been given just one request: to approach their subject in ways that are not possible during the normal run of lessons. For the Historians, this meant visiting one of East Sussex's most notable historical sites, and starting to think like a curator.

'Bodiam Castle is one of the most famous, most photogenic and most visited castles in Britain. One look at it and it is easy to see why: it is what you might call a pin-up castle.

A stunning setting in the middle of a mirror - like moat, especially magical on cold mornings when the mist hangs around the walls. Some castles can look tough, others can look homely, but few can manage both at the same time. Bodiam can, but then Bodiam has star quality - it's a true celebrity'.

M. Morris, Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain (Windmill Books: London, 2003), p. 142.

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Historical sites have many different stories to tell, and being built in 1385 - Bodiam Castle is certainly one of them. However, it is the role of the curator to decide which of these stories should be told and how. The aim of the enrichment  afternoon was to challenge the student's perceptions of this historical site and see if they are able to make visitors see it in a different way.

The afternoon was led by Dr Parker, and using the ideas that she developed with the writing of her PhD, the pupils were told 'you will become the curator. You will be required to consider the different ways that stories about Bodiam Castle can be told and come up with your own plans for making it an exciting visitor destination'.

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After visiting the Castle, pupils were asked to come up with a plan for how they could interpret the Castle, 'My group came up with ideas like peddle-o's on the moat, and several plays within the castle. It was a wonderful time which I enjoyed very much.'

Jay Adebisi-Stud

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'The trip to Bodiam was thoroughly enriching, as promised. I found the castle to be dripping with history, and I really enjoyed trying to imagine what life must have been like for those who lived in the castle in medieval times. The tasks we were set were provocative and useful, it really made you think about the line between accuracy and enjoyment when showing information at a historical site'.

Max Hunter - Deis

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'We went to visit Bodiam castle, I could see that it was extremely old from the moment that I saw it. There were ruins of huge great halls that had eroded away and twisting staircases winding up the turrets. I enjoyed finding out about lots of different things such as the dungeon that fell through a trapdoor and all the small rooms leading off to different areas of the castle'.

Harry Cannon - Dicker 

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