Imagine October 1066 and King Harold’s Army on their way to fight the battle, against Duke William of Normandy, that would become known as the Battle of Hastings.
In front of the Castle Inn stretched what was left of the Roman causeway that crossed the great tidal Appledore Estuary that seemed to spread as far as the eye could see.
Perhaps there was a shimmer on this inland sea and an early morning mist rising into the trees as the sun began to rise in the sky. It was a wild and desolate place and no doubt a strong breeze was already pulling at the water as men and horses prepared for the final few miles to Caldbec Hill. South of the causeway, the old Roman road drew the eyes up the hill between the trees of the forest, an arrow pointing towards the imminent battle.
Occasionally, after heavy rain, water can still reclaim this land and we can imagine being back in Saxon times.
The army had arrived the night before but sadly there was no Castle Inn for a bit of ‘dutch courage’ – imagine the order, 6000 pints of cider and who wants fish and chips?
Formerly known as the Red Lion, it was rebuilt and renamed in 1885 but its roots go back to the 15th century when merchants and tradesmen would have come on business to the castle. Later, it provided accommodation for visitors to the romantic Castle ruins and for the barges on the River Rother and today, it lies on the path of both 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House.
Arthur Mee wrote in 1936:
‘It is a picturesque brick and tile hung pub with a cosy tap room warmed by an open hearth with andirons upon which logs burned in winter and around which were high backed settles’.
On a July afternoon, Bodiam Castle is busy with visitors and the Castle Inn provides an opportunity to relax. The beer garden is a relief after the walk from Sissinghurst, with views south over the flood plain and in the summer’s haze, you can almost imagine that shimmer of water.
Today, The Castle Inn welcomes you with a range of well-kept Shepherd Neame beers and a good selection of food.
It is a good end of walk pub.
The Stagecoach bus stop for the 349 to Hastings or to Hawkhurst is just by the gate. They run every two hours either way but do check times as the last bus is between 5pm and 6pm and the Sunday service is limited.