Great weather today. Some cloud this morning but the sun came out later in the morning and actually reached 20 degrees C before clouding over again this evening.
First stop was Bodiam Castle. On the way we passed a number of small round buildings with a cone roof and a section on top that appeared to rotate. Speaking to a local, it turns out that years ago, this area was a big hop producer and the buildings were for drying the hops. Not a lot of hops grown here now and most of the hop sheds have disappeared or been converted for other uses.
Yeah,I know, you've seen enough castles. This one was a bit different though. Built in 1385, the castle is just what you think a castle should look like. Square, a round tower at each corner, a square tower in the middle of each wall, battlements and a moat. Yes, the moat is still there and full of water. Only thing missing is all the internal walls and some battlement tops. The castle was raided and burnt out around the mid-1600s and never rebuilt. Locals threatened to pull it down for the sandstone but it was purchased privately, managed to reduce further deterioration and on the owner's death, left to the National Trust.
When you see any of the ruins it's had to imagine what it would have looked like when built. In this case, computer generated images make a a video to watch so instead of looking at a dark rough wall with open archways, you could see it with smooth clean sandstone and colourful stained glass windows. Gives you a completely different perspective. There was massive work put into landscaping the garden with lakes dug and the river diverted to provide the water and power the mill. You can still see where the lakes were but these are now just "bowls" of lawn. Plenty of beautiful Oak trees adorned with acorns at present.
One out of place feature was a World War II Pill Box situated to provide a strategic view for protection of a nearby bridge in the event of German Invasion at the time.
From Bodiam we headed to the town of Battle, the site of the battle between William the Conqueror and King Harold on 14th October 1066. Time for a history lesson. Very good audi-visual displays and the whole area of the hill on which the battle occurred is marked out with information boards and carved wooden models of soldiers of the time. The actual site at the top of the hill now has the ruins of an abbey and monastery built by then King William 30 or so years later. Within the old abbey, the place where the Altar was situated, was the actual site where King Harold died. The town is gearing up for the annual festival.
From Battle we headed for Hastings where William came ashore from France and took over Hastings before the battle. Just a drive through here before we headed west to Hailsham, Herstmonceux and Windmill Hill. According to my family historian, Herstmonceux is where my Great, Great, Great Grandfather was born and died. Went to visit him in the cemetery but it's a big one, probably 60 - 70% of the graves don't have markers and a lot of the old ones are illegible. We didn't find him.
Accommodation tonight in Windmill Hill and believe it or not, there is a windmill. The mill was built in 1814 and was a working mill until 1893. Restored between 1994 and 2007, the mill is a working mill again and open most Sundays so we couldn't take a close look.
Last night we stayed at a B&B run by a lovely Scottish lady. Check out the last couple of photos.
Tomorrow we continue on and work our way toward Stonehenge.