The 2016 Conservation Management Plan
In 2015-16, the National Trust commissioned a new Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property. This was researched and written by Paul Drury and his team, Drury McPherson Partnership http://www.dmpartnership.com/. The key research elements of the CMP can be found via the links below:
Brief Comments by Matthew Johnson on the 2016 CMP
The research to be found in the 2016 CMP is exceptionally rich and thorough; it is a valuable piece of scholarship which we are delighted to be able to disseminate through our website. The interpretations of the CMP intersect with the view of Bodiam presented in our published book in many different and fruitful ways. The final version of the CMP came out very late in the editing process for the book, but wherever possible, our book has included observations derived from the CMP in its text, noting scholarly agreement and a few respectful differences where relevant.
There are a large number of areas where the CMP offers particularly new and important insights into the history of Bodiam. What follows is a subjective and selective list – there are innumerable observations and insights in the 192 pages plus appendices, but the elements that follow represent particular highlights and/or themes that are important to an understanding of Bodiam in its context for present and future scholars.
First, the early medieval history of the site, specifically the evolution of the manor in its local/regional context. Drury et al. bring together a topographical analysis of Bodiam parish and its neighbours with a detailed consideration of documentary material (the phase maps in Appendix F are particularly valuable). There is much ongoing discussion about the early medieval development of manors and settlement across the Sussex and Kentish Weald as a whole – reassessing how much ‘colonization’ there really was, processes of sub-manorialization – and this detailed examination of Bodiam parish and the neighbouring settlement of Ewhurst Green represents important new scholarship in this context.
Second, Drury et al. present important information on the pre-1380s landscape (including successive changes in the course of the Rother) and the building of Bodiam. They reconstruct the specific outlines of the park (distant from the castle, in the south west corner of the manor) and the demesne lands to the north of the castle, and note anomalies in the shape of the moat which may be clues to use of the site in the decades prior to 1380. Perhaps most importantly, Drury et al have identified the fragmentary traces of an earlier stone building encased within the eastern range of the castle, though how much earlier is unclear.
Third, Drury et al have elucidated the later history of Court Lodge. Our work showed how this site had been the subject of extensive postmedieval disturbance; Drury et al identify documentary evidence for the extensive development and appearance of this site in the later 17th century.