Christmas puddings shot at Bodiam Castle

Archer Simon Waite shoots the Christmas pudding - credit National Trust

Archer Simon Waite shoots the Christmas pudding - credit National Trust - Credit: National Trust

This winter 50 archers will descend on Bodiam Castle for the annual Christmas Pudding Clout, one of the many ancient traditions at the medieval castle.

On 5 January 2014, over 50 archers will compete on what is thought to be the medieval joust ground at Bodiam Castle. The archers will shoot at target bosses and score points. The winner takes home a wooden effigy of a Christmas pudding, a nod to the origins of the clout.

The event dates back at least 25 years when Bodiam Castle and the local archery group came up with a novel way to destroy mouldy Christmas puddings. The puddings came from a manufacturer whose decision to reduce the amount of preservatives in the festive dessert resulted in a layer of edible mould growing on the surface. Hundreds were returned and had to be destroyed. Arrow fire was selected as the chosen method. Now the group no longer shoot at real Christmas puddings, but eat them instead.

Heather Packham, visitor experience manager at Bodiam Castle comments: “Of the many traditions in Bodiam Castle’s history, this is an unusual activity which is relatively unknown. It’s become as much a part of the castle as our medieval re-enactors, jousting knights and people posing for a photograph in front of the castle”.

Inspired by this old tradition, this year visitors can join in with a trail around the castle courtyard to search for Christmas pudding ingredients in hidden chests. Once they’ve all been found, take home your trail map which includes a recipe to make your own Bodiam Castle Christmas pudding.

Christmas in the Castle runs on 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 December, from 10.30am-3.15pm. £6.50 per child, £3 for children under 18 months and £7.40 per adult (National Trust adult members free). This includes a visit to Santa in his grotto inside the castle walls, a gift for children, the trail around the courtyard and timed storytelling in the West Tower. The trail is free for those visiting Santa in his grotto, or an additional £1 for general visitors. Advance booking is recommended to visit Santa as entry is timed with limited spaces. Book by calling 01580 830196

Visitors can watch the annual Christmas Pudding Clout on 5 January between 10am-1pm at Bodiam Castle.