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A guide to visiting Bodiam Castle in East Sussex

Planning a trip to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex? Use this guide to visiting to help you plan your day, learn some interesting Bodiam castle facts and get tips on the best things to do nearby.

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex with the old postern gate to the left

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Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge in southeast England, is one of the most beautiful castles in Sussex and the stuff of fairytales. The magnificent medieval castle sits within a mirror-like moat protected by a drawbridge and four castellated main towers riddled with arrow slits.

Set in rural countryside near the River Rother, Bodiam is one of the most picturesque castles in England. Here’s how to enjoy a day out at beautiful Bodiam Castle, England with some ideas on things to do nearby. But first some fun facts about Bodiam Castle…

Facts about Bodiam Castle

When you arrive you can take a free guided tour of the castle which will last from 30-40 minutes. It’s a great way of learning interesting snippets of castle info and about the history and construction of the castle.

Bodiam Castle was built as a family home with defences, think main gatehouse and large moat. Sir Dallingridge must have upset a few people.

The 28 guarderobes (toilets) used to empty directly into the moat. Ugh…

More than 175,000 people visit the castle every year, luckily not all on the same day

Construction of Bodiam Castle started around 1385, which makes it almost 640 years old

Inside Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
Looking down into the great hall Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Although Bodiam Castle’s interior is mainly in ruin there’s still a lot to see and do at the site.

On arrival a short film introduces the castle conveying its history, how it was built, and how the castle was used from the Saxon era to the present day. It sets the scene nicely and is a good alternative if the guided tour is full.

Explore the remains of the castle kitchens where huge fireplaces and ovens once helped feed the castle occupants.

Bodiam Castle main entrance

Inside the high walls of the castle you can climb the stone winding staircases which lead up to the battlements and top of the castle’s corner towers. Here you’ll find a viewing platform with gorgeous views out over the East Sussex countryside and down to the castle courtyard below.

Regimented vines from Seddlescombe Organic Vineyard stretch out in the distance. In another direction you’ll see the Kent and Sussex Railway. If you’re lucky one of the Kent and East Sussex steam trains will come chugging through the East Sussex countryside.

Kent and East Sussex steam railway

Looking for a weekend with a difference? Read our article on Quirky places to stay in East Sussex

Bodiam Castle Grounds

From the outside the castle walls you can see the moat with reflections of the castle which would have made it look larger than it is and more intimidating to attackers.

Medieval Bridge

The medieval bridge to the castle originally joined the castle from the west bank of the moat. It was made of stone and made a hard right turn before reaching the main gatehouse. This would have made the castle easier to defend.

Access since the 18th century has been via the wooden bridge which crosses the moat to the north of the castle.

The Gatehouse

Crossing the bridge, the remains of the Barbican can be seen. This was a small defensive building in front of the Gatehouse to give added protection to the entrance. The portcullis itself is original, and one of only a few in Britain to survive from those times.

The Gatehouse is home to one of the largest roosts of Daubenton bats in the country along with a colony of Natterer bats.

The Postern Tower

The postern tower (centre) Bodiam Castle

At the back of the castle you’ll see the remains of the Postern, a secondary gate. There would, at one time, have been a bridge leading to the Postern. Look out for three heraldic shields on the tower.

Kid’s Activities at Bodiam Castle

Although there’s not much structurally left of the interior of the castle the National Trust put on many activities for children in the grounds which make up for this.

There are special events during school holidays with archery lessons and falconry walks (additional charges apply for both) as well as the chance to find out about medieval warfare. Perfect for your little knights and princesses.

This summer kids can join Sir Edward’s army at one of the castle’s boot camp training sessions. There are also guided walks. More information on Bodiam Castle’s summer activities here.

Like castles? Read about another moated castle, Herstmonceux Castle near Pevensey, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
Pottery stall at Bodiam Castle

During my visit people in medieval costume were busying themselves with their crafts in the castle grounds. Candle-makers were making honeycomb candles, wood carvers whittled away and a very entertaining potter gave us the low-down on a potter’s life in a medieval village.

The craftspeople are more than happy to chat about their wares and how they’re made. They’re generally in character and are funny and entertaining and there can be opportunities to have a go at some of the crafts yourself.

Read more: What to see and do in Hastings, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
Knight’s equipment stall at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

The History of Bodiam Castle

Bodiam castle has a rich history. The medieval castle was built between 1385 and 1388 by Sir Edward Dallingridge (aka Sir Edward Dalyngrigge or Dalyngridge) a former knight of King Edward III, who came from a family of local land owners.

Dallingridge and his wife Elizabeth Wardedieu lived in unsettled times with the Black Death and the Wars of the Roses causing unrest. They needed a private residence that served as a defensive structure and also looked good. The castle was also a status symbol.

Dallingridge built Bodiam to help defend against the French invasion during the Hundred Years War. The family needed a private residence that also served as a defensive structure. He was clever and built the castle to be defended from both inside and out.

Within the walls he built a self-contained retainer’s hall with both entrances and three of the four towers in direct control from his ‘safe’ area.

From the outside a series of defences had to be overcome before gaining access to the castle. You’d need to dodge the arrows firing out of the arrow slits, cross the moat, negotiate a drawbridge and when you finally got to the portcullis and main entrance you’d be ambushed by boiling oil and water poured from ‘murder holes’ in the gatehouse. Nice welcome.

This Englishman’s castle was also a home and as well as affording protection for the Dallingridge family it was also built for comfort. There were kitchens, a chapel, cloisters, a well, gun room, lady’s cloister and servants quarters. Evidence of some of these are still visible today.

The defences held up for around 100 years until Bodiam was besieged by Richard III in 1484.

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
The picturesque setting of Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Who owns Bodiam Castle?

The castle was passed down and sideways through various family members until the line came to a halt in 1470. Bodiam then passed to the nearest living relatives, the Lewknor family, and it remained in their ownership until the 16th century. In 1643 the Parliamentarians laid siege and Cromwell commanded that Bodiam be dismantled.

The castle was left to crumble until the Marquis of Curzon acquired it in 1917 and restoration work began. On his death in 1925 he bequeathed the castle to the National Trust who still own it today.

I totally agree with his quote about Bodiam Castle…

“So rare a treasure as Bodiam Castle should neither be lost to our country nor desecrated by irreverent hands.” Lord Curzon

Read more: A weekend break in Rye, East Sussex

Bodiam Castle East Sussex
Bodiam Castle’s round towers, high external walls and broad moat

Looking for places to stay near Bodiam Castle – Check rates and availability

Parish Church of St Giles

Just up the hill from the castle is St Giles church where there is a series of medieval brasses on display including a knight in armour who could possibly be Sir Edward himself.

Visiting Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle Ticket Prices

Entry costs from £10 – £13 for adults and £5 – £6.50 for children depending on low or high season.

There are discounts for group bookings (15 people or over)

Family tickets (2 adults and up to 3 children 5-17 years old) are from £25 – £32 or family with one adult is £15 – £19.50.

Under-fives go free as do all National Trust members. Car parking is £4 or free for NT members.

Bodiam Castle Opening Hours

Bodiam Castle is open from 11.00am to 5pm throughout the year (Winter until 4pm) – check the castle website for precise details. The car park opens at 9.45am.

The tea room and toilets (with baby changing) are by the car park entrance. There are no other toilet facilities inside the castle so you’ll have to go back out to use the facilities (about a five-minute walk).

Castle View Coffee Shop is open during the main school holidays for hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, snacks and ice creams. These can be a little pricey so you may want to bring your own picnic. There are a number of picnic tables around the site.

There is a National Trust gift shop on-site.

Getting to Bodiam

Where is Bodiam Castle?

Bodiam Castle is a popular tourist destination near Robertsbridge in East Sussex. For navigation purposes the postcode is TN32 5UA

By Boat

From Newenden, near Rye, in East Sussex you can arrive by boat. Take the Dannie Lee, a 24-seat ferry, through the peaceful High Weald down the Rother River to the castle. For costs and timings check the Bodiam Boating Station website. (April to September) from Newenden Bridge, Newenden village on A28. Booking advisable.

By Train

Nearby mainline railway stations are at Robertsbridge (5 miles) and Battle (10 miles, London Charing Cross to Hastings route). There are no public transport links from mainline railway stations, only private taxis.

There’s no taxi rank at Robertsbridge so you’ll need to pre-book a cab. There is a taxi rank at Battle.

By Steam Train

Not many medieval castles have a stream train close by. Bodiam steam train ride is magical way to arrive at the castle. Seasonal steam train journeys go from Tenterden town to Bodiam station: Operated by Kent & East Sussex Railway. Or park up at Northiam and travel by steam to Bodiam. Booking advisable. Downloadable PDF of times and fares here.

By Road

If you’re heading from London take the A21 from the M25. 1.5 miles (2.2km) east, off B2244, 3 miles (5.6km) south of Hawkhurst. Look out for The Curlew restaurant on crossroads opposite turning to Bodiam. 3 miles (5.6km) east of A21 at southern end of Hurst Green village, midway between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings.

There is a car park next to the castle but as Bodiam is a popular tourist attraction you may find it gets busy in peak times. Parking for non National Trust members is £4 per day.

By Bus

The number 349 Stagecoach bus from Hastings train station to Hawkhurst, stops opposite Bodiam Castle car park entrance on the main Bodiam Road. This service operates Monday to Saturday with a reduced Sunday service. See timetable here.

If you like castles you might like to read about another moated castle, Herstmonceux Castle, or our post about all 12 Castles in Sussex.

Things to do near Bodiam Castle

Bodiam is set in the heart of East Sussex countryside which means there are loads of interesting things to do nearby in beautiful locations.

Kent and East Sussex steam railway

Steam train on the Kent and East Sussex Railway

Take a steam train ride to nearby Tenterden or Northiam and back. The train station is right next to the castle and adds a wonderful aspect to your day at Bodiam.

It’s operated by Kent & East Sussex Railway. You could park up at Northiam and travel by steam to Bodiam. Booking is advisable. Downloadable PDF of times and fares here.

Bodiam Boating Station

If you want to get out on the water, the river Rother in this case, then head to  Bodiam Boating Station for boat cruises, kayak and paddleboard hire. The river is very still so it’s great for SUP boarding.

Lime Wharf Cafe is a cool Scandi style cafe serving up tasty food. They serve breakfasts, coffee and pastries. Lunches range from homemade burgers to salads with vegan & gluten free options.

Head to the Hub

The Hub is another nearby cafe made from recycled, upcycled and reclaimed items. There’s a range of excellent breakfasts and lunches to choose from.

Book wellness classes, hire kayaks and SUPs and there are archery lessons too.

Battle and Battle Abbey

The town of Battle, home of famous Battle Abbey, is a 20-minute drive from Bodiam Castle. If you’re thinking of visiting the Abbey then you’ll want to check out our post about what to see and do on a day trip to Battle.


Hastings old town is a fun place to visit with loads of activities for children. The town also has some castle ruins of its own. Read our guide on things to do in Hastings Old Town for ideas.

Where to stay near Bodiam Castle

There are a number of places to stay near Bodiam Castle.

The White Dog Inn is 2.5 km away in the village of Ewhurst Green. The traditional free house  is a family run pub and has a pub garden with views of the castle and a good restaurant.

Check rates and availability for the White Dog Inn

Bodiam Camping – For something slightly different you could stay in a White Dog tipi. Constructed from solid wooden poles and wrapped in a heavy duty canvas for a dry comfortable night you’ll wake up to beautiful Sussex countryside views.

>>> Click here for more places to stay near Bodiam Castle

More castles in Sussex…

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What to expect from a visit to Medievel Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, UK

lauri hoffman

Thursday 4th of January 2018

Hi. We are staying in southend on sea with a friend. We want to visit Bodiam castle. We are wondering if there are any quintessential English villages we can stop at en route to the castle. We are from South Africa and would really like to see a charming village with end short driving distance from Southend.


Thursday 4th of January 2018

Hi Lauri, I really don't know that area at all, would your friends have any ideas as they probably know the area near to Southend better? Hope you enjoy your stay in the UK and your visit to Bodiam castle - the steam train ride is worth doing too if you've got time. The station's just a 5 minute walk from the castle car park.

Sara @ Travel Continuum

Saturday 19th of August 2017

You've awakened a long-dormant interest in visiting castles - I used to a LOT of them many years ago - we called it '3-dot touring' after the map symbol of 3 dots in a triangle, designating 'ancient ruins'. Great times. I love the view over the courtyard - you can squint and imagine the other tourists to be the occupants of yesteryear!


Sunday 20th of August 2017

We actually went back yesterday and did the train journey from Bodiam to Tenterden - such a lovely way to travel. We didn't go into the castle this time but it was great to see it from the train - so stately. I love the idea of '3 dot touring'!

Anna Parker

Thursday 17th of August 2017

It's beautiful, I love the moat, it just makes everything look even grander - I hardly noticed it was a ruin! Would love to visit


Thursday 17th of August 2017

It's still interesting to see inside and climb the battlements for the view despite there not being too much left in there. From the outside it's a stunning castle - hope you get to visit soon.


Wednesday 16th of August 2017

Such a gorgeous place! Love the way that the castle is reflected in the moat. Definitely one to add to the list to see when I'm next down in Sussex.


Thursday 17th of August 2017

It's definitely a fairytale castle - I love that you can get there by steam train or boat and make a real day of it. You weren't too far from it when you visited Rye

Kathryn Burrington

Tuesday 15th of August 2017

Bodiam is very special, in part because of the huge moat around it, and also arriving by steam train is great fun. I do love Amberley and Arundel too, all for completely different reasons (the food and the events, respectively!).


Tuesday 15th of August 2017

They're all very different to look at too. I've still not been to Arundel and I'm looking forward to visiting Amberley for a very special event soon!