Planning a trip to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex? Use this guide to visiting to help you plan your day, learn some interesting castle facts and get tips on things to do nearby.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, for qualifying purchases. More info: disclosure.
Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, 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 towers riddled with arrow slits.
Set in rural countryside near the River Rother Bodiam is one of the most photographed castles in England. Here’s how to enjoy a day out at beautiful Bodiam Castle, England and 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. 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
The castle, which was built in 1635, is almost 640 years old
Inside Bodiam Castle
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.
Although there’s not much left inside the castle walls you can climb the stone winding staircases which lead up to the battlements. Here you’ll find gorgeous views out over the East Sussex countryside and down to the castle courtyard below.
Regimented vines stretch out in the distance and in the other 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 along to the station near to the castle’s entrance.
Looking for a weekend with a difference? Read our article on Quirky places to stay in East Sussex
Kid’s Activities at Bodiam Castle
Although there’s not much structurally left inside the castle the National Trust put on many activities for children in the grounds. 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 Herstmonceux Castle near Pevensey, East Sussex
During my visit people in medieval costume were busying themselves with their crafts. 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
The History of Bodiam Castle
Bodiam castle was built between 1385 and 1388 by Sir Edward Dallingridge (aka Dalyngrigge or Dalyngridge) a former knight of King Edward III, who came from a family of local land owners.
Dallingridge built Bodiam to help defend against the French invasion during the Hundred Years War. 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 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.
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 Lewknors, 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 began restorations. 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
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.
Visiting Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle Ticket Prices
Entry costs from £11.00 for adults and £5.50 for children.
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 £27.50 or family with one adult is £16.50.
Under-fives go free as do all National Trust members. Car parking is £4 or free for NT members.
Bodiam Castle Opening Hours
The 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 shop on-site.
Getting to Bodiam
Where is Bodiam Castle?
Bodiam Castle is near Robertsbridge in East Sussex. For navigation purposes the postcode is TN32 5UA
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.
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
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.
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.
Things to do near Bodiam Castle
Bodiam is set in the heart of East Sussex countryside which means there are loads of cool things to do nearby in beautiful locations.
Kent and East Sussex steam 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.
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 visiting Battle Abbey.
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.
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.