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The exterior of Bodiam Castle is one of the best examples of a quadrangle castle.
The interior of Bodiam Castle is mostly ruined, but has enough evidence for archaeologists to figure out the layout.
Carp live in the moat of Bodiam Castle, while ducks swim around the moat.
Currently, there's lots of work restoring the Bodiam meadows.

Bodiam Castle

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Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • National Trust property Bodiam Castle, East Sussex is a moated castle built in the 14th century in South East England.
  • Explore the stunning and well-preserved exterior, one of the best examples of its kind in England, as you cross the moat.
  • Go inside to explore the ruins of the castle, and discover the people who lived and made Bodiam Castle.
  • Look out across the glorious and idyllic countryside of East Sussex and South East England.
  • Enjoy a spot of lunch in the tea room after a long day of walking.


Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, is the archetype of a 14th-century moated castle, although the interior is sadly ruined. Due to its age, and its importance in English Heritage, the Bodiam Castle history is something you'll want to discover. One of Sussex's most fascinating castles, with a ruined interior but well-preserved exterior, this National Trust site is a must-visit for families for a history lesson with the Bodiam Castle facts you'll learn. If you're fascinated by Herstmonceux Castle, or by National Trust sites like Willington Dovecote and Stables, then we're sure Bodiam Castle will be right up your alley.

Bodiam Castle was first built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, an English knight. You might also see his name written as Dallingridge. He was originally a knight of Edward III before becoming a knight of Richard II, who permitted Sir Edward to build Bodiam Castle. The aim of the East Sussex castle was to help defend England against the French during the Hundred Years' War, with Sir Edward at the helm. Strangely, the castle has no keep but instead has various chambers and inner courts, which demonstrates a need to display as well as to defend. It was the centre of Bodiam and home to Sir Edward and his family. The Dalyngrigges line eventually became extinct, so ownership passed to the Lewknor family. Sir Thomas Lewknor supported the House of Lancaster during the War of the Roses, so the castle was besieged by Richard III, the king whose skeleton was found in a car park. There's no evidence there was ever a battle at Bodiam, so it seems to have been passed to King Richard without much resistance. The house was returned to the Lewknors when Henry VII of the House of Lancaster, father of Henry VIII, became king in 1485. The Lewknor family lived in the castle until the 16th century. By the start of the civil war in England, Bodiam Castle belonged to Lord Thanet, John Tufton. He supported the Royalists, the people who supported the Royals, and Tufton sold the castle to help pay for his fines. Eventually, it was sold at auction by MP John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller who was a slaver, making money from Jamaican plantations, in 1828. It was left as a ruin until 1829 and began to be restored by George Cubitt, and then Lord Curzon. The Castle became a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Monument and has been owned by the National Trust since 1925. The Castle has stood throughout many periods during England's history, so there are plenty of facts about Bodiam Castle to learn.

Bodiam Castle is the most complete surviving example of a quadrangular castle. There are circular towers at each of the four corners, and square towers at the centre of each wall. Just above the gate are three coats of arms; Wardeux, Dalyngrigge, and Radynden families. Dalyngrigge was Sir Edward's house, Wardeux was the family of his wife, and Radynden were relations to the Dalygrigges. Above them is a unicorn head helm, similar to the helmet Sir Edward wore. The Gatehouse has thick walls to make Bodiam Castle seem impenetrable. A crenellated parapet could conceal archers, and there are also gun loops to house hand-held canons. You might also see the Postern Tower, which would have been used for delivering goods to the castle. Guests can climb the Postern Tower due to the stunning views of the countryside of England that can be seen from the top. It's very high, so if you're scared of heights, you might want to give it a miss, but it is an incredible opportunity.

Tours are available for the interior of the castle as it is mostly in ruins. It's primarily gravelled paths, grass and paved areas with a few steep steps. However, the layout can still be figured out from inside the castle. Bodiam Castle was split into sections for the family, guests, the garrisons and the servants. There would once have been a great hall, kitchens, and similar rooms. Remains of a pantry and buttery can be found nearby, as the layout is similar to medieval houses. The kitchen would have had a considerable roasting hearth in the south wall and a second hearth in the north as well as bread and pastry ovens. The great hall would have been used for communal meals for the whole household. The Dalyngrigges would have had a stepped dais to face the room as a whole. There are plenty of other rooms you can see on a guided tour. You also might see the South West Tower, which has a strange pool in the middle. It's unknown what this pool was used for. Above the tower is more accommodation, probably for a kitchen steward, and then at the top is a dovecote, for keeping pigeons. There is also a Chapel, with an oratory above where Sir Edward and his wife would sit, believing the higher they sat, the closer they were to God.

If you get close to the stones, you might see graffiti. Marks of bankers masons and fine masons can be found on the stones. Bankers masons were less skilled masons, who worked on cutting out the stone for use, working on pieces rather than whole areas. Fine mason marks are much rarer, are only found in areas of the castle meant for those of high status; fine masons worked on detail and making sure the castle was made to a good quality. They must have done an excellent job since it's standing seven centuries later. There are also several ritual protection marks to protect the castle from witches, but there clearly weren't enough battlements, portcullises and loops. These marks are found around where entrances and windows used to be, as these were the places vulnerable to witches. There is also graffiti from early tourists to the castle from the 1850's, before the National Trust owned it. The graffiti is reasonably high quality, which suggests it was potentially not an act of vandalism like it is today.

On the banks of the moat, visitors can have a great view of the castle as a whole.

The area surrounding Bodiam has been landscaped, most likely to emphasise the castle. Originally Bodiam had extensive water features, but today only the moat survives. The moat is a roughly rectangular shape and is supplied by springs, some of which are inside the moat itself. While the moat was used as a defence, it may have been used to improve the look of the castle and make it appear larger and grander. Today, the moat is an ornamental feature, with the castle sitting roughly in the middle. There is also an island in the moat called the Octagon, which may have had a guard on it. Just south of the Octagon is the Barbican, a fortified outbuilding that protected the main Gatehouse and had its own portcullis. The castle is accessible by a bridge that goes to the south bank of the moat. Standing on the bridge, you can see the castle carp. There have been carp in the moat for most years the castle has been standing, though the current fish are not descendants of the fish from the 14th century. There are also ducks in the moat that will often come and quack at the visitors. You also might see bats around the castle at specific points of the year, as the castle is host to one of the largest bat roosts in South East England. While visiting Bodiam Castle, you may see some work going on in the surrounding lands to make Bodiam meadows, to attract local wildlife and bring the area back to what it may have looked like during the early days of Bodiam Castle. The concentration is on Castle Field and Freren Meade.

Bodiam Castle puts on several different events throughout the year. Previously they've had events like Medieval Day, Medieval Week, and Dress To Impress: Knights And Princesses. There are also seasonal events like Mother's Day and St George's Day. Father Christmas at the Castle is a popular event for the year. In the area surrounding the castle, there is also the Hop Festival Weekend, to commemorate when, until the 1970s, 4,000 hop pickers would arrive by steam train to spend several weeks near Bodiam. During the weekend, there's music, dancing, a recreated hop garden and hopper’s hut, train rides and more.

Are you feeling hungry after a day of exploring Bodiam Castle? Luckily, there are two delicious places to try at Bodiam Castle. The Wharf Tea Room and the Castle View Cafe are both open at the weekend, and if the weather is good, the Castle View Café is open for takeaways. During wet weather, the Wharf tea room opens with limited seating. There are plenty of places to eat nearby, especially pubs. The Castle Inn does classic British pub food, as does The White Dog Inn. Yummy Fudge does tasty fudge street food which they hand-make, The Curlew Restaurant does delicious European themed food with some locally sourced ingredients, and The Hub is a charming cafe.

Are you looking for East Sussex hotels near to the castle? The White Dog Inn is also a hotel. There's also The White Hart, The Royal Oak, and The Queen's Inn which is perfect for staying in if you want to be nearby. You also might enjoy discovering more about the historic village of Robertsbridge which Bodiam Castle sits in. The village is thought to date back to 1176 and has a population of only 2,641 people.

What to know before you go

  • The Bodiam Castle opening times are typically 10.30am to 4pm, but this may change seasonally. Other parts of the Castle might have different opening times.
  • Entrance to the grounds is part of the ticket price.
  • There are gravel paths throughout the site, with some slopes and uneven terrain, meaning that wheelchairs might struggle.
  • There's no wheelchair access to the towers, as they all are only accessible by a single staircase.
  • The accessible toilet is in the central car park next to the tea-room. This is also where the baby-changing facilities and non-accessible toilets are.
  • Dogs on short leads are welcome in the castle grounds.

Getting there

  • By car, Bodiam Castle is 1.5 miles east, off B2244, and 3 miles south of Hawkhurst. The Castle is 66.6 miles from London. Look out for The Curlew restaurant on the crossroads on the opposite turning to Bodiam. It's 3 miles east of A21 at the southern end of Hurst Green village, midway between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings. The car park is only free for National Trust members; any other visitors will have to pay.
  • By train, there is a seasonal steam railway from Tenterden town to Bodiam station. The two mainline stations are Robertsbridge and Battle. For London, there is also London Bridge to Etchingham. There are no public transport links from these stations, so you may need to book a taxi. Battle has a taxi rank, but Robertsbridge and Etchingham will require pre-booked taxis.
  • From Monday to Saturday you can get the 349 Stagecoach from Hastings Train Station to Hawkhurst, which stops opposite the central car park entrance.
  • On foot, the Sussex Border Path between Hawkhurst and Ewhurst Green goes through the grounds of the castle.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines

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The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest is a renowned charity and membership organisation in England, Northern Ireland and Wales that offers natural preservation for the most beloved heritage locations in the UK, including houses, buildings, coastlines, gardens and parks. With over 500 sites and attractions under their conservation and an ever-increasing 5.6 million members, the Trust is one of the largest wilderness and heritage protectors in the world and is now celebrating its 125th anniversary year since being founded in 1895.

With a National Trust membership, easily joinable via their website with family and lifetime options, you can enjoy free entry to all of their gardens, parklands and National Trust properties including the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, Knole in Kent and hundreds more. Partly owned by H.R.H the Prince of Wales, the National Trust aims to protect, preserve and develop the most treasured locations and outstanding areas of nature in the UK so that they can be enjoyed by visitors from across the world.

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