Surrounded by a moat, the 14th-century Bodiam Castle looks particularly impressive from the outside even though its interior is in ruins.
The castle was built in 1385 for Sir Edward Dalyngrigge to defend against French invasion during the Hundred Years War. However, it is unusual for a defensive castle to be built so far from the coastline.
The castle was the centre of the manor of Bodiam and was home to the Dalyngrigge family before passing to the Lewknor family who owned the castle up until the 16th century. It is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.
What to see at Bodiam Castle
From the outside, it is a particularly impressive looking castle as it is surrounded by a moat which increases its aesthetic appeal and creates the illusion of appearing larger than it actually is. It has been described as one of the best examples of using landscaping to emphasis a castle.
The castle is reached by crossing a bridge over the moat and entering through the three-storey-high gatehouse.
The interior of Bodiam Castle is mostly in ruins but enough survives to give an idea of the internal layout of the castle. There are also some surviving medieval architectural features such as murder holes in the ceiling of the passage through the gatehouse.
There is an area in Castle Cottage with an exhibition about the castle and there is a small cinema in the northeast tower where you can watch a short film about the history of Bodiam Castle.
Visitors can also climb the narrow stone spiral staircase up to the battlements where you are rewarded with lovely views of the castle interior and the surrounding countryside, which includes views of the River Rother valley.
Visiting Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle is located in the small village of Bodiam. The easiest way to get here is by public transport is by Stagecoach bus route 349, which runs every two hours between Hastings and Hawkhurst. The bus stops right near the main entrance.
You can also get here via heritage steam trains operated by the Kent and East Sussex Railway, which runs from Tenterden in Kent. This is a popular option that is an enjoyable way to get here, however, you first need to get to Tenterden, which has direct bus connections with Ashford, Hastings, Maidstone and Rye. Bodiam railway station is south of the village but only a six-minute walk from the main entrance to the castle complex.
Car parking is available for £4 (free for National Trust members).
The castle is operated by the National Trust and National Trust members can visit free of charge.
There is a tea room and a cafe on site, which both serve food and drinks and there are also picnic tables outside the tea room where you can eat your own food. Alternatively, you can get something to eat and drink at the Castle Inn pub across the road from the main entrance.
Although an effort is made to cater to visitors with reduced mobility, the nature of the 14th-century building means that it is not fully wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair users are not able to visit the tower and some gravel paths on the site may be difficult to get around by wheelchair and there are steps to some rooms inside the castle. However, there is wheelchair access to the exhibition area, the room where the “History of Bodiam” film is shown as well as the castle courtyard, the tea room, the gift shop and cafe.