VISIT  BODIAM  CASTLE  WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP

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Adults: £11
Children: £5.50
Families (2 adults): £27.50
Families (1 adult): £16.50

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Visiting Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is a splendid fortress erected in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, former knight of Edward III and important political figure. The picturesque castle sits in Robertsbridge, East Sussex. To explore this historic castle and its magnificent grounds, plan your trip to Bodiam Castle by visiting the National Trust website.

Parking

  • A small gravel car park is situated on the Bodiam Castle site.
  • Five accessible parking spaces are available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Parking is free for National Trust members.
  • Non-members must pay a parking fee of £4 per vehicle.
  • Payments are accepted on-site using cash or via a mobile-pay app.
  • The car park opens 15 minutes before the castle’s opening time.

 

Price

  • National Trust Members: Free
  • Children 5 and Under: Free
  • Adults: £11
  • Children (Ages 5-17): £5.50
  • Family (1 Adult, 3 Children):  £16.50
  • Family (2 Adults, 3 Children): £27.50

 

Opening

Bodiam Castle is open year-round, though opening hours may vary by day and season. Additionally, hours may change in accordance with special events, and partial openings may limit access to areas of the castle on certain dates. Check the National Trust calendar before your visit for the exact hours of operation. 

 

Castle Site

Summer (Feb to Sept)

Winter (Oct to Feb)

Bodiam Castle & Grounds

10 am-5 pm

10 am-4 pm

Riverside Book Shop

10 am-5:30 pm

10 am-4:30 pm

Wharf Tea Room

10 am-5 pm

10 am-4 pm

Castle View Cafe

10 am-5 pm

Closed

 

Visitors are not required to book in advance. Last admission is granted 30 minutes before the listed closing time.

Location and Access

Bodiam Castle is situated near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, approximately 4.8 kilometres (3 mi) south of Hawkhurst, and 16 kilometres (10 mi) from Rye.

From Hawkhurst, take A229 to B2244 for about 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi) and follow the signs for Bodiam Castle. From Rye, use the A259 for 4.8 kilometres (3 mi) heading towards Battle. Take the Bodiam Castle exit.

Know Before You Go

 

  • Climbing the towers requires ascending steep spiral staircases. Therefore, the towers are not handicap-accessible, as there is no lift. However, the castle courtyard, Wharf Tea Room, and shops are located at ground level, accessed via a gravel path or paved walkway.

 

  • Accessible toilets are located in the car park. Toilets include baby-changing tables. During the summer, portable bathrooms are available for use across from the castle.

 

  • The Visitor Centre offers wheelchair loans. If you’re in need of a wheelchair to move around the site, ask staff within the Visitor Centre.

 

  • Transportation services may be available. Some volunteers provide transportation services from the Visitor Centre to the castle. Those looking to utilise this service should reach out to the site ahead of time to determine availability.


  • Food options include the Wharf Tea Room and the Castle View Café. The Wharf Tea Room is open year-round, while the Castle View Café is open seasonally. Both facilities serve drinks, snacks, and light meal options.

 

  • Feel free to bring Fido. Dogs on leads are welcome on the castle grounds and within the Castle View Café. No pets are permitted inside the castle, though assistance dogs are welcome throughout the site.


  • Be wary of on-site hazards. There are some areas of sloping ground and uneven terrain.

 

Bodiam Castle Events

The National Trust hosts annual events at Bodiam Castle, including holiday celebrations, wildlife observation, storytelling, and crafts.

During the spring, the Bodiam Castle grounds are littered with easter eggs for the area’s famous easter egg hunt. The site is also home to a summer Mediaeval Fair, which includes mini jousting, sandcastle building, and archery. In the fall, there are Halloween celebrations and storytelling. Finally, Christmas events are held during the winter.

Places To Stay Nearby

Oastbrook Vineyard

3.7 km (2.3 mi) east

  • Individual detached accommodations with private entrances and free WiFi
  • Accommodations include a fully-equipped kitchen with appliances, dining space, a television, and tea and coffee facilities
  • Private bathroom with a hot tub and hairdryer
  • Lake views are availabl
Book

The Queen’s Inn

6.9 km (4.3 mi) north

 

  • On-site restaurant and bar
  • Rooms include a TV, seating area, wardrobe, and tea and coffee facilities
  • En-suite bathroom includes a hairdryer, bathrobes, and complimentary toiletries
  • Conveniently located near Pashley Manor Gardens
Book

The Brickwall Hotel & Restaurant

8 km (5 mi) south

  • On-site restaurant serving traditional British cuisine
  • Lounge bar serves snacks and beverages
  • Rooms include a TV, tea and coffee facilities, and a private bathroom
  • Guest lounge available for use
  • Outdoor gardens and a sun terrace
Book

History of Bodiam Castle 

Bodiam Castle was erected by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385. It stayed in the Dalyngrigge family for nearly a century before passing to the Lewknors. King Richard III besieged the castle in 1483, though it shows no signs of damage. The castle has been restored many times, and went through several owners before being donated to the National Trust.

Time Line


  • 1385 - (Castle Constructed)

Sir Edward Dalyngrigge built Bodiam Castle. It would remain in the Dalyngrigge family from its construction until 1470.

  • 1470 - (Castle Passes to Lewknor Family)

Upon the death of the last male Dalyngrigge heir (Richard Dallingrigge), Phillippe Dallingridge was next in succession. However, since she had wed Thomas Lewknor, the site passed into the hands of the Lewknor family by marriage.

  • 1483 - (Richard III Orders Castle Besieging)

During the Wars of the Roses, Sir Thomas Lewknor found himself in support of the House of Lancaster. This greatly bothered King Richard III, who ordered the besieging of Bodiam Castle during his reign. Though it is unknown whether the siege actually occurred, Bodiam Castle was surrendered. The castle suffered no damage during this time, so it’s believed it wasn’t attacked at all.

  • 1485 - (Castle Returned to the Lewknors)

After Richard III’s reign, Henry VII would later become king. During King Henry VII’s reign, ownership of Bodiam Castle was given back to the Lewknor family.

  • 1588 (Castle Sold)

John Levett of Salehurst purchased Bodiam Castle. However, his later financial problems led him to sell half of his interest in the fortress and various other estates. Upon the selling of these lands, the Levett family were no longer considered powerful landowners.

  • 1623 - (Earl of Thanet Purchases Bodiam Castle)

Estates of Bodiam were purchased by Sir Nicholas Tufton, later Earl of Thanet.

  • 1631-1641 (Castle Sold To Pay Debts)

Upon Sir Nicholas Tufton’s death, his heir, John Tufton, 2nd Earl of Thanet, inherited his estates, including Bodiam Castle. John Tufton would later sell the castle to pay off his debts to Parliament. Upon its sale, the castle was dismantled.

  • 1722 (The Webster Family)

Over 80 years after the dismantling of Bodiam Castle, Sir Thomas Webster purchased the fortress. The castle would pass through the Webster family for over a century.

  • 1829 (Castle Renovations)

John “Mad Jack” Fuller purchased Bodiam Castle from Sir Godfrey Webster. He began repairing and restoring the site and added new gates.

  • 1849 (Continued Renovations)

George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe, bought Bodiam Castle and continued carrying out restoration work.

  • 1916 (Excavations)

Lord Curzon purchased the castle upon George Cubitt’s passing. During this time, the moat was drained and excavations were undertaken. Artefacts discovered during excavations were placed in an on-site museum built under Lord Curzon.

  • 1925 to Present (National Trust)

Lord Curzon was dedicated to restoring Bodiam Castle, and upon his death, had the fortress donated to the National Trust. Curzon’s restoration work would continue at the hands of the trust, and remains under its ownership today.

Bodiam Castle Occupants

  • 1385: Sir Edward Dalyngrigge constructed the fortress. The castle passed through the hands of his descendants for decades, including John Dalyngrigge, Alice Dalyngrigge, and Richard Dallingrigge.
  • 1395: John Dalyngrigge occupied the castle upon Sir Edward’s passing.
  • 1408: Alice Dalyngrigge retained ownership of Bodiam Castle upon her husband’s (John Dalyngrigge) death. John’s widow owned the castle until she died in 1442.
  • 1442: Richard Dallingrigge inherited the castle after Alice Dalyngrigge’s passing.
  • 1470: Sir Thomas Lewknor inherited the castle by marriage to Phillipee Dallingridge.
  • 1483: King Richard III besieged the castle when he was betrayed by Thomas Lewknor during the Wars of the Roses. However, Bodiam Castle was returned to the Lewknors two years later, where it would remain until 1588.
  • 1588: John Levett of Salehurst purchased Bodiam Castle. He would later be forced to sell his estates to pay off his debts.
  • 1623: Sir Nicholas Tufton, future Earl of Thanet, bought the Bodiam estates.
  • 1631: John Tufton, 2nd Earl of Thanet inherited Bodiam Castle.
  • 1674-1675: Nathaniel Powel owned Bodiam Castle.
  • 1722: Sir Thomas Webster purchased the castle. It descended through the Webster family for over a century.
  • 1829-1916: John “Mad Jack” Fuller owned Bodiam Castle after inheriting several lands.
  • 1848: George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe, purchased the castle from John Fuller’s grandson upon Fuller’s death.
  • 1916: Lord Curzon bought and restored the castle.



Bodiam Castle Architecture

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bodiam_Castle_ground_plan.jpg 

https://sites.northwestern.edu/medieval-buildings/bodiam/ 

https://www.castlesworld.com/castles/bodiam-castle.php 

General Layout

Bodiam Castle is an impressive structure, a four-sided fortress with towers in each corner. Unlike most castles people conjure in their heads, Bodiam Castle does not have a central keep. Instead, it boasts a large gatehouse (complete with a tower on each side), and a massive inner ward that included its domestic structures. The castle interior stays in line with the characteristics of most 14th-century castles in the surrounding area.

Original Layout

The castle, from its construction, sat in the centre of the spring-fed moat. Surrounding the moat was meticulously landscaped scenery, including vast green fields. The design of the landscape was intended to make the castle appear larger to those who dare approach. Bodiam Castle had a central courtyard and numerous domestic buildings built into the castle’s curtain walls. The castle appears to have been designed to provide comfortable living accommodations, as well as a display of wealth and power.

Water Features

On one side of the moat sat an island known as The Octagon. During excavations, a (garderobe) mediaeval toilet was discovered on The Octagon. The discovery of the toilet suggests The Octagon was manned by a castle-serving guard. However, this information has never been confirmed.

Domestic Buildings

Bodiam Castle’s domestic buildings included:

 

  • Apartments
  • Chamber
  • Great Chamber
  • Lord’s Hall
  • Buttery
  • Pantry
  • Kitchen
  • Towers
  • Gatehouse

 

Excavations suggest the castle boasted an additional kitchen, hall, anteroom, service quarters, and stables.

A chapel was built into and along the eastern curtain wall. You can see signs of this building from outside the castle walls. It is evidenced by the way the stone fortress juts 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) into the water along the eastern side.

Today, much of the exterior of Bodiam Castle is well-preserved and some areas have been extensively restored. The interior, however, is in a ruinous state. Despite this, there is still plenty to see and explore, as visitors may climb the towers, sit in the window seats, and roam the historic grounds of the property.

Castle Defensive Design

The general consensus is that Bodiam Castle was built as a means to protect the area from a potential French invasion. However, it’s also agreed that the location is most unusual, considering its distance from the coastline.

 

Bodiam Castle’s location has led some scholars to speculate that the fortress was more for visual appeal as opposed to defence. Additionally, the site has no signs of damage from a siege or war. Despite this, there are numerous defensive elements to the castle.

Moat

The castle’s roughly-rectangular moat was wide, though it was not very deep. It was also easily drained. As such, it’s believed the moat served as a decorative element, making the fortress appear far more imposing. This likely served as an intimidation factor or a way for Sir Dalyngrigge to showcase his wealth and power.

Barbican

The Octagon sits in the moat, and is believed to have been manned by a castle guard. Between the island and the castle was also a two-storey barbian. This outer defensive building included a portcullis for extra protection and boasted sleeping quarters for a guard.

Gatehouse

To enter the castle, guests would approach the gatehouse from a drawbridge (today, it is a static bridge). Gun loops overlooked the gatehouse. The gatehouse sits between two towers and includes a massive door, double archway, and portcullis. Additionally, there were machicolations and arrow slits. Inside the gatehouse pathway were murder holes.

Towers

Each of Bodiam Castle’s four corners boasts its own three-storey tower. These towers were ascended via spiral staircases, and provided archers with better vantage points. Because the towers rose so high, archers could easily shoot out over the curtain walls when necessary.

Weak Points

Another reason why some scholars reject the idea that Bodiam Castle was built for defence is because of the castle’s weak points. There are large windows throughout the fortress, making easy access for potential invaders. Additionally, Bodiam Castle’s rear was considered a significant weak point, capable of being breached.

Images of Bodiam Castle

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Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

What Can I See During Visit to Bodiam Castle?

 

  • See the ruinous castle interior. Bodiam Castle is steeped in mediaeval history. Though the outer shell of the fortress remains intact, the interior is in a state of disrepair. Despite this, however, there is enough of the structure remaining to determine a rough layout of the site. Visitors can also climb the towers using a spiral staircase.


  • Explore the landscape surrounding the castle. A path surrounds the castle moat, allowing visitors to explore the land and enjoy its stretching green landscape. The area is full of diverse wildlife throughout its wetlands and grasslands. Tourists can observe a variety of bird species, bats, and fish. A wildlife guide pamphlet is available for free at the Visitor Centre.

 

  • Bring lunch and enjoy the view. Feel free to bring a picnic blanket and sprawl out in the lush green grass while enjoying a picnic. The area provides scenic views of the Sussex countryside, perfect for a tranquil, quiet lunch.

 

  • View the castle’s online archaeology collection. Interested in learning more about the site’s history? While you’re there, check out artefacts that have been uncovered at the site on the National Trust’s website. This collection includes urns, mugs, tiles, badges, keys, and more.


  • Check out the special events. Bodiam Castle hosts numerous events, including archery for children, mini jousting, era-themed events, and a Mediaeval Fair during the summer. For more information on events, see the National Trust calendar or visit the Bodiam Castle Facebook page.

 

  • Visit The Wharf Tea Room and Castle View Café. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a snack or a sweet treat, Bodiam Castle boasts two on-site food options. Here, visitors will find children’s lunches, beverages, light meals, cakes, tea, and ice cream. The Wharf Tea Room is open year-round, but the café opens seasonally.

 

  • Shop in the on-site stores. There is a well-stocked shop on-site offering visitors the chance to take home souvenirs, such as plants, home decor, and various gifts. In addition, the Riverside Second-Hand Book Shop is a favourite among book lovers.

Bodiam Castle Facts

  1. Bodiam Castle is home to several restless spirits. Numerous visitors to the fortress claim the castle and its surroundings are haunted. There are reports from people who have heard repeating oaths, chants, and strange-sounding songs. One man claims to have seen a “Red Lady” wandering and staring out from one of the towers. In addition to the eerie noises and the Red Lady, one witness reported seeing a male child running towards the castle from the bridge before vanishing into thin air.

  2. The castle may have an undiscovered underground tunnel system. Rumours state that Bodiam Castle sits atop a vast tunnel system. It’s unknown where these claims originated, and the existence of tunnels is unconfirmed. Although the truth has yet to be revealed, the idea of tunnels running beneath the castle adds to its allure and mystery.

  3. Bodiam Castle was used as a filming location for multiple productions. In the famed movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” Bodiam Castle is Swamp Castle in the Tale of Sir Lancelot scene. Additionally, Bodiam Castle was the filming location for a 1984 Doctor Who broadcast, and in an episode of the 2014 revived series (Robot of Sherwood).

  4. The castle’s moat was essentially an “open sewer.” The moat is perhaps the most striking feature of the castle, and adds to the imposing feel of the fortress. While its beautiful watery landscape is appealing to look at, it likely smelled pretty terrible, especially during the warmer months. It acted as the castle sewer, as nearly 30 garderobes drained directly into the water.

  5. Previous owner, John “Mad Jack” Fuller, was the subject of many strange rumours. John “Mad Jack” Fuller was an important political figure during his time, but his drunken antics led to his removal from Parliament. Upon his death, rumours emerged claiming he was moved into the tomb while sitting in a chair wearing a top hat. Other stories say he set booby traps to stop the devil from stealing his soul. Both rumours were proven untrue, as his body was discovered buried beneath the floor. No traps were located.

  6. Mediaeval graffiti and other marks line the walls of Bodiam Castle. Before entering the castle, look above the entrance to see Sir Edward’s unicorn crest and the Dalyngrigge coat of arms carved into the stone. While inside the gatehouse, scan the room for mediaeval graffiti and even symbols to ward off witches and sinister spirits. In areas of the castle used by royalty and those of high-rank, you may find mason marks. Although stonemasons were often illiterate during the times, they still wanted to mark the blocks they built with their own “signature.”

  7. Important bat conservation efforts occur at Bodiam Castle. Bats have been roosting at Bodiam Castle for quite some time. The National Trust participates in bat conservation efforts throughout the year. During some of the more active periods (when new bats are born or baby bats are learning to fly), the castle and its grounds may close.



Bodiam Castle Q&A

Why is the Bodiam Castle famous?

Bodiam Castle is famous for its inclusion in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and its appearance in an episode of both the 1984 and 2014 Doctor Who series. Additionally, the castle is known for its picturesque man-made landscaping and mediaeval architecture.

What has been filmed at Bodiam Castle?

Scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed at Bodiam Castle (during the Tale of Sir Lancelot segment. In addition, Bodiam Castle was seen in the Doctor Who series (episodes from 1984 and 2014).

Is Bodiam Castle worth visiting?

Bodiam Castle is worth visiting for those in East Sussex. It is an excellent example of mediaeval history and boasts an impressive landscape. There are many things to see and do at Bodiam Castle, including exploring the grounds and castle ruins, shopping, eating in the cafe, and observing local wildlife.

Can you walk around Bodiam Castle for free?

You cannot walk around Bodiam Castle for free unless you’re a National Trust member visiting during opening hours. All other visitors must pay a fee between £5.50 and £27.50, depending on the type of ticket purchased. Children ages five and under are also free.

Location of Bodiam Castle

Robertsbridge is a small village in East Sussex with a population of less than 1,500 residents. The town dates back to 1176, when a Cistercian Abbey was erected on the site. About 300 years after its establishment, the abbey was dissolved. Despite this, the village of Robertsbridge continued to experience a period of growth and expansion.

Today, Robertsbridge is home to numerous historic buildings. Some homes and cottages in the village date as far back as the 14th century. Visitors can explore the small town and enjoy its numerous pubs, shops, and eateries while indulging in its rich history.

Other Places To Visit Near Bodiam Castle

Mad Jack Fuller’s Tomb

John “Mad Jack” Fuller — his nickname given to him based on his eccentricities — purchased Bodiam Castle in 1829 at the age of 72. Upon his death, he was buried about 16 kilometres (10 mi) southeast in the Brightling Churchyard. He built his own tomb in the shape of a pyramid. Later, he was buried beneath the structure.

Great Dixter House and Gardens

Christopher Lloyd, English gardener, enjoyed the intensive labour of densely-planted gardens. He spent much of his life living at the Great Dixter House and Gardens, growing various plant species. Settlement on the site dates as far back as 1220, with surviving structures from the 1450s. Visitors can explore the gardens to see a variety of plant and animal species and various water features, including open ponds.

Pashley Manor Gardens

Pashley Manor Gardens is a 4.5 hectares (11 acre) garden in Wadhurst. The site includes box hedges, a magnificent walled garden, meticulously manicured lawns, and numerous species of trees. Wildlife in the area include insects like butterflies and bees, and birds including swans and ducks.

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