Bodiam Castle by Karen Arnold

Historically, Britain’s South Coast has been a key strategic location, which is why successive monarchs chose to build castles there. The added benefit for modern visitors is that it’s such a beautiful part of the country, providing breathtaking scenery and views.

Sussex has plenty of accommodation to offer visitors, including self-catering holiday cottages, providing the perfect base from which to explore the area’s rich heritage.


Early Norman Castles

Hastings Castle was the first ever Norman castle built in this country. With fabulous views of the Hastings coastline, these ruins evoke a powerful sense of the past. The site also includes a history of the famous Battle of Hastings vividly recreated through sound and images; and the nearby Smugglers Adventure, comprising mysterious caverns and tunnels of the coastline.

Overlooking the river Arun, Arundel Castle dates back to 1067. Rising high above the town, it’s an imposing structure and is the ancestral seat and family home of the 18th Duke of Norfolk. By contrast to Hastings Castle, this building is very much the result of historical development, containing an impressive Regency library and Victorian bedrooms.

The castle also has an impressive art collection, including paintings by Canaletto, Van Dyck and Gainsborough. The surrounding gardens are open to the public, offering a sumptuous display of flora and landscaping, as well as hosting open air performances of Shakespeare’s plays as part of the Arundel Festival.

The 1000 year old Lewes Castle offers panoramic views of Sussex if you make the climb to the top of its tower. It also houses a great bookshop, while adjoining it is the Barbican House, where you’ll find the Museum of Sussex Archeology.


A Fairytale Fortress in Sussex

Sometimes a castle fulfils all your expectations. Bodiam Castle is just such a place. Located in East Sussex, by the river Rother, the castle dates back to the 1300s, but it isn’t certain whether it was built primarily as a fortress, or as a stately home for Sir Edward Dallingridge.

Either way, it’s a mightily fine structure, with its lofty turrets and wide moat. The National Trust owns Bodiam Castle, and this distinguished historical building is open to the public.

The castle’s interior was destroyed during the English Civil War but was restored in the early 20th century. Now you can explore its spiral staircases and living quarters; and you can’t help but its well-preserved exterior impressive.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and after exploring the castle and its surroundings you can relax in the tearoom and buy excellent local produce from the castle shop.

Because it looks like such an archetypal storybook castle, Bodiam has immense appeal, conjuring up a really magical setting for the whole family to enjoy.