Castles in the air

Camber Castle from the air

If you are open to suggestions for places to visit, the following three venues are within a mile, 9 miles and 18 miles respectively – something to consider if you are able to enjoy the outdoors.

East Sussex is blessed with having some of the finest castles in the country and, whilst viewing them internally is not possible at the moment, to enjoy them from afar by savouring their locations is something we can all still experience. Here are three options if you want a day out locally, or perhaps further afield, or on the other side of the county if time allows and you are prepared to travel.

For those wanting to stay close to home Camber Castle is well worth considering, built by King Henry VIII, a large, concentric artillery fort, with a central keep, surrounded by four circular bastions and a circular entrance bastion, built from stone and brick.

One access on foot is from Harbour Road and, if you have never visited before, Camber Castle is not somewhere for everyone as there is no vehicular access to it, but for those who are able and fancy a level walk (about 1 mile) through fields of sheep this would be a great venue for a picnic on a sunny day. The exterior is viewable at any time, but the interior is only open by guided tour between August and October.

Alternatively, for those who want a day out and are prepared to travel, Bodiam Castle is also spectacular and well worth a visit. A ruined 14th century castle left much as it was the last time it saw battle and it resembles the castle you may have built with a bucket and spade as a child on the beach, and again another great location to enjoy a picnic in the grounds.

A beautiful castle in a moated setting but you need to book to get access to the grounds.

Bodiam is about 9 miles from Rye and only around 7 miles from Battle, the site of the Battle of Hastings, and well worth a visit but, due to coronavirus, you will need to book your car parking space in advance of your arrival to Bodiam Castle. National Trust members can book for free, while non-members will need to pay when booking. Tickets are being released each Friday but, without a ticket, visitors will be turned away.

Finally, the trio of castles is complete when you include the magnificent castle at Herstmonceux, the oldest brick building of note still standing in the country, once the largest private home in fifteenth century England. From an ivy-clad, gothic ruin, it was fully restored as a magnificent private dwelling in the first half of the twentieth century.

It later became home to the world famous Royal Greenwich Observatory and is now the Bader International Study Centre, the overseas campus of Queens University in Canada.
Today, the majestic moated castle is the centrepiece of a beautiful 300 acre estate, with woodland trails as well as tranquil themed and formal gardens to wander around at your leisure.

A magnificent building in a beautiful setting.

Due to coronavirus, the estate has been closed since March but will embark on a phased re-opening, commencing Tuesday, June 16. Initially, admission will be restricted to season ticket holders only and opening days will be Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am – 3pm.

Plenty to see within the spectacular grounds of Herstmonceux Castle

For non season ticket holders, from Saturday July 4, daily opening will resume for all visitors subject to booking conditions. Castle tours will not be available while the current restrictions are in place. and the visitor centre and Castle arts gallery will also remain closed until restrictions are lifted.

Reopening will be subject to current government guidelines and social distancing will be enforced for the safety and welfare of both visitors and staff.

For more information on all three venues please see the following websites.

Camber Castle

Bodiam Castle

Herstmonceux Castle

Image Credits: Barbara van Cleve [CC BY-SA 4.0],, Barry Howse, Marketing Coordinator, Herstmonceux Castle , Barry Howse, Marketing Coordinator,Herstmonceux Castle .


  1. I’m note sure whether your correspondent travels in a winged chariot pulled by half-a-dozen Corvum Nigrum like a Norse god on a Saga holiday, or borrows a four-wheel buggy from a farmer to cut across fields of maturing crops and hedges and copses like a German Panzer busting through the Ardennes, but I suggest his distancing in this outing are way out. Bodiam is, at best, according to multiple searches, 12.1 miles by road from Rye, not 9 as claimed. And distant Herstmonceux is, at best, 23.9 miles from Rye, not 18 miles! Quite apart from castles like Hastings being closer, this is not in Rye or its neighboring villages as per Rye News’ own stated areas of coverage.


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