Bodiam was built in the valley of the Rother, a river which at the time could have been used by large ships to travel inland. The shape of the castle was probably based on designs Dalyngrigge saw in France and could be based on the castle of Villandraut in Aquitaine. The castle is surrounded by a wide moat and is rectangular in shape. At each of the four corners are tall drum towers and half way along the east and west sides are high rectangular towers.
On the north side is the main gatehouse and access to the castle across the moat is via two small islands, one octagonal and one square. The square island was the site of a barbican, a small tower with doors and a portcullis. Originally access to the castle across the moat was via a right-angle shaped wooden bridge that would have left attackers exposed to arrow-fire as they crossed, but this has been removed and access is provided by a bridge directly infront of the gatehouse. The main northern gatehouse was protected by several doorways and two portcullises.
On the southern side of the castle is a smaller gatehouse with a postern gate. This smaller entrance would have been protected by a drawbridge.
Inside the castle is a courtyard roughtly 80 feet square and the remains of the domestic buildings built up against the curtain wall. These buildings were two stories high and would have contained a banquet hall, private suites, kitchens, servant's lodgings, a chapel and many other facilities that made the castle a complete home.
It appears that the defences of the castle were never tested by attackers. After the English Civil War the order was given to destroy the castle to prevent it being used again, but thankfiully only the interior buildings were destroyed leaving the curtain walls and towers intact. In 1916/7 the Marquess Curzon of Kedleston bought the castle and rescued it from decay. Upon his death the castle was left in the care of the National Trust.