Arundel Castle is one of my favourite castles in the South of England! Set high on a hill at Arundel in West Sussex overlooking the South Downs and the River Arun. Born locally, I spent the first 16 years of my life in sight of this castle.
Arundel Castle is still home to the Duke of Norfolk. The Howard family and their ancestors have had a somewhat turbulent time over the past thousand years! Being staunch Catholics caused them some problems during the reformation. The family history is extremely interesting and, of course, complicated! Worth a read, more details can be found here.
Brief History of Arundel Castle
There has been a castle at Arundel for nearly a thousand years. The Motte, the central mound, was built in 1067AD. Originally designed as a Motte and double Bailey castle. The dry moat was constructed in 1068AD and then, the gatehouse in 1070AD.
Arundel Castle was built to secure William the Conquerors hold on England. Just after the Norman invasion of 1066. It forms a line of Castles protecting the Sussex coast, coupled with castles at, Bramber, Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings.
The keep is one of the oldest parts of the castle and was, at this point in time, the main castle building. The motte, the 30-meter mound of earth that the keep stands on was raised in 1067AD. It was crowned originally by a wooden structure. This was then replaced in 1140AD by the keep that still stands today. The wall around the castle known as the curtain wall was constructed between 1070AD and 1200AD.
From the top of the keep wall, you can see some great views of the Sussex countryside, as can be seen below. Looking south-west can see the town of Arundel and the river Arun which flows down to the coast and enters the sea at Littlehampton.
Looking from the north-east you can see the Black Rabbit public house, known to locals as the Mucky Bunny. Also, the villages of Burpham and Wepham can be seen below the South Downs.
Arundel Castle also played a role in the English Civil War. It changed hands several times between the parliamentarian forces and the royalists. As a matter of fact, the siege only lasted just over two weeks! This was because of the water supply to the castle being cut off. The local lake, Swanbourne Lake, where the castle got its water, being drained by the Parliamentarians. In light of this, thirst and dehydration put an end to the Royalist defenders.
However, this wasn’t the only siege of Arundel Castle. In the year 1102, the castle was besieged for three months because the Earl of Arundel rebelled against King Henry.
The castle was badly damaged during the English civil war, 1642-1645 but it wasn’t until nearly 80 years later that the damage was repaired. Much of what can be seen now is due to extensive works carried out by the 15th Duke of Norfolk (1847-1917) and the restoration was completed in 1900.
Grounds and Gardens
The grounds and the gardens of Arundel Castle are particularly beautiful. It’s a really nice walk on a sunny day listening to the birds singing and watching the bees visiting the flowers. The grounds give a sense of peace and quiet as well as a fantastic sense of history.
The Castle also has extensive gardens which are well worth a visit, the Rose Garden is especially at its best in June and July.
As can be seen, some of the gardens are in an Italian Style. These are actually new gardens but are based on early 17th Century classical designs. They are known as the Collector Earl’s Gardens.
The Collector Earl’s garden takes its name from the Duke of Norfolks 17th-century ancestor, Thomas Howard. In short, he was the 14th Earl of Arundel and a keen art collector. It is said that some preliminary sketches he made after his return from Italy formed the basis of the new design.
I would recommend a tour of the castle. I am always struck by the sense of continuing history every time I visit. It has a great collection of furniture from throughout the ages and also, rare paintings from the likes of Gainsborough, Van Dyck and Canaletto. And, of course, the sense of history permeates every stone.
Arundel Castle also hosts some one-off special events too. I remember seeing an open-air production of Hamlet here with the castle as the backdrop. As you can imagine it was, of course, stunning!
Also, they do a medieval joust week during the summer. That’s right, proper knights in armour and those horses with the curtains around them! Check the link at the bottom for their events pages and other information from Arundel Castle.
Film and Television
The castle has been host to a number of films and TV programs including ‘The Madness of King George’ where it doubled for Windsor Castle. Also, it appears in ‘Young Victoria’.
When: Tuesday to Sunday 30 March to 28 October 2018
As can be seen below, this is the current price list for Arundel Castle in 2018. The different levels of admission reflect what you can see and what you can’t. For a full list check out their website here.
Address: Arundel BN18 9AB. The entrance is on Mill Road. If arriving by train, the station is about 3/4 of a mile away. Exit the station and you will, undoubtedly, see it! It’s very hard to miss the huge castle!
If you want to learn more about the Castle, it can be seen on the TV program Secrets of Great British Castles
Opening times and more information can be found here
Arundel Castle Event List
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