Looking for a day trip escape from the bustling city of London? In less than two hours, you could be exploring Arundel Castle, your bucolic retreat in the West Sussex countryside and a fine example of a medieval castle. Built at the end of the 11th century by the Earl of Arundel, the castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for 850 years!
I was quite astonished at the condition of the interiors and exterior. With the exception of a few older bits, the castle appears to be fully restored and remodeled, almost like a film set! It was fully restored in the late 1800’s by Henry, the 15th Duke of Norfolk. Be aware you’ll need to climb some very steep and narrow stairs to access the castle Keep and some of the rooms, so leave the stilettos at home.
We opted for a Silver admission giving entrance to the Castle Keep, Gardens and Fitzalan Chapel as well as the gift shop and restaurant. More than enough castle browsing for me, but there’s also entrance to castle rooms if you’re an aficionado. For additional ticket information and opening times, check here. The castle and grounds close for the season on October 29, so you may be able to squeak in a visit this year.
Exploring Arundel Castle History:
- King Henry II built most of the oldest stone part of the castle
- Third Duke of Norfolk was uncle to both Anne Boleyn and Catharine Howard, two of Henry VIII wives
- The 4th Duke of Norfolk was beheaded for plotting to marry Mary Queen of Scots
- Portraits by Gainsborough, Van Dyck, Canaletto and the personal possessions of Mary Queen of Scots
- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited in 1846
- Restoration by Henry the 15th Duke of Norfolk was completed in 1900
- Filming location for Dr. Who, The Madness of King George, The Young Victoria
- The Collector Earl’s Garden was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 2008
How to get to Arundel:
We traveled to Arundel by train. If you’re coming from London, you’ll depart from London Victoria station. During the week trains leave about every half hour and are direct (no changes). The trip takes about an hour and twenty minutes. Easy peasy. Buy your tickets on Trainline, collect at the station and you’re on your way.
Arundel is a small train station. As you’re walking out the front of the station turn to your right and take the path that leads under the main road above. After you go under the overpass, you’ll be walking alongside the main road into the town of Arundel. Look for signs for Town Centre and plan on 15 minutes. Once you walk over the River Arun bridge, you’ll see the castle on your right. Can’t miss it. You can either enter and start your tour of the castle if you’re ready for a lovely lunch continue down Mill road to the right of the castle to the Black Rabbit.
Continue on Mill Road (or at the next bridge cross over and take a path to the right towards the river. It’s a bit shorter but can be quite muddy so be prepared). 25 minutes later (it’s about 1.25 miles) you’ll be at the Black Rabbit pub. The customs officer at Gatwick recommended it and now I can too. Wonderful setting on the river and a really lovely pub with yummy food. Worth the walk!
Once you’ve had your fill of pie and grub, head back to the Castle. We spent about 2-3 hours browsing the Keep, and then the Gardens. The Collectors Earl’s Garden was very impressive, a light hearted tribute to the 14th Earl of Arundel, it overflowed with tropical flowers, fountains and elaborately carved oak obelisks.
The gardens lie tucked behind the 14th century Fitzalan chapel where the Dukes of Norfolk rest in splendour. One infamous Duke who died in battle at a very young age is depicted in life and death below as a skeleton with shroud.
If you have time before your train departs, walk through the town of Arundel and explore the antique shops and pubs. Follow the same road back to the station and relax for your ride back to London Victoria in time for dinner, if you have any room after your lunch at the Black Rabbit!
If you decide to make it more of a long weekend, maybe my packing list will come in handy!