Last Summer, we had a glorious weekend away in West Sussex exploring Climping Beach and staying at the wonderful family-friendly Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa. On our way home, we decided it would be a waste of the day if we didn’t explore the area more – and it was a great decision because we would never have discovered the majestic features of Arundel Castle and its beautiful gardens.
You can’t miss Arundel Castle as you drive into the historic market town of the same name. Monkey spotted it straight away, its stonework glistening on top of Leith Hill.
After pulling up in the adjacent car park to the entrance of the castle, we made our way into the grounds via a steep hill. It was a beautiful day for exploring and Monkey and the husband were both thrilled to also find an old motorbike convention just as we got inside. They spent a while perusing the old motors, while I wandered up to the castle walls, marvelling at the red poppies adorning the steep banks.
By the time the others joined me, Monkey was excited to get a glimpse of inside the castle and to get to the top of the Norman Motte and Keep. Stepping inside meant we got a shady respite from the heat, and managed to see some of the splendid interiors with its majestic furniture, tapestries and rare collection of paintings by renowned artists including Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto.
We enjoyed peeking out of the tiny arrow slits down to the courtyard below, and then we made our way up slowly up the 131 steps to the Keep, where we were greeted by a magnificent view of the River Arun, the sea, the town and the Downs, as well as the Bevis Tower, named after the giant, Sir Bevis Hampton, who was responsible for defending the castle.
Arundel Castle history
Arundel was founded at the end of the 11th Century, it has been the family home of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for nearly 1,000 years. The original castle was founded on Christmas Day 1067 by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal barons. He was awarded a third of Sussex with the stipulation that a new castle is built near the mouth of the Arun to protect the approaches to Sussex from attack. Arundel Castle is one of the longest inhabited country houses in England. Many of the original features such as the Barbican and the lower part of Bevis Tower survive. Between the 1870s and 1890s the house was almost completely rebuilt and the magnificent architecture in Gothic style is considered to be one of the great works of Victorian England.
Arundel Castle Gardens
Back on the grounds, we decided to grab a cool drink and sit in the shade of a huge willow tree – you’ll find plenty of nooks and grassy knolls to relax on. After a small rest, we then made our way to Arundel’s extensive gardens – which I adored. As regular readers know, I am slightly partial to an enclosed garden and Arundel’s different themed gardens set in its own area are simply beautiful.
We spent some time walking in the rose garden, the Chapel garden with white and cool coloured plants; the cutting garden with perennials and rare plants; as well as the renovated Victorian peach house and vinery, where exotic fruits and vegetables are cultivated.
The colours smells and overall ambience made Arundel’s gardens such a highlight of our visit. Monkey adored running through the different rows of flora and fauna and discovering different spots to hide in. He was also fascinated by the centrepiece within The Collector Earl’s Garden of a stalagmite fountain and gilded coronet ‘dancing’ on top of a jet of water.
It was with reluctance that we had to leave the beautiful grounds of Arundel Castle, but time was ticking on – and ice cream was calling for our young boy. We were pleased that we hadn’t bothered getting a Gold plus ticket which would mean we could explore the full Castle interior – only because we got to spend more time outside. Plus, we knew that there would be plenty of opportunities to return and see more of this impressive castle on another occasion – which I am certain there will be.
Would I recommend a visit to Arundel? Yes, do go – the Castle and grounds are magical and if you want to combine a great day out with a big dose of history, then Arundel has it in spades…
Arundel Castle Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AB; Tickets from £11.00 per adult for the grounds only; £10 per child for grounds only