Anyone who knows me knows that I love castles. I don’t consider myself a history buff by any means, but there’s something magical about these places that just draws me in – whether it’s the atmosphere, the beautiful gardens, or the architecture… I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve always been fascinated by medieval castles and palaces, and I love to be transported back into a particular era when I’m there. I can easily spend a whole day wandering around the castle grounds and gardens, trying to picture what life must have been like back in the day when people actually lived there.
Since I’ve been in England, I’ve visited more than half a dozen castles and palaces – mainly here in the South and South East- but I’m hoping to explore many, many more. One of my latest discoveries which I’m going to talk about today is West Sussex’s (not so) hidden gem, the gorgeous Arundel Castle.
Arundel Castle is a relatively short train journey away from London (about 1.5 hours from London Victoria) and is perfect for a day out, with or without kids. I went with a friend of mine and we had a fantastic time – but there were just as many families and kids around as there were adults.
Even though the town itself isn’t massive and most tourists go there solely because of the castle, it’s well worth a visit. You can easily spend a day walking around the old town, visiting Arundel’s beautiful churches or one of its traditional tearooms, taking a stroll along the river, or just exploring what the castle has to offer.
If you’re thinking of taking the train but are not a fan of walking long distances, don’t worry: the castle is within walking distance of the station (about 5-10 minutes, although we took a wrong turn and ended up walking up the hill… and then back down again, so it’s hard to tell 😀 ). Once you crossed the river, just follow the signs towards the castle and Wetland Centre.
Built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, Arundel Castle is one of the longest inhabited country houses in England. It’s been open to visitors for more than 200 years and is still one of the most popular castles here in the South, welcoming nearly 170,000 visitors in 2015 alone.
Prices and Ticket Choices
Arundel Castle has 4 different ticket options for visitors, depending on what you want to see: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Plus. You’ll find a summary of each (as well as the prices) on the castle’s website, but my personal recommendation would be to get the Gold Plus ticket. Why?
The £18 admission fee is a bit steep and we weren’t sure if it was worth it compared to the other three options, but it definitely was. Gold Plus gives you access to the castle bedrooms – as well as everything else you would get with a regular Gold ticket – which are by far the most stunning parts of the castle.
The good news is that, if you decide to get a gold or silver ticket but change your mind and realise you do want to see the bedrooms, you can get individual tickets to these once you’re inside the castle.
It’s impossible to pick just one, so I narrowed my personal favourites down to three. The castle bedrooms were amazing, although, annoyingly, you’re not allowed to take any photos inside. The Fitzalan Chapel, the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk, is gorgeous, and I loved the carved roof and choir stalls!
And, of course, the gardens! This place was literally like something from a postcard. Seriously, it’s just stunning. If I didn’t have company, I would’ve happily spent the entire afternoon here, reading and soaking up the sun.
What (else) to see in Arundel
If you still have some time, and energy, left after exploring the castle, Arundel Cathedral is worth a visit as well. Arundel Cathedral (formerly known as The Cathedral Church of Our Lady and St Philip Howard) is a Roman Catholic cathedral built in 1873, which is situated at the top of the hill, overlooking Arundel and the castle.
If you’d like to stop by, the place is open every day from 9 a.m till 6 p.m, and admission is free.
If you’re more of an outdoorsy person (high-five!), you could also go for a stroll by the river. West Sussex is famous for its beautiful scenery, green hills, and gorgeous coastline – and Arundel is no exception. Although the weather turned for the worse the minute we started walking, as you will see on my last picture here, I’m still glad we decided to have a look around.
There are several different footpaths you can take depending on how much time you have, but this is the walk we did. It’s a short, 3-mile (4 km) walk which can easily be completed in under an hour, but it was definitely the perfect ending to our day.
Have you guys been to Arundel? If not, what was the best castle you’ve visited? 🙂