I love discovering a bit of history, especially shaped as a castle, and luckily Britain is just full of them! What is special about Arundel castle is that it´s one of England´s largest complete and inhabited castles, dating back to 1067. Now that´s 50years short of a thousand, so pretty impressive indeed! The castle looks fully intact and has the family of 18th Duke of Norfolk still living in it, making the castle one of the longest inhabited country houses in England. Due to this fact, only about half of the castle is open for public and even those parts get closed and used for family receptions in Winter and occasionally throughout Summer as well. We were told that just a weekend before there were people staying in the luxurious old-fashioned guest rooms, now open for public view.
The oldest part of the castle is the 9m tall Norman Motte and Keep from the 11th Century. Initially that was the hearth of the castle, with wooden “apartment block” style housing inside the inhabitants. In the middle of the tower is a open air cellar, that acted as a food storage and a temporary dungeon for misbehaves. Try to imagine what happens if you put a thief in a fridge – i don´t think there was a lot of food left afterwards!
From the top edge of the tower there are breathtaking views across the nearby River Arun, the South Downs and a spectacular panoramic vista of West Sussex.
What felt a bit strange about the oldest part of the castle was the weird unsettled feeling that overtook both me and my friend while roaming around the motte. It´s like both of us suddenly did not feel very well with slight eeriness or discomfort in the air. Ghostly or not, there surely was something about it!
The interiors of the rooms in the newer quarters are very beautiful, grand and noble. Among residential chambers a small chapel and a whole room dedicated to swords and weapons(could even see an unexploded bomb shell from WW2 along the passage). One of the most important chapters in the castle´s recent history was the visit of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert for a few days in the 19th Century. For this purpose a whole new wing was added to the castle to accomodate the Royal couple. My favorite was the red and dark brown mahogany library that gave a very cosy impression of the interior intending to “hug” you.
The castle is surrounded by magnificent gardens with wide selection of plants, flowers and other decorative features. The most exhilarating of them being a “dancing” crown on a splashing jet of water in the Collector Earl´s Garden.
Although it may appear the cathedral is also in the Castle garden, it is actually based in town, outside of the wall.
Arundel is great for a weekend getaway with sweet little town full of cute small artisan boutiques, cafeterias and expensive cars. Situated just 9km from the shore and with a large Arundel National Park on the other side. Unfortunately we didn´t have a chance to have a look at either of those this time, but there is a reason to return!