For the longest time, I’ve wanted to visit Arundel Castle! I remember hearing about it years ago and thinking it was a joke – in large part because the name sounds made up, like a place or a character from Lord of the Rings. Then I found out it was a real place and, after seeing actual photos of it, was obsessed with it ever since.
Another thing I’d always wanted to do was to spend at least one night in a castle. Like not one of those moments after a few glasses of wine where you refer to your home as a castle, I mean a real castle with all the history behind it to boot!
Then I found out about Amberley Castle and that it was just about 10 – 15 minutes away from Arundel Castle and within a week or so, my plan to visit that awesome castle and stay in an amazing castle was all booked in! (Well, you don’t actually have to book for Arundel Castle, you can just walk up).
Both places are only under 2 hours away from London (by car or train) so we booked a rental and on a sunny day, left London for Arundel!
Suffice to say, no good British road trip is complete without a stop for tea, which we did in a village not too far from Arundel which I can barely pronounce! (Literally trying right now to see if I can find it on a location tag of a photo I took there…)
Ah, yes… just checked and the village was called Chiddingfold and we spent a few good minutes playfully teased by the café owner about not being able to remember where we were (totally missed the sign on the way in to be fair).
Anyway, tea’d up, we hit the road again and in about 30 minutes were in Arundel.
Arundel is such a cute little town but truth be told, as soon as we arrived, all I could think about was food! We arrived at such an awkward time that most places had finished serving lunch and wouldn’t be starting the dinner service for a few hours.
Luckily, we found La Campania, a nice Italian restaurant still open (just about) for lunch.
We wasted no time in getting stuck in with meatballs to start, followed by carbonara for Lloyd and the pork belly for myself.
Finding La Campania was no mistake either. In what I’ve found to be a great way to never be disappointed by food, we asked the locals for advice in shops and even in other restaurants before deciding where to go to (and where to return to).
We finished off with pannacotta for myself and salted caramel chocolate brownie for Lloyd (warm, melted in the middle and the first time I’ve ever regretted not ordering the chocolate option on the dessert menu!).
Given what we’d had for lunch, I was absolutely stuffed and had to pause to catch my breath walking up to up the castle (it wasn’t even that steep!) with my camera bouncing on my tummy reminding me of my gluttony not too many moments ago.
Arundel Castle, by the way, is as amazing as I thought and hoped it would be.
Even as you approach it, you’re left in awe at its magnificence unfolding before you. It’s also pretty well preserved which seems less surprising when you find out that the family that owns it – The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk – have owned it for several generations, opening part of it to the public hence why it’s not fallen into disrepair or been handed over to the National Trust.
Arguably the most important part of the castle is the oldest part of the castle – the Keep, and it is (partly due to the fact that it’s the first part of the castle to close for the day) one part that everyone urges you to visit first.
This part of the castle is over almost a 1,000 years old and is so impressive to see – if not for the age alone, but for the view over Arundel!
On the other side of the castle, and often blocked off to the public when in use are the private gardens of the Duke and Duchess. Those gardens are pretty sweet too and even have a pool and a tennis court (if you look really close below, you can see both).
While we were here, all the research I did while watching The Crown on Netflix finally came to play (and by research, I mean I would annoyingly press pause part way through and google historical info about the characters – just to check the veracity of the storylines, all of which were pretty much on point).
Anyway, from The Crown, I learned that the Duke of Norfolk is the one in charge of organising all state functions – including the Coronation of Queen. They’re a high ranking noble family and still have a prominent hand in proceedings till this day… (which might also explain why they got to keep this home)
By the way, a branch of this family is also the one that owns Castle Howard, which we visited in Yorkshire around Christmas time.
Eventually, we left the Keep and headed to the main castle…
Going past the impressive chapel…
…and making our way over to the equally impressive grand hall!
Everything here just feels so grand and regal (understandably so) – from dining room to even the guest rooms and living area.
What did come as a surprise to me was how the castle is still in private use when its closed to the public. The rooms are used by guests of the family (when their main home – which is pretty big – is too full) and even the old-time-y baths and showers still work till this day.
My favourite part of the castle though is the library. It’s smaller than some of the other spaces we’ve been in, in the castle but I just love the intricate wood panelling offset with the red tones across the room.
It reminds me of in a lot of ways of being a student Cambridge and just feel so familiar and cosy (despite the cordons).
After much mooching around, we eventually left the castle and hurried made our way over to the Fitzalan Chapel, which is less chapel, in the sense of a place of worship every Sunday and more of a burial ground for the members of the family. (The chapel in the castle is the main chapel they attend mass in on Sundays).
By the time we left the chapel, the castle ground had close but determined to squeeze in the final part of the castle, we hot-footed it over to the gardens where the flowers had started to bloom – a true reminder that summer wasn’t so far away after all! 🙂
Alas, we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time in gardens as I’d have liked but even with the little time here, it was hard not to be impressed.
Arundel castle turned out to just what I hoped it would be and I left feeling pleased as punch at finally being able to explore this absolutely amazing English gem!