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Independent guides for the modern tourist

Arundel, West Sussex: a day trip and tourism guide for 2021

Arundel is one of the finest historic towns in southern England.
This delightful town sits on the banks of the River Arun, and is famed for it's magnificent castle, which is the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk.

The castle has its origins in the medieval era but was greatly renovated during the 19th century. Today the staterooms reflect the rich history of the castle and are packed with priceless antiques and historically important artefacts. The grounds surrounding the castle are equally as impressive, with ornamental gardens, rose gardens and vast expanses of tranquil lawns.

The town of Arundel is as fascinating as the castle. Found in the town is an impressive Neo-Gothic cathedral, an ornate town hall, and a bustling Highstreet filled with antique shops and independent restaurants.

Cutting through Arundel is the River Arun, and following it upstream, it leads to the Arundel wetland nature reserve and the unspoilt countryside of the South Downs.
Arundel is a wonderful tourist destination that you should definitely visit.
Related articles: Chichester guideThe best beaches of West Sussex

Highlights of Arundel

Arundel castle

Arundel castle – A majestic medieval castle, boasting an extensive history, beautiful gardens and lavish staterooms. The castle is one of the finest historic buildings of Southern England, and is totally unmissable.

Arundel Cathedral of Our Lady St Philip Howard

Arundel Cathedral – The magnificent 19th-century Cathedral, that stands as a proud icon of the Duke of Norfolk's historical defence of Catholicism in Britain.

river sidewalks along the River Arun

The River Arun – The tidal river that flows through Arundel, that provides scenic riverside walks.

Arundel Shopping for Antiques

Shopping for Antiques – Arundel is a collector's paradise, with numerous Antique shops along Tarrant Street, each crammed with historical curiosities.

A day trip to Arundel

Arundel is a fantastic destination for a day trip.

The main attraction will always be the castle, but there are many other interesting sights and activities to fill a day of sightseeing.
Arundel Castle takes about two hours to visit; one hour for the grounds and a second hour for the staterooms. After lunch in the town centre, you could visit the Cathedral, Saint Nicholas Church and browse the antique shops. Later you could take a stroll along the River Arun, visiting Arundel wetlands (the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) or hire a rowing boat at Swanbourne Lake.

Below is a suggested tour of Arundel and includes the highlights of the town and surrounding region. The yellow section highlights the castle grounds, which must be paid to enter.

Sights of the tour: 1) Arundel Museum 2) Castle ticket office and entrance 3) Castle Gardens 4) Arundel Castle 5) The High Street 6) Tarrant Street (Antique shops) 7) Arundel Town Hall 8) Saint Nicholas Church 9) Arundel Cathedral 10) Mill Lane 11) Swanbourne Lake 12) Arundel Wetlands (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)) 13) Arundel Lido 14) River Arun walk

Arundel town centre

Arundel town centre

Practicalities for a day trip to Arundel

Most visitors drive to Arundel, but there is a train station with direct serves from London, Portsmouth and Bognor Regis. The train station is 1km to the south-east of the town centre and is a 10-minute walk.

The main car park of Arundel is "Mill Road Car Park" (postcode BN18 9PA), which is opposite the entrance to the castle. There is a secondary car park by the Lido (called Fitzalan Pool Car Park – postcode BN18 9JG) and is only a short walk to the town centre.

There is free parking along the length of Mill Road, and if you are visiting mid-week or in the low season, this is where to try first to park (in the summer, this road gets very busy)
Warning: Do not visit Arundel on a Monday, as the castle is shut. Also on Mondays most cafes, shops and restaurants are also closed.

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is a fascinating historical building, which has a vast and varied amount to see. The extensive collections and beautiful gardens do justify the expensive entrance fee £22 (adult), while there is a grounds only ticket (£14) if you do not wish to view the staterooms.

There are two main aspects to the grounds; the ornamental gardens overlooking the Cathedral, and the tranquil lawns surrounding the castle. Within the ornamental gardens is the Collector Earl's Garden, the Flower Garden, The Stumpery, and the Kitchen Garden.

Inside the castle, there are over thirty lavishly decorated rooms, which were restored during the 19th century, and are packed with antiques and grand furniture. The main highlights are the Fitzalan Chapel, the gorgeous 19th-century library and the Baron's Hall.

The final area to visit is the medieval keep, which provides wonderful views over the castle. Tickets and opening hours can be found on the Arundel Castle website: www.arundelcastle.org

Warning: Tickets for the castle must be pre-purchased. At busy periods, tickets to the castle do completely sell out – always pre-book tickets before your day trip.

Arundel Castle Library

The stunning library in the castle

Arundel Castle Fitzalan Chapel

The Fitzalan Chapel

A brief history of Arundel Castle
The medieval castle dates from 1067 and was constructed by Roger de Montgomery, a cousin of King William I (William the Conqueror).

The Earls of Arundel expanded the medieval castle until the castle was besieged in 1643, during the English civil war. The Earl of Arundel gave refuge to 10,000 royalists troops but was forced to surrender just 18 days later. To prevent further rebellions, the Parliamentarian troops destroyed much of the castle in 1653.

The castle was only restored under the 11th Duke of Norfolk from 1787 to 1815, and his only remaining legacy in the castle is the beautiful library. The castle was completely remodelled for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1846, as the castle was perceived to be cold, damp and dark, and an entirely new wing was constructed.

The castle was again modernised in the 1900s, with the addition of heating, and is currently lived in by the 18th Duke of Norfolk.

Insight: The Dukes of Norfolk have historically been Catholic, hence the construction of Arundel's Catholic Cathedral.

Arundel Castle medieval keep and moat

The medieval section of the castle looking up at the keep from the moat

Arundel Cathedral

Arundel's spectacular Cathedral is situated at the highest point of the town, and is the finest example of French-Gothic revival style in England. The ornate Gothic facade was modelled on 14th century French churches, but the Cathedral was only constructed in 1873.

The Cathedral is dedicated to Philip Howard (the 13th Earl of Arundel), who was imprisoned (and died 1595 in prison) by refusing to convert to Anglican religion.

The interior of the Cathedral is light and airy, with beautiful stained-glass windows and statues.

Arundel Cathedral

Arundel Cathedral stands high above the city

Arundel Cathedral inside

The relative modern design of the cathedral means that the interior is light and bright

Saint Nicholas Church

Saint Nicholas Church is one of the most unique churches in England, as it has been divided into two, to allow worship for both Anglicans and Catholics.

The gothic church was constructed by Richard Fitzalan, the 11th Earl of Arundel, in 1380. With the devotion of monasteries in 1544 by Henry VIII, the church was transferred to an Anglican place of worship, but the Duke of Norfolk remained Catholic.

To solve this issue a wall was constructed to separate the Anglican church from the Catholic chapel. This wall has now been replaced with an iron grate.

The Church of Saint Nicholas
Swanbourne Lake

Swanbourne Lake is a peaceful area of Arundel, to the northeast of the castle. Swanbourne Lake is one of the oldest man-made lakes in England, being constructed in the 11th century to power a water mill. Today the lake is surrounded by forests and offers scenic walks, while on the lake, rowing boats can be hired.

Swanbourne Lake

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Discover the best of southern England

Lyington hampshire
Mudeford dorset
Arundel Sussex
Salisbury wiltshire
Mudeford dorset
Avebury wiltshire
Milford-on-Sea hampshire
Christchurch dorset
Highcliffe dorset
Hengistbury Head
New Forest beach
Lyington hampshire
Mudeford dorset
Arundel Sussex
Salisbury wiltshire
Mudeford dorset
Avebury wiltshire
Milford-on-Sea hampshire
Christchurch dorset
Highcliffe dorset
Hengistbury Head
New Forest beach