Arundel Castle

Posted: August 22, 2009 in Ramblings

On Saturday, despite Alex’s & my remaining jet-lag, we went to Arundel Castle.  It was a super-hot day, and Alex was mightily cranky.  I didn’t feel so well myself, but in the interest of sightseeing I tried to squelch that and soldier on.

The castle dates from the 11th century and has been added onto, maintained and updated throughout the centuries.  It is a beautiful place, with lovely grounds and views, although squashed up against the castle walls lies the town of Arundel.  But the castle has pretty extensive grounds between it and the castle walls, so you don’t really feel encroached until you’ve gotten up in the Keep and looked out over the castle walls.  It remains the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk/Earls of Arundel.

Town in the DistanceView of the town from up above in the Keep. 


Because of the heat and Alex’s not-quite-right feeling, we went very slowly around the place, starting with the FitzAlan Chapel.  This is a lovely little building but it had one significant flaw, which was, none of the monuments inside had plaques, so we had no idea who the monuments were for.  They all had Latin text.  My Latin is very rusty although I did pick out the name ‘Henricus II’ on one of the monuments.  I was very excited to think the Lion in Winter was buried at this chapel (“Eleanor – I want the Aquitaine!”), but he is buried at Fontevrault Abbey in France, so I don’t know why there’s a monument there – unless it was to someone else, who lived “during the reign of Henry II” or something similar.

Approaching the Chapel Here, Anthony, Alex and I approach the chapel.

Inside the Chapel 3A view of the chapel interior. 

Stained Glass

Stained glass windows behind the altar.

Roof Vaulting

Roof vaulting.  (You know I’m more interested in the architecture than the theology involved, these days.)

From here we proceeded on to the formal gardens.  They were spacious and blistering hot despite the white gravel used for the pathways.

Entering the Formal Gardens 

An old woman in front of me fainted!  Alex was looking pretty weak, too, by this point, so we sat down for a while and looked at this fountain.

Fountain 1

And then these fountains:

More Fountains 2 

Nice, huh?  Inspired me to do a bit of landscape planning for the ol’ homestead in Sammamish.  If you turn 180 degrees from here and look, this is what you see:

More Fountains

Yes!  These earls and dukes certainly know how to do things.  Finally, here is the last fountain.  If you walk to the end of the pool above, then turn and look back towards the first view, this is how it looks.

Last Fountain

The great thing about these gardens is that not only are they formal and beautiful, they are also functional.  We walked through the area where the fruits and vegetables are grown for the household.  Still a very lovely and organized area, but utilitarian, too!  This, for example, is a grape arbor.


Yes, there’s a lot more to write about, and I have a lot more pictures.  Please note that we went way overboard on pictures this day.  I don’t believe any of our other destinations encouraged quite so many photos!

As we walked to the main part of the castle, we saw a gate in the walls.  Funny to see this old-fashioned thing with a truck in it!

Castle Gate

From here we proceeded to the main castle.  Here is a distance view of it through the trees.  In addition to being in love with old architecture, I love good landscaping, and I really envy them these lush, deciduous trees (and the space to grow them).

Castle through the trees

We approached a gate for entering the castle…then learned it was the private entrance for the nobility.

Visitor Entrance

Ant pulled out the map so we could orient ourselves, and we did finally walk on to the real castle entrance.  Since pictures are not allowed to be taken inside the castle, I am unable to show you its glories.  However, here’s an illustrative story.  As children, we went to the Atlantic coast each summer for a vacation (usually to Ocean City, New Jersey, as you may already know).  One year we went to a different town on the Atlantic coast.  My sister was busy reading a book and Dad said, “Look, there’s the ocean!”  Without looking up, Diane replied, “Ah, you see one ocean, you’ve seen them all.”  (Naturally this elicited a lot of laughter, since the Atlantic was the only one she’d ever seen, but I digress.)  It’s much the same with castles.  The exterior is interesting and looks very fortification-like and can make me think of how things were when it was built, when England needed its defenses.  But the interior (apart from obvious differences like who’s in the portraits, or differences in the art of the country or era) is very much like any other castle or palace I’ve seen, sort of museum-like.  Lots of gilt, lots of carved wood and stone, old portraits, pieces of preserved art, rooms set up as they would have been in bygone eras.  Since we were all bushed at this point, we went to the castle restaurant for a quick snack and some down time.

After that, we climbed to the top of the Keep (to get the view shown in the very first picture in today’s entry).  This is where things got pretty hairy.  Remember it was really hot?  There were loads of visitors, all sweaty, cramming into these small interior rooms and stairways.  Alex was still tired & crabby so Chris carried him up to the Keep – 106 steps!  It was all I could do not to faint in the close spaces.  Outside in the Keep, however, we did get some great views and some much-needed fresh air.  Unfortunately this only reminded us of how fuggy it would be going back inside!  Alex did perk up inside, though; I suspect being out of the sun helped.

By the way – the hats you see on Alex and me are from the wonderful  Alex’s is the Kids Hat and mine is the Super Sun Hat.  Susie makes these in various color choices and you can customize your own for a great $45.  Kids hats are much less expensive but also a little less involved to make.

We did get a good Arundel guidebook and leafed through it at our leisure when we returned to Rudgwick.  Good information, although they STILL don’t tell you for whom the monuments were built!

Tomorrow, the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

  1. Unknown says:

    Nice pix, Picks.

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