One of the highlights of our trip was a day excursion to Arundel, where we got to explore Arundel Castle and Gardens. I’m a total history nut, so I was on Cloud Nine at this place!
Construction at Arundel began with the “motte”–the artificial mound of earth that the oldest part of the castle sits on–in 1068. Starting then and into the 1100s, a stone shell “keep” was built, with gatehouse, approaches, etc.
Arundel Castle was added to over time, with the largest portion being built in the 1800s. The older portion was actually used in war during the English Civil War (1642-45). It’s not just a pretty place; men lived and died to defend it. When you walk there, you feel like you’re walking on hallowed ground. This place is incredible. (And by the way, the family that owns it still lives there!)
Here are a few photos I thought you might enjoy. The first photo above shows how the castle towers over the town. It’s quite a hike up the hill from the bottom!
After you purchase your ticket and start to walk up the hill, this is what you look up at:
After you get inside, you go through a bunch of windy hallways and you arrive at the approach to the “keep,” which is outdoors again:
The keep is the oldest part of the castle. This is the part that they built in the 1000s and 1100s.
In its heyday, the keep wasn’t an empty circle like you see above. It had beams across it that supported floors and ceilings and divided it up into two stories. It had rooms on the inside where the lord and lady of the castle and their family lived. It also had places for servants and soldiers. Nevertheless, it was certainly primitive compared to modern standards.
The brick/stone fireplaces are still in the walls of the keep, and you can see some of the large, whitish, rectangular stones in the walls that supported the beams and staircases. Here’s a fireplace:
The keep also has a tower that contained storerooms, a chapel, a well, and the housing and machinery for the portcullis.
After you leave the keep and walk back down the staircase toward the main part of the castle, you see this lovely view of the modern part of the castle:
The modern part of the manor is built around this courtyard. It was built in the 1800s. On the far right of this photo, you see the stone-shell construction that is from the oldest part of the castle, built in the 1100s. It was just all built to flow together! It’s SOOO gorgeous!
You can tour the modern section of the manor. It’s very pretty. No photos are allowed in some places, so I don’t have interior photos to share – but click on the Arundel Castle link and you can see photos.
The castle has its own private (GORGEOUS!!!) chapel inside. (I would call it a church, not a chapel.) Aaaaannnd… one outside too! And a cathedral outside too! These guys are into their churches. So after you walk outside the castle and proceed up the hill toward the castle garden and chapel, you can look back and see this:
And you look up the hill and see this. This is the chapel, not the cathedral. (Like I said, these guys like their churches.)
This chapel is called Fitzalan Chapel. It’s gorgeous inside and out, and it’s very, very old. It was founded in 1390, and it actually has a glass wall down the middle of it that separates one part for Catholic use and one part for an Anglican church. (I found that kind of sad.)
Fitzalan Chapel is the burial place for the Dukes of Norfolk (the family that owns Arundel Castle). It has a bunch of tombs in it, and on top of the tombs are stone carvings (effigies) of the people buried inside. These are knights in their armor, with their wives, from the 1400s up until the modern day. It’s freaky to look at the tombs and effigies and realize how old they are. This is the stuff that King Arthur stories are made of. 🙂
After you leave Fitzalan Chapel, you proceed up the hill some more to the Arundel Castle Garden, from which you get a view not only of a gorgeous garden, but also of the Arundel Cathedral:
The photo above shows you the scale: not only how huge the cathedral is, but also how huge the garden is. The little grass maze above was only one part of the garden. It was huge.
We did go in the cathedral. It’s huge and amazing and you could feel the Holy Spirit there. But we toured the garden for a long time as well, and saw such sights as:
And we got there right at the tail end of tulip season…
And here is the front wall of the cathedral:
There are too many photos for one blog post, but you can see more over on my Facebook page as I add them.
Our day at Arundel Castle was one of the biggest highlights of our trip to London. It’s a magnificent building in a magnificent setting that has been restored and cared for REALLY well. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, be sure you stop by!
Check back later this week for more London adventures!