All’s well that’s Arundel

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My parents are taking a break in the West Sussex area at the mo, so I caught the train to Arundel yesterday to meet them. It’s only 80 mins from Clapham Junction and costs £20 for a day return ticket. I thought this was great value. And it’s a really interesting place to visit: it’s a historic town with a fascinating (honestly!) Norman castle and other attractions, set in the countryside, with fine dining and drinking places to lure you, too.

See my photos here.

With Norman origins dating from 1067, Arundel Castle is one of England’s longest inhabited country houses and is home to the Dukes of Norfolk, who also fulfil the hereditary office of Earl Marshal of England, responsible for arranging coronations and funerals for heads of state. Closely connected with the royal family, traces of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s visit of 1846 are still very apparent, including the bed that took two years to ‘make’.

The castle’s 130 feet long Baron’s Hall was used in the film-set for The Young Victoria, representing a nineteenth century Windsor Castle banquet hall. Arundel Castle has served as a filming location for many films and TV productions including The Madness of King George, Henry VIII and Victoria and Albert, given the inability to film in palaces where royalty live.

It’s in immaculate condition for an ancient castle too; different parts have been re-developed or re-built over the centuries. A climb to the Norman Keep exposes you to the elements and offers spectacular views over the West Sussex countryside, while the ante library and library rooms are, surprisingly, the most awe-inspiring. The ante library contains black lacquer furniture bearing the most exquisite, oriental designs from the 1700s. The library, from around 1800, houses ten thousand books including a late fourteenth century Nuremberg Bible. An important Gothic room, its red, pink and gold patterned carpet is a replica of that made for Queen Victoria’s 1846 visit, in her favourite colours. It may not catch on at Ikea but it doesn’t look out of place today.

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