- Explore the medieval history of this fascinating castle on one of the guided tours.
- Discover the beautiful Arundel Castle gardens, with flowers blooming throughout the year.
- Dress up as a knight or royalty in the museum at The Keep.
- Walk in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, and see her room from her visit in the 19th century.
Situated in the West Sussex countryside, Arundel Castle is a medieval building that is just waiting to be explored. With 1,000 years of history within its walls, Arundel is a haven for history lovers and adventurers alike. With so much to see and do, there's something for every member of the family when they spend the day at Arundel Castle.
The castle dates back to 1068 when the motte or artificial hill was constructed by Roger de Montgomery, the first Earl of Arundel. The motte was shortly followed by the gatehouse a couple of years later, and then the castle, where Roger de Montgomery remained the owner until his death. Throughout the years, Arundel Castle had significant ties to the crown and was an important location in many battles and historical events throughout the years. From the death of the Earl of Arundel back in the 12th century until the present day, Arundel Castle has been passed down through the generations, mainly through the male heir line, but there were also a couple of female heiresses including Isabel d'Aubigny in the 1200s, and Mary FitzAlan in the 16th century. Throughout the medieval period, various additions were created to extend the castle, such as a well tower added by Richard FitzAlan (who inherited the Earldom at only five years old!), various restructuring, and reconstructing of the keep. In the mid-16th century, Mary FitzAlan married Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, and from then on the castle remained in the Howard family name. A powerful family in the Tudor times, with famous members that include Catherine Howard and Anna Boleyn, both wives of Henry VIII, the Howards retained ownership of Arundel Castle for hundreds of years. Now, the castle still holds the Howard family name and is the seat of Edward FitzAlan-Howard, the 18th Duke of Norfolk.
Arundel Castle survived many significant events throughout history, including the English Civil War, in which 10,000 royalists took shelter within the castle's walls. After an 18-day siege they were forced to surrender, and the castle was later slighted, or intentionally damaged to decrease value, by Parliament in 1653. Luckily, the castle didn't lie in ruin for long, and restorations began at the hands of the 11th Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard, in 1787. As the castle was intended as his primary home, many elements were added, including the Folly you can still see on the hill, designed by Francis Hiorne to show off his skills as an architect. Various remodelling and reconstruction of the castle happened through the years, but Arundel's medieval roots are still clearly visible today.
Inside Arundel Castle, there are many relics and significant objects that pay testament to the castle's long and colourful history. From beautiful furniture and ornaments to paintings by the likes of Canaletto, Van Dyck and Gainsborough, Arundel is home to many treasures and artefacts. There are also many elaborately decorated rooms, including the specially commissioned furniture that was designed for Queen Victoria's visit to Arundel in 1846. This royal visit was incredibly important to the 13th Earl of Norfolk, Henry Charles Howard, who went to great lengths to prepare the castle to receive the Queen and her husband, Prince Albert. Film fans will recognise Arundel and the castle gardens from their feature in the period film starring Emily Blunt, 'The Young Victoria'. The Queen was apparently very impressed with her visit and wrote to say how beautiful the castle was. Now, you can view the bed she slept in, as well as a guest book that contains her signature.
After this visit, the castle was again remodelled, and along with the gardens that were recently improved by head gardener Martin Duncan, Arundel Castle and Gardens is now one of the most popular locations for visitors to the South Downs. If the history of this fascinating castle has intrigued you and you'd like to walk in the footsteps of the medieval Earl of Arundel or Queen Victoria, Arundel is open to visitors throughout the year, with guided tours where you can explore the beautiful castle buildings as well as the famous Arundel Castle gardens.
The gardens at Arundel Castle are also part of what makes up the castle's charm. From the beautiful rose gardens to the walled kitchen garden that dates back to the 1800s, there is much to explore for lovers of flowers and nature. The Collector Earl's Garden is a new garden that was established in 2008 to honour the 14th Earl of Arundel, and had previously been used as a car park! Every year there is also a tulip festival at the castle when over 80,000 tulips bloom into colour all over the grounds. In the gardens, you'll also find a flower maze, formal gardens and glasshouses, as well as seasonal flowers that bloom at different times of the year.
On the grounds, you will find the medieval Fitzalan Chapel, named so after the FitzAlan family that occupied the castle, a name that lives on to their current descendants who live at Arundel to this day. While after damage during the civil war the Chapel fell into neglect, it has now been restored and can be explored on your visit to Arundel. Far from a small, modest building, the Chapel features beautiful stained glass windows and impressive architecture and is not to be missed as you wander the grounds.
The interior of the castle itself is also worth having a look around. As well as the Victorian and Edwardian bedrooms that are open for viewing, you'll also find staterooms that were created to receive and entertain company, especially for members of the nobility. Here you'll find the beautifully decorated Drawing Room, as well as the Barons' Hall and Regency library, all popular locations for the Dukes of Norfolk to entertain their guests. To travel a little further back in time, make sure to check out the Keep, which has been an important element of Arundel Castle since the 11th century. The medieval defences are also popular for kids who love learning about stories of knights and princesses, and on your trip, you can take a look at the portcullis, gates, drawbridge and towers.
Kids are also bound to love the Inner Gatehouse, as this is the spot where they can try on medieval outfits and dress up! From trying out knight outfits and chain mail, to dressing up as kings or queens and trying their hand at holding medieval weapons, kids are bound to love learning more about the medieval history of Arundel. In this area, you can also see the rooms that were built for Empress Matilda on her visit to the castle in 1139, and check out the inventive waxwork displays! The Armoury is also a top place for kids who are fascinated by history, as you'll find saddles that are half a millennium old, as well as swords, shields, and many other old weapons.
There are also plenty of events that take place at Arundel Castle throughout the year, including medieval battle re-enactments, seasonal activities, and the tulip festival in the grounds. The '15th Century Raiders' event is a popular one with families, as not only can you see how a castle would have been raided (with the help of 100 costumed actors!) but also take part in some crafts, workshops and activities that will help the whole family learn what life was like 600 years ago.
For something to eat on your visit, Arundel gardens are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic if you happen to have the weather on your side, and there are picnic benches around the grounds. Alternatively, bring a blanket and sit among the flowers! Or, in what used to be the Servants’ Hall, you'll find the Arundel cafe and restaurant, where you can enjoy everything from a tasty snack to a classic Arundel Castle afternoon tea. All the food is freshly made at Arundel, so is great for if you get a little peckish. Just a five-minute walk from the castle itself is the town of Arundel, where you can also enjoy some local food at one of the bars, cafes or restaurants. In the town, you'll also find places to stay, and shops to explore if you feel like venturing further afield after your trip to the castle.
If you and your family had a blast visiting Arundel Castle and are keen to explore more of West Sussex and its history, make sure to plan a visit to Bignor Roman Villa and Museum in Pulborough on your next trip. Or, for even more discoverey, explore Bignor Roman Villa and Museum, a Roman ruin that will mesmerise history buffs.
What to know before you go
- Arundel Castle opening times are from Tuesday-Sunday. The gardens are open from 10am-4pm, and the castle itself is open from 12pm-4pm. Last entry is 3pm.
- Please note that the castle is still used as an official residence, so it is not always open.
- Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are available on site.
- There are lifts throughout the buildings to allow access, and the gardens have wide paths that are suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.
- Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the grounds unless they are registered Assistance Dogs.
- Arundel Castle is located in the town of Arundel, West Sussex, and can be reached by car via the A284 or the A27.
- Mill Road is a pay and display car park, opposite the castle entrance.
- The nearest train station is Arundel Station, which is approximately a 10-minute walk away. From here, there are good connections to Southern England and London.