Reviewed by Katie Allen
I’ve often admired the turrets and battlements of Arundel Castle whilst driving along the South Coast and last year we finally went inside the walls to attend their Tulip Festival which was stunning. I’ve never been inside the castle though and I was intrigued as to what lies beneath the thick stone walls.
My daughter and I were gifted Gold Plus tickets which gave us access to the Castle Bedrooms as well as the main castle rooms, the Keep, the Fitzalan Chapel and the gardens and grounds. We chose to visit on a “Norman Knights Tournament” day which was free to attend with a Gardens and Grounds ticket.
We used the pay and display car park opposite the castle and paid £5 for 4+ hours which I didn’t think was too bad for its location. As soon as we got out of the car we were greeted by medieval music which really set the scene for our day. We picked up our tickets and headed in.
The Norman Knights stalls were set up and getting ready for their day so we made our way around the event noting which bits we wanted to see later. My daughter was really interested in the storytelling and I was keen to have our picnic while we watch the tournament and the falconry display.
We then made our way up to the castle itself and to the 12th Century Keep which opened at 10am. We loved the spiral stairwells and hidden rooms and alleyways. My daughter especially enjoyed seeing the rooms set up as they would have looked and it prompted lots of questions from her. There were opportunities for her to dress up in period costume which she didn’t partake in but I thought it was a nice touch. The view from the top of the Keep was breath-taking – you could even see the sea in the distance.
We climbed the 131 steps up to the Keep and back down again and soon it was time for the storytelling and the other Norman Knights events. After lunch we headed back into the Castle to see the main rooms and bedrooms. I especially liked the opulent, velvet-adorned library and the dining room which was all set up for a fancy banquet. The bedrooms on the very top level were only for Gold Plus ticket holders (you can upgrade on the spot if you change your mind) and we could see half a dozen of them from behind a velvet rope. I would say unless you’re very interested in historic interior design then the extra £2 probably isn’t worth it.
The gardens are the main draw here and they are spectacular. From the wild meadows to the more formal rose garden to the stumpery, the kitchen garden and the glass houses there’s something for everyone. You could easily spend all day getting lost in the grounds and there are plenty of spots for picnicking and relaxing in the sunshine (despite the event it never felt overrun with people).
So, if you’re into beautiful gardens in a tranquil spot and can time your visit with an attraction such as the Norman Knights tournament I would recommend. We were fully entertained all day – not leaving until 16:30 and I’m keen to go back.
Tickets cost from £11 to £55
For more information or to purchase tickets online visit arundelcastle.org.
Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AB | 01903 882173