Thursday, October 06, 2011

Arundel Castle on the Hottest Day in October

Last Saturday was not only the hottest day ever recorded in October, but it was also the third warmest day of the year. In fact, we had a nice stretch of uninterrupted sunshine and warmth for nearly a week! It was simply brilliant. With the temperature soaring to 84F on an unseasonably warm October afternoon, most people made a beeline to the southern beaches of Brighton, Bournemouth, and Weymouth, however, Keenan and I had other plans in mind: a visit to the historic Arundel Castle.

Until a few months ago, I have never heard of Arundel Castle. Warwick Castle, sure. Leeds Castle, of course. Arundel? Where's that? 

Located in West Sussex on the River Arun, just a 45 minute train ride from London Victoria, Arundel Castle is a historic medieval castle founded in 1067 by Roger de Montgomery as a fortress to protect invaders approaching from the English Channel. Since the 11th century, Arundel Castle has been the stately home and the principal seat of the Duke of Norfolk and his family for over 850 years. This meticulously restored castle is open to visitors from April to October, and is equally as impressive as the Royal Windsor Castle.

The property itself sits on a hilltop with 40 acres of land with several beautifully manicured gardens and sweeping view of West Sussex. We spent a good hour walking through the lavish garden. The trees gave a nice respite from the warm autumn heat as we made our way to the Collector Earl's Garden, a lovely memorial garden built in 2008 to honor Thomas Howard, the 14th Earl of Arundel who died in exile during the English Civil War. We then went to explore the interior of the castle, namely the Castle Keep and Castle Bedrooms, which contained old bedroom furniture, paintings from Van Dyck, china, and tapestries.  

After spending a good part of the afternoon admiring the architectural beauty and exquisite gardens of Arundel Castle, we walked about a mile up on Mill Road to a great riverside pub recommended by a work colleague called the Black Rabbit for an alfresco lunch and iced-cold pint. Being one of the hottest day of the year, the pub was packed with local families and day-trippers who were enjoying the gentle breeze and amazing views of Arundel castle in the distance and pastoral landscapes of West Sussex. Of course, it was also an opportunity bask in the sun and stock up on some vitamin D before the long winter hibernation. Highly recommend Arundel Castle as an easy half-day trip from London.

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