"Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd."
Philip Larkin, An Arundel Tomb
The historic town of Arundel is entirely dominated by its hilltop castle. Lying in the valley of the River Arun, this little town is full of character and visitors will find themselves beguiled by its medieval charm. Once the site of a busy port, Arundel is now a premier tourist attraction in Sussex and a designated conservation area.
Idyllic Arundel was founded soon after the 11th century Norman Conquest. It now boasts one of the finest castles in Britain which overlooks the River Arun and the ruins of a Dominican Friary. First built for Norman baron, Robert de Montgomery in 1067, Arundel Castle has been the ancestral home of the Dukes of Norfolk for some 850 years. Indeed, much of town's wealth and attraction is easily attributed to this prestigious family. Beautiful Arundel Cathedral was built by Henry, the 15th Duke of Norfolk and the marvellous Arundel Castle Cricket ground, (formerly the Dukes' private playing field) was opened to the public in 1975. Other beautiful places for which you can give thanks to the good ol' Dukes of Norfolk are the lovely Arundel Park and the remains of Blackfriars Friary.
Arundel boasts another unique sight " the only two-in-one church in England. The Church of St Nicholas is the local Anglican parish which is entered via London Road. However, this house of worship is soldered to the Roman Catholic Fitzalan Chapel which lies at the border of the castle grounds. The two churches are housed in the same building separated only by an iron grille and a glass screen.
The remains of a 13th century Dominican Friary, Blackfriars was probably founded by Isabel, the Countess of Arundel. Built on a prime location by the river crossing, market and port, the monks would have had easy access to their flock. The remains are mysterious. Archaeologists have yet to determine the function of the south and east range of the buildings. It has been surmised that the church was in the north range. The Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 led to the Friary being used for commercial purposes with the west range being used as malt house and the south range serving as a timber yard. In 1894, Mill Road was laid out cutting across the historic site. The remains you see here today were a gift to the town in 1935 by the 16th Duke of Norfolk.
Arundel Park, Riverside Tea Gardens and Swanbourne Lake Row Boats
A great place to relax after some busy sightseeing, Arundel Park comprises over 1200 acres of open downland. It's lined with public footpaths and you may see hikers making their way along the South Downs Way. Within its borders you'll find a former mill pond known as Swanbourne Lake which is now home to a variety of wildfowl. This and the surrounding land was purchased by the Duke of Norfolk in 1787 and formed part of the Arundel Park. Visitors can hire row boats and paddle around Swanbourne Lake or hire a self-drive motorboat and tour the River Arun. If that's all too energetic for you, just take a cruise or grab a cup of tea at the Riverside Tea Gardens.
Address: Arundel Boatyard, Mill Road, Arundel, West Sussex, England, UK, BN18 9PA.
Telephone: 01903 882609
Arundel Castle Cricket Club
Located near Arundel Castle, this cricket ground which offers views over the Weald is one of the most beautiful to be found anywhere in Britain. The grounds were built by the 15th Duke of Norfolk in 1895 and first opened to the public in 1975. One popular annual event is the Duke of Norfolk's XI versus international visitors. There are also other matches throughout the cricket season.
Address: The Cricket Office, Arundel Park, Arundel, West Sussex, England, UK, BN18 9LH.
Telephone: 01903 882462
Priory Playhouse Theatre
Originally part of the priory, the building is now home to the dramatic society and one of the Arundel Festival venues. The Arundel Players is a theatrical company that has leased the Priory since 1977. Before this period, the actors had no home base to work from and it was only with the help of the Duchess of Norfolk that they were granted the lease. A work of love, the dilapidated building was refurbished with hours of voluntary work and the generous sponsorship of members and other theatrical companies. The Arundel Players are now able to put on five productions a year.
Address: London Road, Arundel, West Sussex, England, UK, BN18 9FA.
Telephone: 01903 883345
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