I’m ashamed to say that, despite having been to Arundel several times (it’s only about 45 minutes from Brighton), we’d never visited the castle until earlier this year. It’s now firmly on our list of favourite Sussex places, as we spent a brilliant day there this summer. I was worried it might be a bit dry and historical for Kitty, or the Queen of Spain as she had decided to be that day (check out the flamenco dress), but she loved it. Alfie is history fanatic, so he was in his element, particularly because of the Tudor connections. There were plenty of interesting objects to look for around the castle itself – the staff were absolutely brilliant at asking the children to search things out – plus the gardens are just amazing. It’s also well worth climbing the 131 steps to the top of The Keep for the stunning views over the Downs, the river and the sea. The children loved running around and playing hide and seek in the stumpery (where tree stumps replace rocks) and marvelling at the seemingly magic crown fountain, plus there is oodles of space for picnics and lazing.
The castle plays host to lots of events and there was a re-entactment of a siege on the day we visited. Featuring lots of archery and shouting, it was great fun, but a little loud for Kitty, so she and I wandered around to look at the living history stalls featuring traditional crafts and domestic situations – she was most taken by the idea of a baby being wheeled around in a little wooden cart! We took a picnic as it was a lovely day, but there’s a great cafe and a good gift shop, packed with history themed goodies. Alfie was very pleased with his purchase of a wooden axe, while Kitty came away with a plush ‘mouse’ (I’m pretty sure it’s a rat). You could easily spend the entire day here and still not have seen everything, particularly if there’s a show or event happening, so I’d recommend getting here early. The Normans and Crusaders event during half term looks like great fun.
Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AB. Tickets from £9 (under fives go free). Open until 30 October, then closed until 25 March: 10am-5pm.