A Day Trip from London: Exploring Arundel Castle
Seeking a day trip from the bustling city of London? Why not hop on the train. In under two hours from the capital, you could be exploring Arundel Castle, an historic estate, castle and gardens in the scenic West Sussex countryside.
Built at the end of the 11th century by the Earl of Arundel, the castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for 850 years!
Exploring Arundel Castle History:
- King Henry II built most of the oldest stone part of the castle
- Third Duke of Norfolk was uncle to both Anne Boleyn and Catharine Howard, two of Henry VIII wives
- The 4th Duke of Norfolk was beheaded for plotting to marry Mary Queen of Scots
- Portraits by Gainsborough, Van Dyck, Canaletto and the personal possessions of Mary Queen of Scots
- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited in 1846
- Restoration by Henry the 15th Duke of Norfolk was completed in 1900
- Filming location for Dr. Who, The Madness of King George, The Young Victoria
- The Collector Earl’s Garden was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 2008
Arundel castle was fully restored in the late 1800’s by Henry, the 15th Duke of Norfolk and it’s still in remarkable condition. I was really surprised at the condition of castles interior and exterior. With the exception of a few older bits, the castle appears to be fully restored and remodeled, almost like a film set.
Be aware you’ll need to climb some very steep and narrow stairs to access the castle Keep and some of the rooms, so leave your stilettos at home! In fact as you’ll be walking through gardens, a good pair of walking shoes could be just the ticket.
We opted for a Silver admission which allows entrance to the Castle Keep, Gardens and Fitzalan Chapel and of course the gift shop and restaurant. If you really want to see more of the castle then there’s another level of ticket which gives access to more of the interior rooms.
For additional ticket information and opening times, check here.
Castle and grounds are open from April 1 to October 29 (in 2023)
- Castle gardens are open 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Castle rooms are open 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
- Closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays and August (except closed on the King’s coronation on May 6 but open May 8, 2023)
- Castle & Gardens Ticket Price: £25
Arundel Castle and Gardens
Once you’ve paid your entrance fee at the street level entrance to the castle, you’ll walk up to the castle. Once inside, Arundel castle Keep can easily take 2-3 hours to peruse and browse. Again the stairs up to the keep can be very steep and winding.
There’s a cafe and shop inside the castle if you want to grab a coffee or tea.
Once you’ve finished your tour of the castle, head back out and watch for signage to the gardens.
The Collectors Earl’s Garden was very impressive. A light hearted tribute to the 14th Earl of Arundel, it was overflowing with tropical flowers, fountains and elaborately carved oak obelisks. Absolutely magical.
The gardens lie tucked behind the 14th century Fitzalan chapel where the Dukes of Norfolk rest in splendour. One infamous Duke who died in battle at a very young age is depicted in life and death below as a skeleton with shroud.
Getting to Arundel:
BY TRAIN: If you’re coming from London, you’ll depart from London Victoria station.
During the week trains leave about every half hour and are direct (no changes). The direct train takes about an hour and twenty minutes. Easy peasy. Buy your tickets on Trainline, collect at the station and you’re on your way.
Arundel is a small train station. As you’re walking out the front of the station turn to your right and take the path that leads under the main road above. After you go under the overpass, you’ll be walking alongside the main road into the town of Arundel. Look for signs for Town Centre and plan on 15 minutes. Once you walk over the River Arun bridge, you’ll see the castle on your right. Can’t miss it.
BY CAR: From Gatwick Airport, the most direct route is the M23 to A23 to A27 which dips down to the coast and Brighton. Expect about an hours drive depending on traffic.
Leave time to explore the pretty town of Arundel itself with it’s many options for shopping, browsing and eating.
Recommend: Black Rabbit Pub Arundel
If you’re ready for a lovely lunch in the country on the banks of the River Arun, then continue down Mill road to the right of the castle to the Black Rabbit Pub.
Continue on Mill Road (or at the next bridge cross over and take a path to the right towards the river. It’s a bit shorter but can be quite muddy so be prepared). 25 minutes later (it’s about 1.25 miles) you’ll be at the Black Rabbit pub.
Believe it or not, our customs officer at Gatwick recommended it! Wonderful setting on the river and a really lovely pub with yummy food. Worth the walk!
If you have time before your train departs, explore the charming town of Arundel and explore it’s many antique shops and cafes. Follow the same road back to the station and relax for your ride back to London Victoria in time for dinner, if you have any room after your lunch at the Black Rabbit! Why not make a plan to stay here for a more relaxing trip, there’s so much to see and do! The nearest large town is Portsmouth which is a famous naval harbor.
Stay a little longer to explore the Sussex coastline which is just 20 minutes drive away! Book a hotel or cozy B&B.
Love English castles? So do I! Why not plan another day trip from London- this one is just about an hours train ride away and you’ll absolutely have a fabulous time. Lovely Hever Castle in Kent, childhood home to Anne Boleyn also has a fabulous garden and moated castle.