If you’re visiting Arundel, you may be happy enough to browse the shops and eat at some of the wonderful eateries. But with so much to do in and around the town, here are a few ideas to help fill a day or two in this historic town.
At the bottom of the town, next to the main car park, the river and opposite the gates to the castle is the town’s museum. It’s not a big museum but it’s packed to the rafters with interesting things and will take you on a journey back in time to the first beginnings of Arundel as a settlement. It’s also currently got an exhibition about the story of a USA Liberator Bomber and a German Junker that crashed in Arundel during WWII.
Take a boat trip
Behind the museum and accessed from the car park, you can take a trip down the river. Waterside Café run hour-long boat trips up the River Arun to the Black Rabbit.
You can’t visit Arundel and not visit the castle which opens for the season on the 1 April. With a history that dates back to the Norman invasion, there is a vast banqueting hall, a Norman Keep, a Medieval gatehouse and a Barbican. The castle also houses tapestries and a rare collection of paintings by renowned artists including Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto.
A dip at the Lido
Arundel has lots of wonderful cafés and restaurants so if you want to burn a few calories before you indulge, head to the Lido. Arundel Lido is the only remaining Lido in West Sussex and includes a 25m main pool with a 5m entry area, grass surrounds for picnics and a small paddling pool too. And the good news is that it’s heated.
Wetlands and wildlife
From the museum and car park head north past Swanbourne Lake to the Arundel Wetland Centre. They have a visitor centre and shop, along with lots of hides and boardwalks around the 65-acre site. There’s a fantastically diverse wildlife population here including kingfishers, birds of prey, and much, much more.
The Farmers Market
On the 3rd Saturday of every month, you’ll find Arundel Farmers Market in situ in the centre of town. It’s got everything you want from honey and bakes to meats and eggs and some ceramics and woodcraft too. Nearly all of the stalls are very local (who doesn’t love the sound of South Downs honey), with just a couple of stalls from further afield.
Lots of festivals
Arundel has a fabulous calendar of festivals, starting in April with the Tulip Festival in the grounds of the castle. Thousands of brightly coloured flowers representing hundreds of varieties welcome in the spring under the watchful eye of the cathedral. It’s simply stunning. If you miss the tulips, you could catch a jousting tournament in June or head back to the town in August for the annual Arundel Festival which includes street performances, music trails, and food and drink. Finally, before the year is out, return once more for the “Arundel at Christmas” programme which runs throughout the whole of December.
Antiques and crafts
Arundel is famed for its many boutiques and antique shops that line the main street and spill into Tarrant Street and what better way to pass a few hours than to rummage around in these. Don’t miss Nineveh House (formerly a church built in the 1830s) on Tarrant Street where you’ll find art, craft and collectables, or the Printing Works Arcade a little further down.
You can’t miss Arundel Cathedral which stands watch over the town. Designed by architect, Joseph Aloysius Hansom, in the late 17th century, it wasn’t completed until 1873. It didn’t become a cathedral until 1965 and is now Grade I listed and widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the country.
Lovely walks in stunning surroundings
There is some fabulous walking to be had in and around Arundel, particularly in Arundel Park. From the centre of town, walk north west past the cathedral until you come to the entrance to the park and the Monarch’s Way footpath. For a short walk (about 3 km) walk into the park and up to the distinctive Hiorne Tower. You can’t miss it as it’s a rather impressive Grade II Listed building, designed and built c1787 in Gothic revival style with three octagonal corner turrets made in flint and stone chequer-work with pointed and mullioned windows.
From here, bear right and you’ll see a fantastic valley below you that has a touch of the Lorna Doone about it. Follow the path and double back around the edge of Swanbourne Lake and then back to the gates of the castle along the road. Or just keep following the paths of the park and see where it takes you. There are some heady views to be had from the hilltops of the park, the town, and beyond.
If it’s tours of the town that you’re after, check out Arundel’s postman, AKA Martin Tourman, who does a series of brilliantly informative walking tours of the town (you’ll find him on Instagram).
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