West Sussex

Arundel Castle
Home of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 600 years. The castle looks like a Gothic fairy tale. Well, it is, in a sense, but much of the “fairy tale” was created in the 19th century. The heart of Arundel is pure Norman, however, including the keep with the small chamber that was Queen Maud’s first home when she made her bid for the throne of England.

Home of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 600 years. The castle looks like a Gothic fairy tale. Well, it is, in a sense, but much of the “fairy tale” was created in the 19th century. The heart of Arundel is pure Norman, however, including the keep with the small chamber that was Queen Maud’s first home when she made her bid for the throne of England.

History
The story of Arundel is inextricably linked with the tale of two families, the Fitzalans and the Howards, but it was the Norman lord Roger de Montgomery who built the first castle here about 1068. Montgomery chose a rise overlooking the River Arun to erect a 100 foot high motte protected by a dry moat.

Civil War
When Henry I died in 1135 the crown should have passed to his daughter Matilda (Maud). However, Maud was abroad in France and crown was seized by Stephen of Blois. Queen Maud hurried back from France, and the first place she stayed was Arundel.

It was left to William d’Albini II to build the keep atop the motte in the mid-12th century. Albini was subsequently named Earl of Arundel by Maud’s son, Henry II. The estate passed down the female line from the Albinis to the Fitzalans, and then to the Howards, who still own Arundel today.

Architecture
Like Windsor, Arundel Castle consists of two wards separated by a stone keep atop a high motte. The keep is 12th century, built shortly after Queen Maud stayed at Arundel. The remainder of the domestic ranges are almost entirely the result of 18th and 19th century rebuilding. Very little of the 18th century work remains save for the grand Gothic library installed by the 11th Duke of Norfolk.

The rest is the work of the 15th Duke, and dates to 1875. The Duke and his chief architect, Charles Buckler, created an idealised version of medieval Gothic fantasy; a style aimed at capturing the spirit of the medieval period rather than copying its form precisely. The 15th Duke is also responsible for much of the remarkable collection of 16th and 17th century furniture that fills the state rooms. Apart from the furniture, the walls are hung with a wonderful series of portraits dating back to the 16th century, including works by Gainsborough, Van Dyck, and Lely.

Fitzalan Chapel
The chapel stands within the grounds of Arundel Castle and has been the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk since 1390. One end of the chapel building serves as the parish church of Arundel and can be accessed from outside the castle walls. Its a bit of an odd marriage of convenience, for the chapel, like the Howards, is Catholic, while the parish church is, of course, Anglican. The chapel buildings that we can see today are the remnants of a college of secular canons founded by the 4th Earl of Arundel in 1380 by a grant of Richard II. When the college was dissolved by Henry VIII the 12th Earl purchased the buildings from the crown.

Directly before the altar is the tomb of the 5th Earl, but perhaps the most impressive of the memorials is the extraordinary Gothic memorial to the 10th, 11th, and 12th Earls, with an exquisitely carved canopy and pediment protecting brass memorial plaques.

Our verdict: Wow! Arundel Castle rises like a fantasy fortress above the historic town centre (though to be fair, from some angles the cathedral actually seems to dwarf the castle – no mean feat!) I foolishly thought we could zip through Arundel Castle in a couple of hours and go on to somewhere else. Ha! Not a chance. There is so much to see that you could easily spend at least a half day exploring the castle, chapel, and gardens. The gardens alone repay relaxed enjoyment, and the chapel is simply wonderful (though I do wish they allowed photography so I could share images of the amazing Howard tombs, but that’s another story).

Our family hugely enjoyed the castle itself; the older parts where full of interesting nooks and crannies that the kids enjoyed, and the state rooms in the Victorian castle were chock full of fabulous artwork. It was impossible to rush, there was so much to see. We very much enjoyed our visit.

Arundel Museum
A museum of local history ranging from pre-historic and Roman artefacts to the present day. The museum is run mainly by enthusiastic volunteers and is located in a new, state-of-the-art facility.

A museum of local history ranging from pre-historic and Roman artefacts to the present day. The museum is run mainly by enthusiastic volunteers and is located in a new, state-of-the-art facility.

The museum is organised around a chronological history of the town, including a history of the River Arun, blacksmithing, clock-making, and horse-racing. Many items are on open display (not in cases).

The museum has published two leaflets of interest to visitors, detailing self-guided walks, one in the heart of historic Arundel, the other exploring the outskirts of the town. The museum also organizes guided tours during the spring and summer seasons, including themes such as Medieval Arundel, The Port of Arundel, and Ghosts, Murders and Mysteries of Old Arundel.

Facilities include a shop, a few refreshments, and tourist information. For families, there is a Museum Detective challenge, as well as family-friendly events.

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Arundel Cathedral
A Victorian Gothic (Catholic) cathedral in French Gothic style, immediately beside Arundel Castle. The Cathedral was begun by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk, in 1868, to serve as a Catholic parish church for Arundel. It was completed in 1873.

A Victorian Gothic (Catholic) cathedral in French Gothic style, immediately beside Arundel Castle. The Cathedral was begun by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk, in 1868, to serve as a Catholic parish church for Arundel. It was completed in 1873.

The Duke employed as his architect Joseph Hansom, inventor of the Hansom cab. While this might seem an odd choice, Hansom carried out his brief brilliantly, creating a soaring church faced with Bath stone.

The Duke wanted a church to rival his own magnificent castle, and Hansom obliged, creating one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival style in England, with slender clusters of pillars rising to beautifully vaulted ceilings soaring high overhead.

The original design called for a spire over the north porch, but this idea was never carried out, leaving the church with a rather peculiar outline. The most striking feature of the cathedral is the west front, with a huge rose window filled with colourful stained glass.

St Philip Howard
The cathedral was originally dedicated to St Philip Neri, then in 1965 this was extended to Our Lady and St Philip when the church was raised to cathedral status, and finally, in 1973 the recently canonised St Philip Howard was added to the dedication. Howard was the 20th Earl of Arundel, a Catholic recusant who was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Elizabeth I and died of dysentery there in 1595.

He was buried first at the Tower, then reburied in the Fitzalan Chapel in the castle grounds. Finally, in 1971 he was reburied again, inside the cathedral, where you can see his memorial, with a sculpture of his faithful dog, who kept him company throughout his decade-long stay in the Tower.

Arundel Wildfowl and Wetland Centre
The Wildfowl and Wetland Centre features 26 acres of wetland habitat just outside the historic village of Arundel. The centre is set beside the River Arun, in beautiful woodland. The site is a mixture of woodland, reedbeds, and lake habitat.

The Wildfowl and Wetland Centre features 26 acres of wetland habitat just outside the historic village of Arundel. The centre is set beside the River Arun, in beautiful woodland. The site is a mixture of woodland, reedbeds, and lake habitat.

Free electric boat excursions offer visitors an easy way to experience the wildfowl habitat at first hand in the company of an experienced guide. There is also a Wetlands Discovery area where you can see the flora and fauna of the centre up close.

Among the unusual varieties at Arundel is a pair of breeding Blue Ducks, the only such pair outside of New Zealand. Visitors can also hand feed the rarest goose in the world!

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Tortington, St Mary Magdalene
A delightful little rural church, built for the lay tenants of Tortington Priory. The church dates to the 12th century and retains some very nice Norman features, including a beautifully carved Norman doorway.

A delightful little rural church, built for the lay tenants of Tortington Priory. The church dates to the 12th century and retains some very nice Norman features, including a beautifully carved Norman doorway.

Tortington Priory was founded by Hadwissa Corbett sometime in the 12th century as a house of Augustinian canons. Interestingly, Tortington appears to have been used as a place where troublesome canons were sent – a sort of house of monastic correction!

The interior features a highly decorated Norman chancel arch, replete with likenesses of fearsome birds and grimacing faces. The font is of 12th-century date, again highly carved with decorative motifs. It was apparently broken in two at some point and then re-joined again.

The south nave arcade is 13th century and leads to a south aisle added at that time. The crown-posts supporting the nave roof may also be 13th-century survivors. There is a 15th-century bench in the south aisle and a simple Jacobean pulpit.

The most modern touch in the church are colourful stained glass windows made by the popular Kempe studio around 1896. St Mary Magdalene is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

North Stoke, St Mary’s Church
The ancient parish church of North Stoke stands beside the River Arun, in a rural setting of great charm. The cruciform building has been essentially unaltered since the medieval period and is an excellent example of a simple country church.

The ancient parish church of North Stoke stands beside the River Arun, in a rural setting of great charm. The cruciform building has been essentially unaltered since the medieval period and is an excellent example of a simple country church.

The interior features some very nice medieval glass; in the east window is a 14th-century panel depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, and there is further 14th-century glass in the low windows of the chancel and the east window in the north transept. There are sections of 14th-century wall paintings above the chancel arch and in niches to either side.

There are two 13th-century aumbreys, a pair of 13th-century piscinae, and the font is also 13th century. Of a similar date is the three-arched sedilia in the sanctuary. The corbels flanking the east window are worth noting; these probably date from the middle of the 13th century and boast very fine carved foliage and small heads.

More fine carvings can be found on the west wall, including a carved hand and a depiction of a sheep.

St Mary’s is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, who keep it open daily.

Littlehampton Museum
Located in an imposing 18th-century manor house in central Littlehampton, the Littlehampton Museum showcases local artists and craftspeople and explores the history of the Littlehampton area. There are collections of archaeology, maritime history, and photography.

Located in an imposing 18th-century manor house in central Littlehampton, the Littlehampton Museum showcases local artists and craftspeople and explores the history of the Littlehampton area. There are collections of archaeology, maritime history, and photography.

There is also an ongoing programme of changing exhibits and special educational activities throughout the year.

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Amberley Working Museum
An open-air museum dedicated to the industrial heritage of south-east England. The museum covers 36 acres of exhibits, ranging from transportation to traditional crafts. Visitors can see craftspeople working at their trades, including pottery, blacksmithing, broom-making, and walking stick making.

An open-air museum dedicated to the industrial heritage of south-east England. The museum covers 36 acres of exhibits, ranging from transportation to traditional crafts. Visitors can see craftspeople working at their trades, including pottery, blacksmithing, broom-making, and walking stick making.

Among the highlights of the collection are the Southdown bus collection, wireless radio, a narrow gauge railway, print workshop, ironmongers shop, brickhouse, wheelwright shop, machine shop, and much more.

There is an ongoing programme of special events and educational activities aimed at giving the younger generation an appreciation of traditional crafts and trades.

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Denman’s Garden
A magnificent 4-acre garden in beautiful West Sussex countryside. Though small in size, Denman’s Garden features innovative use of plant size, shape, texture, and colour to present a horticultural delight at any season. One of Denman’s more innovative ideas is the use of gravel in pathways and garden beds to outline plants and link garden areas.

A magnificent 4-acre garden in beautiful West Sussex countryside. Though small in size, Denman’s Garden features innovative use of plant size, shape, texture, and colour to present a horticultural delight at any season. One of Denman’s more innovative ideas is the use of gravel in pathways and garden beds to outline plants and link garden areas.

The garden was originally set about a manor house. From that manor garden comes the current walled garden, now planted with herbs, and a conservatory for tender plants. There is a cafe and a garden centre on site, and Denman’s offers a bespoke garden design service.

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Parham House and Gardens
Parham is an Elizabethan H-shaped house featuring its original rooms and furnishings, as well as Jacobean additions. The most interesting feature at Parham is the Long Gallery, which stretches fully 160 feet. Outside the house is a lovely 4-acre walled garden.

Parham is an Elizabethan H-shaped house featuring its original rooms and furnishings, as well as Jacobean additions. The most interesting feature at Parham is the Long Gallery, which stretches fully 160 feet. Outside the house is a lovely 4-acre walled garden.

History
The Monastery of Westminster held lands at Parham during the Middle Ages, but when Henry VIII dissolved the monastery in 1540 he granted the estate to Robert Palmer, a London mercer. It was Palmer’s grandson, Sir William Palmer, who created the house we see today, beginning in 1577. The house took only 6 years to build, and was constructed in fairly typical Elizabethan style, with an H-plan layout centred on a great hall. The material is an intriguing mix of local stone and timber, with the addition of imported Caen stone and timber from the Baltic.

After the Palmer family sold the estate in 1601 Parham passed through numerous hands until 1922 when the estate was purchased by the Hon. Clive Pearson and his wife Alicia. The Pearsons were responsible for restoring and renovating the crumbling manor house and filling the interior with a wonderful collection of period furniture and works of art. Many of the artefacts collected by the Pearsons were purchased because they had originally been at Parham or had some connection with the house.

During WWII Parham was used to house 30 children evacuated from Peckham, London, and a fascinating exhibition off the Long Gallery tells the story of the children and their lives at Parham.

Aside from the extraordinary Long Gallery, one of the highlights of the house is the Elizabethan Great Hall, where you will find one of the most intriguing paintings in the Parham collection, a portrait of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, on horseback. What is so fascinating about this portrait – apart from the exquisite costume worn by the young prince – is that it originally showed the Prince’s horse being led by a winged figure of Time. But when the Prince died tragically in 1612 the figure of Time was painted out, replaced by a woodland scene. It was only in 1985 that x-rays revealed the original design, which was then carefully restored so that we can now see the original work as it was painted.

Other chambers on view include the Great Parlour, hung with beautiful 17th century portraits including a magnificent full-length likeness thought to be Elizabeth of Bohemia, the ‘Winter Queen’. Contrast this room with the Saloon, an elegant chamber remodelled in exquisite Georgian style by Cecil Bishopp in 1790. Upstairs are a range of bedchambers, including the Great Chamber, which boasts wonderful plasterwork and a Tudor bed that probably came from the court of Henry VIII.

Do take time to visit the medieval parish church, located just a short stroll from the main house, standing in isolated splendour in the grounds. And don’t miss Veronica’s Maze, a turf and brick maze built for the Year of the Maze in 1991. Though it looks easy, it isn’t; our determined family took at least 15 minutes to reach the centre.

Our verdict: An absolutely delightful historic house, with fantastic artwork and glorious gardens. We loved visiting Parham and would happily return.