Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Our FREEZING Day @ Arundel Castle

Today we visited Arundel Castle in Sussex, about an hour train ride from London.  My wife has been tracing her genealogy and has traced her familial line to Richard FitzAlan the 10th Earl of Arundel.  Since we were so close, and having a 4 year old that thinks she's a princess already, we made the trek.  

Already dealing with jet lag, we were also hit with the loss of an hour due to the UK entering Daylight Saving Time the day after we arrived.  We needed to wake up an hour earlier than normal to make it to the train station in time to catch our ride to Arundel. Since we are staying in the East End Docklands, we had about a 45 min tube ride to the national rail station at Victoria.  We made the train with about a minute to spare!

Arriving at the Arundel Train station.

I don't know if I've mentioned it, but it is utterly FREEZING in the UK now.  They've been hit with an abnormal cold snap that has left the country frozen.  At the very last minute as I was walking from the house, I tossed my coat in one of the suitcases, I'm glad I did. I would have had to bought a new one (and with the exchange rate, it would have been 50% more!).  I did pick up a pair of gloves from a street vendor £5.  They are fingerless and keep my hands mostly warm while allowing me to use my camera.  My wife, being the brilliant woman and mother she is, knew to pack her coat and a coat for our daughter.  The weather forecast was for 50º for the duration of our visit, it's been a steady 30º with a bitter wind!

The view of the castle from the train station. Arundel is surrounded by farms, and is beautiful!
The Village of Arundel is filled with quaint small cottages and grand homes.  A healthy mix of restaurants and shops for locals and tourists alike keep everyone interested without the tourist traps and market saturation you see in many destinations.  We decided to save £4 ($6) and not take the 5 minute taxi to the castle.  I'm glad we did!  We were able to see the cottages and shops and even stopped into a local cafe, Gaskyns Cafe, which was super kid friendly (lots of toys and activities for the Princess) and with great food and excellent coffee!

Wellies standing at attention!

After our elevensies, we made our way to the castle.  Once you cross the river, there are some ruins from a 13th century Blackfriars Dominican Friary.

Blackfriars Friary ruins

This was the first weekend the Castle was open this year and they had lots of re-enactors that staged a Medieval camp complete with a kitchen, hospital, falcons, archers, knights, and monks.  Unfortunately, since it was freezing, I think most people stayed away this weekend.

Walking up to the castle from the town.

Archery demonstration.  It was the little boy's birthday so they let him shoot along with the re-enactors!

Main castle gate, my girls bundled up tight!

There were a half dozen falcons and you could hold one for £2.

The castle was restored over the past 100 years.  At one point, it was mostly in ruins.

Walking into the castle.

The castle is FILLED with priceless artwork, furniture, jewelry and historical items.  You will not see any photos of those items.  Unfortunately, the £17 entrance fee ($25.50) doesn't include the ability to take photos.  The castle is run by the Historical Trust, and they state that due to security reasons, no photos are allowed inside.  This is truly unfortunate, as it is a BEAUTIFUL castle, with fully appointed interiors and grand rooms. The entrance fee did include a tour of the guest quarters and Ancient Keep.  I thought about trying to sneak a few shots, but the Historical Trust Ushers are ALL over the place!  I didn't want to get kicked out (like I almost was at Westminster Abbey a few years ago).

This is the walkway from the castle to the Keep.  We were able to snap some shots.

The castle is still inhabited by the Duke of Norfolk and his family. Oddly enough, mixed throughout the castle with the paintings and antiques are modern photos of the Duke's family. Walking from the castle to the keep, you can see the main living quarters and the entrance to the residential portion of the castle. I can only imagine living here!

View from the top of the keep.

Exterior wall of the Keep.

Looking back from the Keep to the Castle.  The keep was build in the 11th century and was the site of several sieges.

Stef and The Princess relaxing in the Chapel in the Keep.  Angry that it is SUPER cold!

Arundel Castle was one of the first Royal homes to incorporate electricity.  The entire electrical system was restored in the 1990's, but was not replaced with moden equivalents.  The entire system is still knob and tube with incandescent lights in the hallways all with filament bulbs.  Most of the lights were bare bulbs dangling from cloth wire, which was pretty cool.  Very few "fancy" lights mixed throughout.  Even in the great hall, the lighting was pretty basic in comparison to the rest of the surroundings.

There were several working fireplaces, which was welcome to both visitor and Trust volunteers alike.  It is a drafty castle y'know!

One of the original gates.

Royal Crest at the top of the gate.

Fountain detail.

Stef enjoying the walk from the Castle to the Gardens

Our ticket price also included the royal garden, which was amazing and full of fountains and structures.  I'll make another post on the garden (which also includes a petting zoo) another day.  Even with the cold, and the long lines into the small water closets, we had a great time walking the castle and the grounds.  I wish I could have taken some pics of the interior, I would have snapped some great shots that I would have loved to share! 

Parting shot of the Castle.

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