Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ARUNDEL, That's in South England, ya'll

If you have a chance to stay in Arundel, do it! We visited here on our first trip to England in 2006. There is so much to do in this little town built on a hillside. Relaxing by the river Arun, antique shopping, rummaging through the book shops, eating, and of course the history. If you are a history buff, you will not be disappointed. Architecture buffs, you will be thrilled!

We arrived early afternoon and made the very short walk from the rail station to the Arundel Hotel where we stayed. A very comfortable and one of the most reasonably priced places in Arundel. The staff was incredible. I hope they are still there!

We walked up a flight of stairs to our room with our HEAVY luggage in tow (one of the best reasons to pack light)we found our room comfy and in suite (the bathroom was in our room)and stocked with a hot water pot, teas, and biscuits (cookies). Also remember, you most likely will not have an ice bucket or machine any where in the building. But I asked the sweet girl you see pictured here for ice and she gave me all I wanted. So just ask for ice if you want it.

We made the short walk to city centre and spent the rest of the day, browsing (since Arundel is on the hillside, make sure and wear comfortable shoes)and grazing at the pastry and sweet shops. When it came time for a real meal we ate at the Red Lion. I had the fish and chips, and Olivia ate the steak pie. Both were yummy!

The town closed up pretty early, can't remember what time exactly, so we went back to our hotel. The locals congregate at the bar inside and it's fun to sit and listen to all the town news. The internet is there too.

Breakfast is included in the room cost, and what a breakfast! Eggs, bacon (ham to us) beans, tomatoes, sausages, hot cereal, and toast served in a pretty sunroom. Eat big there and snack the rest of the day if you are on a budget. And that is exactly what we did. The second day was devoted to history. We toured the Arundel Castle, the Fitzalan Chapel, and the Arundel Cathedral. PLAN ON SPENDING THE ENTIRE DAY DOING THIS!

I'll start with the castle.

It is still a family home. Can you imagine that???? Therefore, it is closed for part of the year. Go to: www.arundelcastle.org/_pages/03_visitor_info.htm for the dates it is open, and more information.

There are no words for how incredible the castle is. Imagine being in the castle keep (where the king's treasures were kept)that was built a thousand years ago??? You will see the ancient part and the up-to-date family areas. Three are a thousand acres of parkland! Beautiful! The gardens are breath-taking, there is a resturant and gift shop. You will see incredible art, furniture, books, and learn so much from the guides. I learned that the steps in the keep were purposly made narrow on the right side when assending so the attackers would be hindered from sword fighting (as most were right handed. Lucky were the left handers)

The Fitzalan Chapel is on the grounds of the castle. It is actually split in two by a screen. One side is an Anglican parish church, the other the Fitzalan Chapel, the private chapel of the Dukes of Norfork which is Catholic. This chapel has quite a history. You will find tour guides there who will tell you how the chapel was once used as a stable while under seige. You will see where the horses chipped and broke the intricate carvings around the tombs.
The gardens around the chapel are simply lovely. The Arundel Cathedral is georgeous inside and out. While we were there a gentleman was playing the organ. I was told that it is one of the finest organs in England. Not bad for an 135-year-old instrument.

Arundel is a great place to make daytrips from. We went to Dover from there. However, don't make the mistake I did. Not being familiar with the train systems, I assumed that I could go straight from Arundel to Dover. Not so. The train went back up to London and down to Dover. There was several problems with the trains and the trip took hours to get there, cutting deep in our Dover time. Littlehampton is close by if you are interested in spending time on the beach.

All-in-all, I found a kindred spirit with all the "southern Englanders" The people were friendly and helpful. I'd love to go there once more.