Arundel Castle – One of The Longest Inhabited Castles in The UK


Arundel Castle holds the honor of being one of the longest inhabited castles in the UK–walking through its halls is like wading through a thousand years of history. Located in West Sussex, England, this monument to the past used to be a royal stronghold for the Earl of Montgomery and is best known for guarding the town against French invasion. At the time, the city was a busy port with ships sailing inland through the Arun River.

The historical significance of Arundel Castle can be seen through the fact that it has stood tall and proud through the Wars of Roses, the Tudor period, and the Civil War. It has been home to the Dukes of Norfolk since the 16th century. Let’s look at everything you need to know about it:

Several movies and television series were shot at Arundel Castle. They include Wonder Woman (2017), The White Princess (2017), The Young Victoria (2009), and Dr. Who (1963-1989).

Arundel Castle looking like something straight out of a fantasy story.
Arundel Castle looking like something straight out of a fantasy story. Arundel Castle 21-09-2012 flickr photo by Karen Roe shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Frequently Asked Questions


Early History

There were two families involved in the history of Arundel Castle – the FitzAlans and the Howards. 

It was initially built by Roger de Montgomery (circa 1067) as a defensive motte-and-bailey structure consisting of a Norman keep-style architecture. The keep stands proud in its original form to this day – as do the gatehouse and barbican. The grounds were gifted to Montgomery by his cousin, William the Conqueror, as a reward for conquering Normandy while he campaigned in England.

Picturesque view of Arundel Castle
The picturesque view of Arundel castle in 1840. [Public Domain]

With the death of Roger Montgomery in 1094, the estate was transferred to his son Hugh and later passed on to his elder brother, Robert of Bellême. However, Robert was exiled and the estates were secured by Henry I.

The Fitzalan line ceased with the marriage of Mary Fitzalan to Thomas Howard, the 4th

The Fitzalan Line of Inheritors

Arundel Castle was passed down by Henry I to his second wife Adeliza of Louvain. Unfortunately, Henry I passed away and Adeliza remarried. It was 1138 when the property was taken over by her second husband, William d’Aubigny, First Earl of Arundel, who made significant upgrades to the castle. In fact, he was the one who initiated and completed the construction of the stone shell keep.

Interior Quadrangle of Arundel Castle
Interior Quadrangle of the Castle. [Public Domain]

It was during this time that Arundel was the center of the Anarchy – a civil war movement between Stephen (Henry’s nephew) and Matilda (Henry’s daughter). Although William was on Stephen’s side, he opened his home at Arundel to Matilda as well. 

Henry II took over the castle after William’s death in 1176. He spent a large amount on restructuring the castle. It was eventually offered back to the d’Aubigny family by King Richard I. The d’Aubigny’s last male line married into the FitzAlan family in 1243.

The Fitzalan line ceased with the marriage of Mary FitzAlan to Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk. 

Arundel Castle from Up Close. [Public Domain]

The Howard Family

The Howards were another illustrious English family. They came into possession of Arundel Castle through marriage. The 4th Duke of Norfolk came from a well-respected family. His grandfather – the 3rd Duke – was the uncle of Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, both were wives of Henry VIII.

Thomas, the 4th Duke, died an ill-fated death. He was actually executed for his collusion in the Ridolfi plot (a plan to replace Elizebeth I with Mary, Queen of Scots). 

During the Civil War (17th Century)

Arundel Castle played a key role in the 17th-century Civil War. The Howards supported the Royalists at the time and the castle became the garrison of around 800 men.

However, Arundel fell to the Parliamentary side in 1643 under the siege of William Waller–a commander who had garnered several victories before (most notably at Alton). The Royalists were ultimately defeated and parts of Arundel Castle were destroyed so that it could not be used for military defense again.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that the South Range was restored and the castle started being used as an occasional residence. 

Henry Charles Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Henry Charles Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Redwardfiola, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 19th Century Revamp (19th Century)

It was the 11th Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard, who commenced with the actual restoration of Arundel Castle. He wanted to carry out the entire revamp in the Gothic style, but the intense disapproval from Queen Victoria halted his efforts in his track. Victoria called the initial gothic plans “bad architecture” so another round of restyling was carried out in the latter half of the 19th century.

This new venture took inspiration from the lighter, brighter Gothic Revival movement and Charles Buckler was hired by the next Duke of Norfolk. This is the Arundel that we see today.

Current Times

At present, the castle is still owned by the Dukes of Norfolk, currently the 18th Duke and the Earl Marshal of England. Arundel is open to the public for viewing.

Arundel Castle-West Sussex England
The Courtyard of the Castle. Mark Tollerman from London, UK [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The quadrangle outside the castle greets visitors with turrets and chimney stacks. The Victorian-era interiors feature a collection of eclectic paintings like the Canaletto landscapes in the drawing-room.

Arundel Castle Walls
The Wall of The Castle. “Arundel Castle” (CC BY 2.0) by Dmitry Dzhus

Other than that, there are quite a few unique artifacts that can be appreciated at Arundel Castle as well. These include sumptuous furniture from years gone by as well as gorgeous tapestries. Visitors also love the armory displays that are installed with ceremonial weapons, and of course, history buffs love the galleries with family portraits that highlight 850 years worth of history. The chapel with stained glass and Purbeck marble columns is also an architectural highlight.

Arundel Castle Library
The Library of the Castle. “Arundel Castle Library” (CC BY 2.0) by Dmitry Dzhus

Interesting Facts About Arundel Castle

  • It was owned by several kings, including Henry I, Henry II, along with Richard the Lionheart.
  • The Fitzalan Chapel remains a burial place up until today. The 14th-century chapel is still the burial place for all Dukes of Norfolk.
  • The castle has hosted several royal occasions, such as being the venue for the marriage of England’s future king Henry IV to Mary de Bohun in 1380 and hosting a visit from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846.
  • Arundel Castle was occupied by the British and Allied forces during the Second World War.
  • Several movies and television series were shot at Arundel Castle. They include Wonder Woman (2017), The White Princess (2017), The Young Victoria (2009), and Dr. Who (1963-1989).

Visiting Arundel Castle – Tips and Tricks

Arundel Castle stands proud in all its magnificent glory these days. It’s an important tourist destination – one that you should definitely put on your itinerary if you’re in the area. Here’s all you need to know about planning a visit:

Arundel Castle's view from afar.
Arundel Castle’s view from afar. Arundel flickr photo by HerryLawford shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Arundel Castle?

There are quite a few ways to get to Arundel Castle from London. The cheapest way is by driving your own car. The travel time for this option is almost one and a half hours and it’s going to cost you between £11-£17 ($13-$20 USD).

If you want to venture out on public transportation, then you can take the train from Victoria Station, London (which runs every 4 hours) and get off at Arundel. From there, it’s an 18-minute walk to the castle. The ride takes an hour and forty-five minutes and costs between £18-£49 ($21-$60 USD).

Alternately, you can also take the London St Pancras International LL train to Horsham. It’s an hour and a half long ride and costs £19-£23 ($23-$28 USD). From Horsham, you can take the hourly 30-minute train ride to Arundel which costs £8-£18 ($9-$22 USD). Then it’s an 18-minute walk to the castle.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Information was checked & updated on September 25th, 2023.

Arundel Castle is open to the public from the 1st of April to the 29th of October. Timings vary between attractions. The gardens open at 10:00 am and close at 5:00 pm. The keep opens at 10:00 am and closes at 4:30 pm. The rooms inside the castle can be visited between 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, final entry is at 4:00 pm.

Ticket prices vary according to age. If you want to tour the entire castle including the castle, gardens, and bedrooms, then tickets for adults are £27 ($33 USD). For kids or families, it’s £11 ($13.45 USD) and £65 ($79 USD) respectively.

If you just want to see the castle and gardens, then you can avail of a ticket at the price of £25 ($30.5 USD) for adults, £11 ($13.45 USD) for kids, and £61 ($75 USD) for families. 

If you don’t want to see anything but the gardens, then ticket prices for adults are £14 ($17 USD) and £6.5 ($8 USD) for kids respectively. 

Arundel Castle Birds Eye View
Arundel Castle from Up Top. “Arundel Castle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by montpelier

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

In order to take in the full expanse of the garden, castle, and interiors, plan to spend at least three (or more) hours at Arundel Castle.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Try to plan your visit so that you can experience one of the many festivals the castle hosts. These include medieval weekends, medieval jousting, and more. 
  • Tickets for medieval jousting and A Midsummers Night’s Dream need to be bought separately.
  • The castle coffee shop serves some excellent sandwiches, coffee, and tea. There’s even a Knight’s Table that’s set up on event days where you can get foot with a medieval twist.
  • Local producers stock their handcrafted items at the gift shop, so it’s a great place to get something for yourself or your loved ones.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Arundel Castle Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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