Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Arundel Castle

I was in Brighton on business, but I decided I would take myself off for a morning to do this walk around Arundel which I had found on the AA website.

You start at the Mill Rd car park at the end of the High St and follow Mill Rd as it curves under the watchful eye of the castle. Pevsner berates Arundel Castle for the unhistorical rebuilding, in imitation of Windsor, which took place in the 1890s. The overall effect is chaotic, but the range at the south end is quite impressive.

When Mill Rd meets  a stream you turn right and follow the bank to meet the River Arun, now straight and wide between reedy banks. You follow the river for a while, with the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust centre on the left. At the Balck Rabbit pub a left turn onto the road brings you to the entrance to Arundel Park.

You follow the edge of the steep-sided Swanbourne Lake and gradually it becomes clear that it was made by damming one end of a long ravine. You walk on up the ravine. This is the view looking back (into the sun). The remains of the recent snow create an interesting effect.

Soon you double back, climbing the left side of the ravine, with a nice view down to the path crossing where you turned.

At the top of the climb there is an even more panoramic view. This is still Arundel Park, but it looks surprisingly wild.

At the the top of the climb, you turn right to cross a horse gallop and pass in front of Hiorne Tower. The walk description simply names it, but it is a delightful structure, worthy of more. From Pevsner, I learn that it dates from 1790 and was built by Francis Hiorne. He describes it as "a serious and sober piece of Gothic", although it looks like a folly.

It reminds me somewhat of the Broadway Tower, which was built in 1799 - we passed it on our first encounter with the Cotswold Way. Further research reveals that Hiorne built the tower to demonstrate his architectural ability to the Duke of Norfolk, but it not clear whether His Grace was impressed.

From here you follow a drive to emerge into the town near the RC Cathedral. It is enormously high and looks very impressive from a distance perched at one end of a ridge, with the castle at the other. It was built in 1870-3 to the designs of J A Hansom (whose most famous design was the cab that bears his name). It is in a reconisable French style - I thought of Beauvais and was thrilled to find that Pevsner agreed. He finds the detail unconvincing however and there is certainly something mass-produced about the spacious interior.

Walking along the road towards the centre of the town you glimpse this extraordinary wooden pavilion in the Castle gardens. I haven't been able to find out anything about it, but the gardens are clearly a fine sight.

A bit further on you come to a genuine piece of old Arundel. The church of St Nicholas was built, says Pevsner, "all of piece after 1380" in the early Perpendicular style. I was running out of time by now and did not go in.

Now you are in front of the main entrance to the castle with its impressive sky line.

And a stone's throw away is the Town Hall of 1836 - "gloomy" says Pevsner and it is hard to disagree.

Now finally down the pretty High St and back to the car park at the bottom.

Conditions: bright and not too cold.

Distance: about 3.5 miles.

Rating: four stars. Worth doing again and combining it with a visit to the Castle.


I was entertained to see these Mandarin ducks on the bank of the stream near the start of the walk.

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