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Arundel b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Arundel in West Sussex

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Arundel, West Sussex. A pleasant town on the River Arun, dominated by the great bulk of Arundel Castle. The town is an ancient one and was prominent in pre-Conquest times, but its buildings are now generally of the Victorian era, although some much older ones remain, including a coaching inn in the High Street. There is a fine park covering more than 1,000 acres, and the river offers excellent fishing. There has been a bridge over the river here since ancient times, but the present stone bridge was built in 1935.

Arundel Castle is picturesque, much restored, rebuilt and altered; in its present form, said to approach its medieval magnificence, it is often described as a smaller edition of Windsor Castle. It has for more than 500 years been the home of the Fitzalan family, Earls of Arundel, and through female descent the Howard family. Dukes of Norfolk (the names were combined in 1842), premier peers and hereditary Earls Marshal of England. A castle stood on this site before the Conquest, but the oldest parts of the present building date from Norman times. The castle underwent several sieges and was extensively damaged during the Civil War, when it was bombarded by the Parliamentary forces, and during their subsequent occupation of it. Afterwards it fell into a dilapidated state until it was largely rebuilt in the 18th century. Late in the 19th century it was again restored and rebuilt and two towers added by the 15th Duke, lather of the Earl Marshal who was responsible for organizing the coronation of Elizabeth II.

The rebuilding was carried out in magnificent style. Particularly is this notable in the Baron's Hall, a splendid reproduction of a medieval hail. Throughout there is much fine carving and Victorian reconstruction of the early English Gothic. The library, built early in the 19th century, is 117 ft long by 35 ft wide and constructed entirely of Honduras mahogany, one of the first usages of that timber in this country. Around the room are a number of chairs dating from the William and Mary to the Regency periods. There are many fine examples of period furniture and furnishings throughout the castle, some dating from the 15th century. One sumptuous Victorian room contains a bed and matching furniture specially designed and made for the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846.

The castle is also rich in art treasures, and contains a collection which includes works by Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Reynolds. In the long art gallery are hung the portraits of Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk arranged in chronological order. The domestic chapel was built at the turn of this century in Early English Gothic style. The slender pillars are of Purbeck marble and carry beautiful leaf-carving; the stained glass is modern. The Fitzalan chapel is part of the parish church (see below).

The Parish Church of St Nicholas was pulled down some time after 1349 and the Black Death and rebuilt in 1380; it is a fairly complete example of Early English architecture. On the walls are traces of medieval murals, including the Coronation of Our Lady, the Seven Works of Mercy and the Seven Deadly Sins.

An unusual feature of the church is that though it is the Anglican parish church, one end of it is the Fitzaian Chapel, where Roman Catholic services are held, the Fitzalan-Howard family being Catholic. The chapel fell into disrepair after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, and was further damaged and desecrated by the Parliamentary soldiers during the Civil War. It was restored to its original beauty and purpose in 1886 by the 15th Duke. Here can be seen many of the tombs of the Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk, and a bronze monument to the 15th Duke.

Until recently the two sections were separated by a brick wall which was erected in 1880 following an unfortunate law-suit. The then vicar of St Nicholas claimed the chapel as part of his church. he lost the case and the duke caused the wall to be built. This wall has now been removed and replaced by a clear partition. This chapel can be entered from the castle and is included in the castle tour.

Up the street from the parish church stands the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady and St Philip Neri. It was built in grandiose French Gothic style between 1869 and 1873, and was dedicated to St Philip Neri. It seemed very large for a parish church for a town of this size. However, when the bishopric of Arundel and Brighton was created in 1965. Arundel was chosen as the seat and the church became a cathedral in fact as well as dimension. The cathedral gives an impression of spaciousness and light, with some fine modern stained-glass windows. Six splendid pointed arches divide the aisles from the nave, which has a length of 97 ft and a width of 33 ft. each of the aisles being 12 ft wide. The groined vaulted ceiling of the nave is composed of bands of chalk and stone, and decorated with carved foliage.

Nearby towns: Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Pulborough, Worthing

Nearby villages: Amberley, Angmering, Barnham, Bignor, Burpham, Eartham, East Preston, Eastergate, Felpham, Ferring, Ford, Houghton, Lyminster, Madehurst, Middleton-on-Sea, Patching, Poling, Rustington, Slindon, Storrington, Walberton, West Preston, Westergate, Yapton

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