I visited the enchanting town with fairytale castle and popular tea room just 26 miles from Surrey

Water fall and feaures surrounded by plants
-Credit: (Image: Lauren Cole-Lomas)

Arundel is an enchanting town built around a fairytale castle on the South Downs. Close to the coast it resides high on a hill with amazing views of Sussex.

The River Arun runs alongside the town, a tidal river that joins the sea at Littlehampton. With a pretty backdrop and a traditional market town, Arundel is a popular place to visit, so I spent the day as a tourist.

Driving to Arundel took 1 hour and 20 minutes, passing through scenic villages in Surrey like Godalming and Chiddingfold. A large car park at Mill Road is ample, with wardens to help guide drivers to spaces, there’s also Ringo which I find is the most convenient way to pay for parking.


The Harlow Carr roses were amazing
The Harlow Carr roses were amazing -Credit:Lauren Cole-Lomas

From the car park you can walk along the river, or head up into the town. The river is an unusual greenish colour, and carries a seawater scent in the air. Heading up the hill towards the castle, it took around 12 minutes to walk to the entrance past the quaint shops. Arundel has a collection of grand properties with stunning architecture from different periods.

The castle itself was built in the Norman period, but has had renovations over the years, with the majority of major work taking place in the 19th century. The Duke of Norfolk lives at the Arundel Castle in Sussex, and the current incumbent is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk.

Those who want to visit the castle can as parts of it are open to the public, displaying historical relics. However, I decided to stick to the fresh air outside during this short visit. As it was sunny, visiting the gardens of Arundel Castle was a must. I loved exploring the grounds, starting with a small water garden, with wooden boat huts and aquatic plants.

Winding round back towards the castle, I was hit was a rosy scent in the air, coming from a row of gorgeous pale pink roses. The Harlow Carr and Oliver Austin roses variation carried sweet, classic scent in the summer heat.

Effigy from a chapel in Arundel with two statues laying down
A chilling effigy inside the chapel at Arundel -Credit:Lauren Cole-Lomas

This row leads to a hidden rose garden, with pretty pastel yellow Desdemona roses contrasted with pink petals and alliums. The Earl Collector Gardens features views of Oberon Palace, with Italian-style patios and fountains. Palatial fountains with golden lion spouts were a gorgeous touch, but I wasn’t a fan of the dyed water. Some of the fountains had an artificial tinge, which I wasn’t too keen on.

Inside Oberon Palace is a ghostly floating crown folly, made by using air and water. A shell display can be seen behind the folly, painstakingly made with mussel shell tiles.

An incredible chapel can also be found tucked away on the grounds. It's surrounded with a white garden with pale petals dotted around. The chilling effigy of John Fitzalan captivated me, portraying the deceased 7th Earl. He died in 1435, aged just 27 in the Battle of Gerberoy in France. The effigy was fascinating, and I would have liked to have read more about the Earl, but I didn't see any information board in the tomb, so made sure to do some research when I got home.

After a stroll in the sunshine, it was time to explore the town and grab some lunch. We popped into Cockburn’s Tea Room, which has a 4.7 rating on Google. It was busy inside, with afternoon tea options. I would recommend booking ahead if possible, because it does get busy, and for the afternoon tea with sandwiches and cakes you certainly will need to book ahead so it can be prepared.

I went for the prawn sandwich on granary bread and salad on the side. The sandwich was generous, and the salad was also well portioned, I had a pot of Earl Grey tea in a large antique-looking teapot to wash it down.

To top it all off I had a fruit scone with fresh strawberry jam and thick clotted cream. The scone was served warm, and I could tell it had been made that day.

Reviews left on Google certainly reflect the positive experience I had with the tearoom, one reads: “The most delightful afternoon tea & cake is served here! We each got a pot of tea, which was served in the a large china teapot with enough for 3 cups per person. And the crumpets were hot and delicious. The restaurant decor very tastefully done and extremely comfortable. Quite a find, I would say. Highly recommended!”

Another wrote: “What a lovely place to have tea and cake. The tea room was very busy but once we sat down, we weren’t made to feel rush to eat and pay. Lemon drizzle cake was delicious but the latté was only average. Big selection of cakes and friendly staff. Highly recommended.”

I'd certainly recommend Arundel as a day out to escape Surrey, but I would say plan ahead the journey. Leave earlier and avoid rush hour in the afternoon and evening, as this route I drove cut though Guildford, which can add time on as people leave the town at the end of the day.

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