Being a bit of a history fan; I’ve grown up with a love of castles, whether they be in ruins or remarkably intact. I just love them. I’m slowly working my way around the castles of the British Isles – there are a lot! Anyway, knowing that Monkey and I love Jousting, Tina from The Soup Dragon Says arranged a special treat for us whilst we were staying with her in Sussex last week. We were off to see the Jousting at Arundel Castle. I was over the moon as I’ve wanted to visit for years, Monkey was excited as he would be seeing more Knights.
As we approached Arundel last Friday the castle and cathedral appeared before our eyes – wow! Arundel Castle is stunning, a sprawling, magnificent building. The sun was out, it was going to be a good day.
It’s worth noting that there is no on-site car parking. There is a pay and display car park literally across the road and it cost us £5.00 to park all day. You do need change, if you haven’t got any, the ticket office is quite happy to change a bank-note for you. We parked up, crossed the road (there isn’t a pedestrian crossing, so worth taking care with young children) and entered the main gateway, excitement building.
As we made our way to the lower lawns to see the Jousting at Arundel Castle the castle itself appeared, I could have taken a million photos of it – what a tale it has to tell.
We decided that we’d explore the castle later in the day as we really wanted to see as much of the Jousting as possible. What struck me, was the scale of the event. The Jousting was on for the whole week, and there was a real medieval camp feel to the occasion. It was far more impressive than events Monkey and I had been to before. For Tina and her son, seeing Jousting for the first time, I could tell they were in for a treat.
There were tents dotted around with all sorts of crafts being displayed; from basket weaving to armoury. Monkey at 4 and half wasn’t too interested in these, much to my dismay. But older children were really enjoying watching what was happening and it added to the dramatic effect.
Monkey just wanted to see the Jousting at Arundel Castle, so we picked a spot close to the activities, spread out our picnic blanket and waited for the fun to begin.
Before long Lady Beatrice rode into the arena and explained what would be happening in the first of three Jousting events that day.
She introduced us to the riders in each team and explained that they would be taking part in some warming up exercises before the main Joust.
We watched the Knights grab javelins as they sped past and speared the enemy, use swords to behead cabbages (Mummy, why are they slicing cabbages? Uum ….), collect quoits on the end of lances and hit the quintain. It was really interesting, and there was more action than we’d seen at previous events. It was a pity that the quintain was the other side of the jousting arena so the spectators didn’t get the full effect.
Then it was on to the Jousting itself, the armoured Knights and Horses were superb. The Jousting was all being scored, specially treated lances were used which splintered on impact. Although the King of Arms did explain the scoring system, we did get a bit lost with it all as the point of impact between the riders was so quick. But it didn’t stop any of the enjoyment. Monkey was in his element and I thoroughly enjoyed it too.
Our Knights were hungry and it was so hot by the Jousting event that we moved in search of a little shade to have our lunch. There was a Weapons Demo going on in front of us, but lots of people were standing up to watch so we listened to steel against steel as we ate.
After lunch we had planned to go for a walk around the castle but as we walked up to the castle entrance we saw a sign with a dragon. Mummy what’s that?
When the story finished we all agreed that an ice cream was needed, and we headed for the cafe inside the castle. We had brought a picnic with us but the Castle houses a restaurant and a coffee-house. After we’d enjoyed our treats we split up for a bit. Tina’s son was eager to try his hand at Archery and we wanted to explore the Castle.
No photography is allowed inside the castle itself, and with a 4 and half year old, it’s difficult to do more than a whistle stop tour. Suffice to say that the interior of Arundel Castle lives up to the exterior. The Main Hall is splendid, I’d love to go back and explore the rooms in more detail.
We walked over to the Castle Keep. Monkey made it up the steps to the Keep itself but wasn’t keen on climbing the stairs to the top. Fair enough, I need an excuse to come back!
By the time Monkey and I had walked around the castle rooms and come outside the weather had changed quite dramatically. We’d left to probably the hottest day of the year and come back to grey skies and the rumble of thunder. Oh dear, our waterproof jackets were in the boot of the car!
We would have loved to explore the Castle Gardens but decided we’d better head back to the lower lawns for the last Joust of the day. The heavens opened so we wrapped ourselves up in our picnic blanket to try and keep dry. It didn’t really work but we weren’t going to miss out on the action.
The Jousting over, the weather getting worse by the minute, and a long journey ahead of us, we decided to say goodbye to Tina and her son and head home. We’d had a wonderful day enjoying the Jousting at Arundel Castle and we will be back. There was so much to see, I feel we only scratched at the surface.
There are various priced tickets available depending on what you actually want to see at Arundel Castle. Family tickets are also available.
disclaimer: we were given complimentary Gold Plus tickets so could access all public areas on this trip in exchange for an honest review