Having never been to a re-enactment before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be loads of fun and we would all definitely go again. Arundel Castle is a glorious setting for a family day out and we started off by exploring the Castle’s gardens and grounds. The formal gardens are full of big surprises, and exciting concepts and the kids could have happily spent twice as long as we did just exploring and making up their own stories about the garden (they decided it was Narnia). On the practical side, the wide range of produce grown in the extensive Organic Kitchen Garden and the tropical glasshouses are then used in the castle eateries.
The Castle Siege took place twice during the day and was an unscripted battle in full armour (in that sun!) with booming cannons, skilled archers and menacing knights shouting, kicking, hacking and generally having a big old scrap. It was quite a lot like a summer pantomime with cheering, booing and loud bangs and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. There was also a chance to watch a weaponry display, listen to storytelling and music and walk through the English encampment to see the knights and attendants cleaning swords, eating gammon, tending the fires and preparing to do battle again.
The visit to the stately home within the castle felt like walking onto a very expensive film set, or arranging to view a house for sale that is phenomenally way above your budget. The library alone has made me want a room decorated all in mahogany stain and dark red. The great hall is just like something out of Hogwarts and there are items on display which you can get really close to like Queen Victoria’s blue velvet throne and the ceremonial cushion that was used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The private rooms go on and on (obviously, it’s a big place) and the Fitzalan Chapel is huge and fantastically ornate and it was never even intended to be seen by the public.
The children wanted to go straight back again the next day to find out who was going to win the next battle and to go back into the Castle gardens, and to be honest, I would be very happy to go straight back too.