Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

ctt. Vii                      MODERN MEDIEVALISM                             69
ages, is so often only a mere show, that to find an historic castle like Arundel still lived in is very gratifying. In Sussex alone are several half-ruined houses that the builders could quickly make habitable once more. Arundel Castle, in spite of time and the sieges of 1102, 1139, and 1643, is both comfortable and modern; Arundel still depends for her life upon the complaisance of her over-lord.
I know of no town with so low a pulse as this pre­cipitous little settlement under the shadow of Rome and the Duke. In spite of picnic parties in the park, in spite of anglers from London, in spite of the railway in the valley, Arundel is still medieval and curiously foreign. On a very hot day, as one climbs the hill to the cathedral, one might be in old France, and certainly in the Middle Ages.
Time's revenges have had their play in this town. Although the church is still bravely of the establishment, half of it is closed to the Anglican visitor (the chancel having been adjudged the private property of the Dukes of Norfolk), and the once dominating position of the edifice has been impaired by the proximity of the new Roman Catholic church of St. Philip Neri, which the present Duke has been building these many years. Within, it is finished, a very charming and delicate feat in stone; but the spire has yet to come. The old Irish soldier, humorous and bemedalled, who keeps watch and ward over the fane, is not the least of its merits.
Although the chancel of the parish church has been closed, permission to enter may occasionally be obtained. It is rich in family tombs of great interest and beauty, including that of the nineteenth Earl of Arundel, the patron of William Caxton. In the siege of Arundel Castle in 1643, the soldiers of the parliamentarians, under Sir William Waller, fired their cannon from the church tower. They also turned the church into a barracks, and injured much stone work beyond repair. A fire beacon blazed of old on the spire to serve as a mark for vessels entering Littlehampton harbour.
Previous Contents Next