To ensure that we take the time to explore our new country, we are attempting to take Fridays off to wander. Today we set out to visit Chichester, a town that many had recommended to us. We noticed, as we studied the map that there was a place enroute called Arundel, with a castle. It seemed prudent to make that stop along the way.

It turns out that Arundel is one of the finest historical towns in southern England which sits on the banks of the Arun River. It is a charming, picturesque market town know for its two stunning landmarks, Arundel Castle and Arundel Cathedral. The town overlooks the beautiful expanses of the South Downs and upstream lies a wetland and nature reserve. The High Street is filled with antique shops, specialty teas, fudge of every conceivable flavour, and bake shops, restaurants and pubs.

The magnificent stately home and fortified Arundel Castle, is the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk, reflecting nearly 1,000 years of history. It was established by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067, the land ceded to him by William the Conqueror. De Montgomery became the first to hold the earldom of Arundel and this has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk ever since. Originally built by the Normans to protect the vulnerable wooded plain through the South Downs, the town grew up on the slope below the castle.

Sitting at the top of the hill overlooking the town is the impressive Arundel Cathedral. It was commissioned by the Duke of Norfolk in 1868 and its designer was Joseph Hansom, the most notable architect of the Victorian Age (whose name survives as the designer of the Hansom Cab). Built in the French Gothic style, it features a spectacular round stained glass window reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris and a huge vaulted nave.

After buying a few Christmas gifts for our grandchildren, we stopped for lunch at the The Swan, down by the Arun River for some schnitzel and salmon before heading home. Our Google Maps navigator – who we have nicknamed “Ginger” – gave us some hilarious miscues on the way, through a farming cart path and to a bridge closed to all but pedestrian traffic. All part of the fun of exploring when you are no longer bound to the tyranny of a job and a schedule! We can’t wait to head out again!