History in Action Multi-Period Event at Arundel Castle
History in Action Multi-Period Event at Arundel Castle
The kids are "cheering giddily at a delightfully anarchic battle between Romans, Normans, Medieval Knights and Victorian ladies and gentlemen"
The kids are "cheering giddily at a delightfully anarchic battle between Romans, Normans, Medieval Knights and Victorian ladies and gentlemen"
Zoe's daughter with a couple of the actors
Zoe's daughter with a couple of the actors
The castle gift shop was splendid, with fab toy armour, a great range of affordable stationery, beautiful children’s costumes and lots of toys.
The castle gift shop was splendid, with fab toy armour, a great range of affordable stationery, beautiful children’s costumes and lots of toys.

Historical Re-enactment at Arundel Castle, West Sussex

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Kids in Museums’ treasurer Zoe Alzamora took her three kids to see the History in Action event at Arundel Castle over the August bank holiday weekend. They all whole-heartedly enjoyed seeing history up close with the smells of a blacksmith’s work and the noise of battles, hammers and medieval music.

In the tranquil surroundings of Arundel castle, the steel armour of 15th century knights is shining silver in the sunshine. Arrows whirring overhead, as a burly knight raises his sword to strike the shield of… hang on, who’s that? A Roman gladiator?

You see I’ve taken my three children to see the History in Action Event at Arundel Castle which is ‘multi-period’. So they’re cheering giddily at a delightfully anarchic battle between Romans, Normans, Medieval Knights and Victorian ladies and gentlemen taking place on the display lawn.

As well as battles and weapon displays today, there is falconry and the opportunity to have an owl or bird of prey sit upon you or your child’s gauntleted hand (should you be willing to queue for quite a while, that is).

A blacksmith demonstrates the making of arrowheads and lots of people dressed up in all kinds of historical costumes are crafting and chatting with everybody and having a hoot.

And now, the castle. Arundel Castle was established in 1067 on what must surely be one of the most massive hills in England (we ended up carrying the children in turn). Originally it was a motte and double bailey castle belonging to and run by Roger de Montfort, a cousin and key supporter of Norman the Conqueror.

It was rebuilt into the castle we see today by Henry II to create a more residential stronghold, and repaired and modified many times over the thousand years that followed. What remains is a Medieval-style castle, run by a charitable trust and still in a very liveable condition – in fact it is lived in by the current Duke of Norfolk and his family.

When I went with three children under the age of seven the Ooos and Ahhhs and ‘We’ve got that in our PlayMobil castle!’ remarks from them were such a joy. Just the wooden chests, tapestries, paintings and armour lining the walls made the visit worthwhile.

The staff were very friendly on the tour of the castle. The bedrooms were absolutely sumptuous and the ballroom with its carved wooden gallery was very impressive. Such a shame that taking photographs isn’t allowed within the castle.

As we were leaving the castle, my two-year-old daughter became very taken with one of the ancestral paintings of a little girl around her age wearing ballet clothes. It got her excited and was a really good talking point. It was a lovely moment.

Overall, if the day’s special event had been based around just one period in history rather than many, the children might have picked up more about history. But that wouldn’t have given so many of the very specific local historical societies a chance to get involved, and there was a lovely cheerful atmosphere.

The children had mud on their boots and had felt the thrill of being in a castle. They were very tired at the end of the day, and sank into their seats on the train journey home.

Arundel Castle is open until 1 November this year when it will close for the winter. It will reopen at the end of March 2016. Ticket prices vary depending on how much of the castle you want to see. For more information: http://www.arundelcastle.org/ They hold lots of events, including upcoming ones during the October half term.

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