Arundel (/ˈærəndəl/ or local /ˈɑːndəl/) is a market town and civil parish in the South Downs of West Sussex in the south of England. It lies 49 miles (79 km) south southwest of London, 18 miles (29 km) west of Brighton, and 10 miles (16 km) east of the county town of Chichester. Other nearby towns include Worthing east southeast, Littlehampton to the south and Bognor Regis to the southwest. The River Arun runs through the western side of the town. The town is famous for its historic castle and cathedral.
Arundel was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835. In 1974 it became part of the Arun district, and now is a civil parish with a town council.
There are several theories about the meaning of the name ‘Arundel’. One is that the upper reaches of the Arun, away from the sea, was once known as the Arnus, from the Brythonic word Arno, meaning run or go. So Arundel would mean Arno-dell or the dell of the flowing river. Another theory is that due to the preponderance of hoarhound on the slopes of the Arun near the town, Arundel would mean hoarhound-dell. A third explanation is that the town takes its name from the French word for swallow, hirondelle, a bird which is on the town’s crest. The name was spelled Arundell until 1733, when the final l was dropped. A new theory (Theo Vennemann) relates the ‘Arun’ part to Basque aran ‘valley’ (substratic reduplication or tautology), like the placename Arendal in Norway and Sweden. However, it seems rather more likely that the Scandinavian placenames derive from Old Norse arnardalr ‘eagle dell’ or arindalr ‘dwelling dell’. Similarly, the name of Arundel could just as well derive from Old English earndæl or ærndæl, meaning ‘eagle dell’ and ‘dwelling dell’ respectively.
Arundel civil parish occupies an area of 1,227 hectares (3,030 acres) and has a population (2001 census) of 3408 persons.
Arundel town is a major bridging point over the River Arun, the lowest road bridge until the opening of the Littlehampton swing bridge in 1908. Arundel Castle was built by the Normans to protect that vulnerable point to the north of the valley through the South Downs. The town later grew up on the slope below the castle to the south. The river was previously called the Tarrant and was renamed after the town by antiquarians in a back-formation.
Arundel lies to the north of the A27 road, which narrowly avoids the town centre by a short and congested single carriageway bypass. Plans for a more extensive, HQDC bypass have been on and off for the past 30 years, and are currently off, despite the junction built in anticipation for it at Crossbush. Arundel railway station is on the Arun Valley Line. The Monarch’s Way long-distance footpath passes through the town and crosses the river here.
Arundel is home to Arundel Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. The town also has its own cricket ground at the castle, often cited as being one of the country’s most picturesque. It hosts Sussex County Cricket Club for a number of games each season and is also the venue for the traditional season curtain-raiser between Lavinia Duchess of Norfolk’s XI and the champion county. Every summer it hosts the touring country.
On 6 July 2004, Arundel was granted Fairtrade Town status.
People born in Arundel are known locally as Mullets, due to the presence of Mullet in the River Arun.
Arundel is home to one of the oldest Scout Groups in the world. 1st Arundel (Earl of Arundel’s Own) Scout Group was formed in 1908 only a few weeks after Scouting began. Based in its current HQ in Green Lane Close, it has active sections of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts.