Thanks to the generosity and kindness of The Duchess of Norfolk and a group of her friends, we were given the opportunity to take 30 children from Hallfield and St Vincent’s primary schools on a very special trip to Arundel Castle yesterday for a day of food, adventure, fresh air and fun.
A warm welcome and delicious lunch greeted us. Her Grace then took us on a tour of the 1,000 year old castle, the highlight of which was undoubtedly the Keep, the highest point reached via a series of narrow passages and steep spiral staircases. The views over the Sussex countryside were spectacular and one of the teachers pointed out a deep dungeon where naughty children might be sent!
The next stop was a grassy hill outside the castle walls, which proved the perfect place to practice rolling! The castle was closed to the public so these 30 children had the run of the place for the day.
The petting zoo was an immediate hit: ponies to be brushed, enormous grunting pigs, the most incredible collection of chickens, and meercats – funny, sweet, expressive … and adorable babies.
For some of the children, the gardens were the highlight. Spectacular water features, a building decorated with antlers, lawns just made for running around and a Stumpery, where they met the gardener who was planting in and around fascinating tree stumps that had been placed there to delight and inspire.
All this excitement built an appetite and we went back to the castle for our final activity – a tea of sandwiches and handmade cupcakes – before heading back to the train for London, each child clutching a goodie bag presented by the Duchess.
During the day, one child was overheard saying she wanted to see “the royal bedroom” and another asked where Her Grace’s crown was (that was easy – we saw it atop a fountain in the gardens). For me, though, my favourite question was from a little girl who, when introduced to the Dutchess [sic] asked, “do you speak Dutch?”!
To see pictures from the trip visit our Facebook page.
Nicky Goulder, Chief Executive