Charles II avoids capture close to Arundel with links to Section 60 - West Dean to Houghton and Section 61 – Houghton to Findon written by John Morrison
The Monarch’s Way crosses the river Arun in Arundel itself. Charles II actually crossed the river at Houghton, a little to the north. The route chosen by Trevor is more scenic and much safer than trying to include a Houghton Bridge crossing. In the introduction to Section 60, Trevor carefully points out the danger of the section of road leading from the George and Dragon pub to Houghton Bridge. It is not good for walking and the bridge is better viewed from the railway car park (also the entrance to the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum).
My source for these notes is a book – Arundel Borough and Castle - written by Dr G. W. Eustace (priest, historian and resident of Arundel between1895-1925) who is commemorated by a Blue Plaque in Maltravers Street, Arundel. Eustace quotes from the diary of Colonel Gounter written prior to the restoration. The remnants of the woodland (Rewell Wood) referred to currently lies within a triangle bounded by the A27 (Fontwell to Arundel), A29 (Fontwell to Bury Hill) and A284 (Bury Hill to Arundel). At the time of Charles II it covered many more acres and had been a dedicated hunting ground from the time of the Normans.
In October 1651, Charles II escaping after the Battle of Worcester was fortunate not to be captured close to Arundel by the local troops. Having failed to access a ship either in Bristol or on the Dorset coast, he was advised by Dr. Henhman, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, to make use of one of the Sussex ports. Colonel Gounter of Racton undertook to have a boat in waiting at Brighthelmstone and to guide the King along the Sussex part of the escape route. The king spent the night of October 13 at Hambleton at the house of Gounter's sister, Mrs. Symons.
On the following morning, accompanied by Lord Wilmot, his servant and Colonel Gounter, he pushed over the Downs, passing a little to the north of Halnaker and Slindon Park. Gounter’s account of the escape states that as the travellers approached Arundel they met the governor of the Castle, Colonel Morley, going out to hunt. In order to avoid him they dismounted, and so escaped notice. Charles being told who it was, replied merrily: 'I did not much like his starched mouchates.' This incident caused the travellers to change their route and instead of crossing the Arun at Arundel, they rode northwards, and crossed at Houghton Bridge (having supposedly taken refreshment at the George and Dragon).
Soon after the escape of Charles II, but in no way linked to the event, the garrison at Arundel was removed. To prevent the castle ever being used as a stronghold it was blown up and remained a ruin until improvements began in 1720.
John Morrison Minder section 61.