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A.3.2 Castle

The castle has been the residence of the Earl of Arundel for more than 800 years. It is the property of the Duke of Norfolk as Earl of Arundel. The families of Albini, Fitzalan and Howard have held the title. The Duke of Norfolk is also Earl Marshall and Earl of Arundel and Surrey. It is the only remaining Earldom by tenure.

The first Earl Marshal of England was Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, who was created Earl Marshal in 1386 and Duke of Norfolk in 1387. With the extinction of the male line of the Mowbray in 1476 the Marshalship lapsed to the Crown. It was recreated in 1483 and given, together with the Dukedom of Norfolk, to one of the co-heirs of Mowbray, Lord Howard. The Duke fought on the loosing side at Bosworth and was killed. His titles were taken away from his family. The office was then given to the other co-heir of Mowbray, William, Earl of Nottingham, and later Marquess of Berkeley. He died without male heir and, in 1492, the Marshalship was again reverted to the Crown. For the following 180 years it was only granted for life, generally to the head of the house of Howard. In 1672 Henry, Earl of Norwich, brother and heir-presumptive of the Duke of Norfolk, received the Marshalship for him and his descendants. It is in this way that the Dukes of Norfolk hold this office.

Some kind of a castle existed on the site at the time of Edward known as “the Confessor” (1003-1066) and the keep is of Saxon design. A castle at Arundel was also mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but it is not clear if it was on the same site. William the Conqueror gave the Earldom of Arundel to Roger de Montgomery, one of his Lieutenants, in 1067. Roger built a 100 feet high mote with a timber and earth castle on top. The mote is still there today. During the next hundred years the defences, keep and gatehouse made of timbers and earth, were replaced by stone constructions. The square well tower was added to the circular keep in the late 13th century to supply the keep with water from a deep well.

Arundel Castle - Photo by Herry Lawford on Flickr
Arundel Castle - Photo by Herry Lawford on Flickr

The first written mention of the castle dates from 1097 when William Rufus landed at Arundel on his return from Normandy. He celebrated Easter in the castle. In 1102 the castle, now in the hands of Robert, Roger de Montmorency’s son, was besieged and captured after three months by Henry I, after Robert rebelled against the king. Henry II owned it for about ten years and he initiated some improvements. Adeliza of Louvain, Henry I’s widow, lived here. She married William of Albini in 1138 and he was made Earl of Arundel. He built the keep. In 1139 Empress Mathilda found a refuge in it, as had Empress Maud before. The castle was under siege again during the dispute between Matilda, Adeliza’s stepdaughter, and her cousin Stephen. In 1243 Arundel passed to John Fitzalan, Lord of Clun and Oswestry. The title was recreated in 1289 and the Fitzalans were Earls of Arundel for nearly three hundred years. King Edward I (1239/1307) gave Richard, the 11th Earl of Arundel, the right to hold and tax two fairs a year in Arundel. With this money Richard added the Bevis’ Tower and the barbican with its two square towers in front of the Norman gateway. Richard also added some brick buildings to the castle which construction was finished in the middle of the 16th century. The Fitzalan line ended in 1580 when Henry, the 12th Earl died and was succeeded by his grandson, Philip Howard. The family of the Earls of Arundel and the family of the Duke of Norfolk were from then on united. Philip Howard died in the Tower of London for his Catholic faith.

The tile and the estates that had been taken back by the Crown after the death of Philip Howard were gradually given back to the Howard family. James I restored Thomas Howard, the son of St Philip Howard who died in the Tower of London, as the 24th Earl of Arundel in 1604. Thomas then built vaults under the Fitzalan Chapel where he buried his father’s body. Another Thomas, the 26th Earl of Arundel and great-grandson of Philip Howard, became the 5th Duke of Norfolk in 1660.

The castle was pro-king in the Civil War. However, at the beginning of the war it was taken by the Parliamentarians but they gave it back to the King’s forces under Lord Hopton in December 1643. Sir William Waller assaulted the town on 19/12/1643 and the castle surrendered to the siege on 6/1/1644. Richard Fitzalan rebuilt the Great Hall, destroyed during the siege of 1643. Charles II reinstated the Howards as Dukes of Norfolk in 1660 but they did not live in Arundel, the castle being in ruins.

The castle was rebuilt in the 18th century in the style of the time. The reconstruction started in 1720 and was continued in 1791/95 by Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk who died in 1815. He first had the Hiorne’s Tower built in the park (by the architect, Francis Hiorne of Warwick). However Hiorne soon afterwards died and, after trying to work with another architect, Charles decided to be his own architect with the help of John Teasdale, a competent master mason. But first the Duke bought more than a thousand acres of land, and he obtained authorisation from the Parliament to divert London Road to the south of the Parish Church. He also walled his property and built a few lodges. The keep remained for no special reason other that as a romantic ruin. Some other reconstruction was made in 1801 (the library) and in 1806 (the Baron hall), but most of the work was finished in 1805.

Bernard Edward, the 12th Duke of Norfolk, did not come to live in Arundel but his son, who became the 13th Duke in 1842, and his successors did. Henry Charles, the 13th Duke, married Charlotte, the daughter of one of the richest man in England. They spent a lot of money on the castle adding more rooms for the family and rebuilding the staircase, the Baron Hall, and the Chapel with the help of the architect Charles Buckler. In 1846 Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, stayed at the castle for three days after being welcomed by Arundel Mayor, Mr Howard Gibbon (said to be the illegitimate son of the 11th Duke).

The work went on until the beginning of the 20th century as the 15th Duke financed another restoration that took place in 1895-1890. Up to 300 workers were at work at the same time. Central heating was installed in the 1880s and electric lighting in the 1890s. Two steam generators housed in a mock-Tudor building near the stables, and connected to the castle by underground cables, provided the electricity. There was enough power for 1,000 light bulbs. The same blocks of stone imported from Caen by the Norman Earl Montgomery to build the original castle were used again.

There is a Catholic Chapel (Romith?) within the castle; a priest paid by the Duke of Norfolk attended it in 1792. In 1922 only the keep and the dairy could be visited from April to September and a fee was charged. When the Duke is in residence his flag flies on a turret that can be seen from the road. But these days it is the Earl who lives full time in the castle with his family. His banner is red with a diagonal white stripe.

Bernard the 16th Duke of Norfolk who died in 1975 was very popular and respected. He married Duchess Lavinia in 1937. As Earl Marshal he organised the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and of Elizabeth II in 1953, as well as the funerals of Kings George V and VI, and of Sir Winston Churchill. Miles Fitzalan the 17th Duke of Norfolk succeeded him.

The castle can be visited from noon to 5pm from April 2 to the last Friday in October everyday except for Saturdays and Good Friday. A fee is charged. The main exhibits are:

  • The armoury that contains swords and other arms collected mainly by the 15th Duke of Norfolk
  • The chapel completed in 1898
  • The Barons’ Hall also built in 1898.The picture gallery built by the 8th Duke in the 18th century. All the Dukes and their wives and children can be seen
  • The dining room, which was initially built as a chapel for Henry II
  • The grand staircases
  • Queen Victoria’s bedroom (she slept here in 1846) and the big bed made especially for her and her husband, Prince Albert
  • The drawing room
  • The library with its 10,000 books
  • The billiard room
  • The keep with, half way up, Queen Mathilda’s s room. Empress Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I and stayed at the castle in 1139
  • The Fitzalan Chapel
  • The park

The Arundel Park covered 1245 acres (1855, 1878) but it was vastly increased later on to reach about eleven thousand acres. Many deer and thousand of pheasants are living in it. The park is open to visitors free of charge all the year. Francis Hiorne built Hiorne Tower in 1790 as a trial piece to show the architect’s worth before giving the contract to restore the castle. Hiorne soon died afterwards, but he had failed the test anyway as the castle was rebuilt in a different style. Arundel Park has also a beautiful cricket ground that was constructed in 1895 by the 15th Duke of Norfolk. It is the habit of visiting touring teams to play their opening game in Arundel. At the end of Mill Road, after Swanbourne Lake, is the Wildfowl Trust Reserve that covers sixty acres of low-lying land near the Arun River. Since its opening in 1976 it is the home to more than 700 ducks, geese and swans of about seventy species.

Fitzalan Chapel

The Fitzalan Chapel is within the ground of the castle, and is the private property of the Duke of Norfolk. Following a request to the contrary by the Anglican Vicar, Rev. Arbuthnot, the Appeal Court declared in 1880 that it was a “distinct” building of the Parish Church although the two are linked together.

It is more the burial place for the family of the Dukes of Norfolk that a chapel, although masses are said there on important anniversaries.

From the sacristy one enters the Lady Chapel with its black Victorian marble monument of Henry Thomas Howard and his family. Eight coloured heraldic shields are on the sides of the tomb. In the Lady Chapel there is also the tomb of John Fitzalan, the 16th Earl of Arundel who died in 1421, and of his wife, Eleanor. There are also brasses for three priests of the 15th century, Esperaunce Blondell, John Baker and Richard Ward.

Just outside the Lady Chapel one can see the oldest tomb in the Fitzalan Chapel, that of Thomas, the 15th Earl of Arundel, and his wife Beatrix. Their double effigies in alabaster are on top of their tomb. Thomas had been made a Knight of the Bath and Chief Butler by King Henry IV and, later on, Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lord High Treasurer of England by King Henry V. These are still the hereditary titles of the Duke of Norfolk today.

There are many other tombs in the Fitzalan Chapel including that of:

  • John, the 17th Earl
  • William, the 19th Earl who died in 1488, and his wife Joan
  • Thomas the 20th Earl and his son, William, the 21st Earl
  • Henry the 22nd Earl
  • Henry Granville the 14th Duke a very religious and charitable person
  • Henry the 15th Duke of Norfolk who built the cathedral in 1873 and the new post office in 1895
  • Canon Tierney, the well-known historian of Arundel and Chaplain to the Duke, who died in 1862

The chapel was badly damaged during the Civil War when the Parliamentarian forces kept their horses in it. It became derelict after 1782 when the original carved roof was removed with the agreement of the 10th Duke of Norfolk. The lead contained in the roof was sold, the carved roof destroyed and the building used as a carpenter shop after that a new slate roof was installed. Bernard, the 12th Duke, asked his architect, Robert Abraham, to do some repairs. However it was left to the 15th Duke’s architect, Charles Buckler, who was above all responsible for the rebuilding of the Arundel Castle, to complete the restoration. The roof of the Fitzalan Chapel was renewed and covered with lead in 1886. The 15th Duke of Norfolk financed the cost (£3,000). The 15th Duke also restored the main stained glass window that now commemorates his wife Flora.

The Sussex iron screen and pickets separating the chapel from the parish church are original.


The buildings that we can see today are the remains of a college for secular canons, which include a chapel, a Master’s House, and part of the cloister. It was founded in 1380 for a secular clergy to offer Masses for the founder, the 14th Earl of Arundel, and his family and to provide for the needs of the parish. Today mass is still offered for the Duke’s family and ancestors buried in the College (Fitzalan) Chapel. The College is then a “Chantry College” that is now a home for the aged under the patronage of the Duke of Norfolk and the Sovereign, Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John.

The Doomsday Book refers that there was already a similar organisation in Arundel before 1085, known as the “Clerks of St. Nicholas”, who served the parish church of Arundel of the same name. This body of secular clergy was suppressed before 1094 at the order of Roger de Montgomery, the first Earl of Arundel, and replaced by a Benedictine priory depending of the Abbey of Seez in Normandy. The Benedictine Priory Church of St. Nicholas had Priors who were also Rectors of Arundel from 1102 to 1380. In 1380 the Priory was dissolved and the rectorship passed to the master of the new College of Secular Canons, but the parish church retained the dedication to St. Nicholas.

According to the Doomsday Book there was also a chapel dedicated to St. Martin situated over the entrance to the Castle keep. Only one window remains now. A solitary chaplain, appointed by the Earl of Arundel, served the chapel. By 1275 this chapel was replaced by the Chapel of St George in the southeastern part of the castle (now the dining room). In 1344 Pope Clement VI authorised the endowment of a perpetual Chantry for three priests in the parochial church of St. Nicholas, then owned by the Priory. The Pope, later on, authorised the transfer of this foundation to the St. George Chapel. The untold aim of Richard Fitzalan, the 13th Earl of Arundel, was to transform the foundation into a College of Secular Canons. The College was not completed during the 13th Earl’s lifetime. In 1380 his son Richard, the 14th Earl of Arundel, created the College for a master and twelve chaplains, not in the Chapel of St. George in the castle but, instead, in the old Priory, which became the earl’s property. The previous convent was dissolved with the agreement of the Abbey of St. Martin of Seez. The building of the old Priory was demolished and the new College was erected in its place. It was called the “College of Holy Trinity, Our Lady and all the Saints”. It was a quadrangle with an inner court partly occupied by cloisters. The main building contained a chapel forming a chancel to the new parish church, a refectory and kitchen, the Master’s House, and the accommodations for the canons, deacons, sub-deacons and clerks. The statutes of the Colleges were drawn in 1387, when the construction was nearly completed. They say that the college should have 13 chaplains (known as secular priests or secular canons), 2 deacons, 2 sub-deacons, 2 acolytes and 4 choristers. All were permitted to leave the community, as they were no bound like a religious order. They were under no vows of poverty, and then could own properties. One was to be chosen among the clergy of the community to be the master or “custos” of the college, and another to be sub-master. Most of their activities were supposed to be done in common, including meals.

Originally a college was a corporate organisation, founded for the service of the Catholic Church. It was made up of clerics who celebrated the liturgy, the singing of the divine office in choir, and the offering of the daily Mass. It was only at the end of the Middles Ages that the word “College” was linked with education, such as the University Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Initially these colleges would also offer some form of education. The Arundel College also served the needs of the aged poor in the Hospice of the Holy Trinity, or Maison Dieu.

The College was closed in 1558 like most religious houses (Catholics). From 1380 to 1558 the College had 9 Masters. From that date to 1748 the Arundel Catholics worshipped in Slindon House. The English Catholic Hierarchy was re-established in 1850.

The College was very successful for about 150 years when it started to have financial problems due also to the tax it had to pay to finance King Henry VIII’s war with France. Finally the 22nd Earl of Arundel surrendered the College to the Crown with all its possessions on September 12, 1544. On December 23, 1544 the King granted the site of the College and all its possession to the 22nd Earl of Arundel against payment of 1,000 marks and an annual rent of £16 16s 3/4p. The buildings were destroyed later on with the exception of the chapel, the master” residence and the kitchen wing.

The remains of the College were further destroyed during the Civil War. Sir William Waller, the Commander of the parliamentary army, took the Castle in 1642 with the collusion of some local burgesses and in the absence of Thomas, the 24th Earl, who was in Padua, Italy, at that time. The Royalists, under Lord Hopton, liberated the castle on December 9, 1643 but Sir William Waller took it back on January 6, 1644. In the mean time the parliamentary forces had occupied the remains of the Old College and they damaged most of what was left, including the Chapel that they used as a stable for their horses. The ruined college and chapel remained unattended for about 150 years afterwards. However, Thomas, the 8th Duke of Norfolk, did some repairs to the chapel in the 18th century. In 1782 the 10th Duke of Norfolk (and 31st Earl of Arundel) had the old roof dismantled, the old oak beams sawed off, and the building left used as a workshop. However the chapel was still used as a burial place for the members of the Howard family, the heirs to the Fitzalan.

In 1879 the Anglican Vicar of Arundel, the Rev. George Arbuthot, wanted to use the old college chapel (known as the Fitzalan Chapel) as the chancel of the parish church. The Appeal Court confirmed that the chapel was the property of the Dukes of Norfolk, and was not part of the parish church. The 12th, 13th and 15th Dukes of Norfolk did some restoration work, and by 1866 it was in a good state again. The remaining of the college, mainly the master’s residence and the kitchen wing, were restored. The west wing became a public oratory for the local Catholic population and for the Duke’s family as well, and the eastern part became the residence of his chaplain.

The oratory is now a theatre, while the eastern part was first used as a residence for the Duke’s agent. The 14th Duke used part of the old college as a convent (St. Wilfred’s) for Carmelite nuns and, in 1861, one year after his death, the nuns were replaced by Sisters of the Servite Order. A laundry was installed in the convent to serve the castle, the oratory and, later, the Church of St. Philip. Some girls were employed in it and they were also trained for domestic service. The Sisters also ran a small school within the College, which, since was known as the Priory.

In 1960, after one hundred years, the Servite Sisters closed their school and moved out of the college building. The Arundel Priory was used as a children’s home run by Mr St. John Foti from 1960 to 1974. At that time the 16th Duke decided to use it as a home for the elderly, and it was leased for a peppercorn to the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta to this effect.

Dominican Friary and Maison Dieu

For many centuries the ruins in Mill Road, along the river, near the bridge and opposite the present day Post Office, were assumed to be those of “Maison Dieu”, or Hospital of the Holy Trinity, a hospice for the aged and infirm poor. Recent research show that these are the remains of a Dominican Friary for about twenty monks, founded in the beginning of the 13th century (possibly 1253), probably by Isabel, Countess of Arundel. These researches also showed that the real “Maison Dieu” was near the Priory to which it was linked.

After the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the buildings were left unoccupied and decayed. Thomas, the 8th Duke of Norfolk, used some of its stones to build Arundel’s first stone bridge in 1724. A few important parts of the building were still standing in 1885, but the 15th Duke cut through them in 1892 when he constructed Mill Road. He also utilised most of the remaining stones to build the new mock Tudor Post Office when he became Postmaster General in 1892. At the end of the twentieth century English Heritage spent a lot of money to preserve the remaining stones and save them for posterity. In 1993 the current Countess of Arundel unveiled a plate on the site recording this. The northern parts of the ruins were treated in 1995.

Maison Dieu was wrongly located near the bridge in “The Gentlemen’s Magazine” of 1793, which has been copied by all the other researchers until 1990. Earlier documents show that the site near the bridge was that of the Friary whereas the almshouse was near the Anglican parish church. Only an arched doorway and some scattered stones remain today. Maison Dieu, or The Hospital of the Holy Trinity, independently of where it was situated, was a project of Richard, the 13th Earl of Arundel. He wanted to found a hospice for the aged poor attached to his project for the College of the Holy Trinity, but he died in 1376 before being able to realise them. Maison Dieu was, like the College, founded by his son, Richard Fitzalan, 14th Earl of Arundel, in 1395 at the time of Richard II. It was a hospital as well as a refuge (an Almshouse) for twenty poor men, who were not married, or widowers, and who could not live any more on their own. A preference was given to the servants and the tenants of the founder and his heirs. It was initially a quadrangle containing a chapel, refectory, and chambers for the inmates. To be accepted as a guest, one had to know the Paternoster, Ave Maria and Credo in Latin. The almsmen were obliged to attend mass twice a day and to do some menial tasks. These poor men were under the responsibility of a priest who had the title of “Master”. He was to be chosen by the founder, or his heirs, among the members of the College. A prior, a Steward and four servants helped him. The income attributed to the hospital decreased with time, and it was closed for lack of money in 1545.

In the 12th century, Queen Adeliza founded a convent of Augustinian Canons. One of their duties was the maintenance of the bridge, as well as the causeway across the marshes that was built on piles. It was known as “Calceto” -the causeway- and it gave its name to the convent, Calceto Priory. In a house near the railway station one can still see the lower part of the chapel tower.


The Kelly’s Directory of 1890 mentions the new convent of Poor Clares, or Minoresses, which is located at Crossbuch. George Heveningham designed it and the cost to build it exceeded £5,000 to build it on a piece of land of about four acres given by the Duke of Norfolk. One part of it was for lay Sisters and the remaining for the recluses. Each part had its own chapel.

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