Set on a hill overlooking the River Arun, Arundel Castle dominates the local landscape and has done so since the reign of William the Conqueror, when Roger de Montgomery was appointed Earl of Arundel. Apart from the occasional reversion to the Crown, Arundel Castle has descended directly from 1138 to the present day, carried by female heiresses from the d'Albinis to the Fitzalans in the 13th century and then from the Fitzalans to the Howards in the 16th century and it has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 850 years. Following much damage during the Civil War, the Duke’s returned in the 1720’s and began buying up land, investing in the Town and restoring the Castle.
On what was the Society’s second recent visit to West Sussex, seventeen members met at the Lower Gate to the Castle to embark on a tour of the home of our President, The Earl Marshal, The Duke of Norfolk.
The highlight of our visit was undoubtedly the magnificent range of manuscripts and books laid out for our inspection in the Castle’s Smoking Room. With the Castle Archive occupying the whole of one of the towers, it was of necessity, a curated selection, but the colour and vibrancy of the exhibits; which alone were valued at some £2M; proved fascinating viewing.
One armorial included the arms of all the Knights of the Garter and dated from the 1500’s all superbly inscribed and painted.
Tabard of Charles Alban Buckler, Surrey Herald Extraordinary.
Other exhibits included the tabard of Charles Alban Buckler, Surrey Herald Extraordinary, who was responsible for guiding most of the Victorian restoration of the Castle as well as ensuring the heraldry of the Arundel, Fitzalan, D’Albini and Howard families were incorporated into the fabric of the building and the stained glass windows. Buckler apparently spent a great deal of time at the College researching and ensuring the heraldic references were historically accurate. It must have helped that no expense was spared on the restoration. Whilst the original Castle dates back to 1067, the tastes of the Victorian Dukes and their wealth has ensured the Castle will remain well preserved and an attractive location to visit for many centuries to come.
The visit; which took place on Wednesday 11th September 2019; also included a tour of the Castle led by our excellent guides Tomiko and Judy. We visited the Baron’s Hall, The Armoury, The Private Chapel and the Fitzalan Chapel as well as Queen Victoria’s bedroom and the Ante-Library. A somewhat deflated White Lion greeted us in the Baron’s Hall. Shot on safari by Bernard the 16th Duke in the 1930’s he remains a reminder of the last days of the ‘grand tour’ enjoyed by many of the Duke’s ancestors.
The afternoon continued with a visit to St.Nicholas Church which is conjoined with the Fitzalan Chapel and dates back to 1380. The people of the Town worshipped in the nave, whilst the chancel acted as the collegiate chapel and chantry and the two parts of the Church are still divided by an iron grille and glass panels.
The final destination was Arundel Cathedral, built in French Gothic style by the 21 year old Henry, 15th Duke, between 1869 and 1873. The architect was Joseph Hansom, of Hansom cab fame. It was originally dedicated to St.Philip Neri and only became a Cathedral on the formation of the new Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton in 1965.
Whilst heraldic display in the Cathedral is limited there is an excellent modern stained glass window dedicated to the martyred 13th Earl of Arundel, St. Philip Howard (1557-1595) whose remains were re-buried in the Cathedral in 1971. The Cathedral was re-dedicated to ‘Our Lady and St. Philip Howard’ two years later.
(c) The White Lion Society 2021