Arundel Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Arundel Castle

Arundel, England, United Kingdom

Originally built in the 11th Century, Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk and has been continually occupied and renovated over the centuries.

Lily Johnson

09 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is the historic home of the Dukes of Norfolk, having been occupied by their line for over 850 years. Amongst the dynasties to have inhabited Arundel Castle, the highly influential Howard family are most notable, and still occupy the eminent site today. With aspects dating from the medieval and early modern periods, Arundel Castle is the perfect visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Britain’s fascinating past.

Arundel Castle history

The first structure on the Arundel Castle site was built in the 11th Century by the Normans after the invasion of William the Conqueror, with the earthworks and first buildings completed by 1070. William d’Aubiny, the first Earl of Arundel, inherited the castle in 1138, followed by the FitzAlan family in the 13th century who undertook a large programme of renovation.

In the 16th century, Arundel Castle came into the possession of the Howard family when FitzAlan heiress Mary married Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. His grandfather had been the eminent 3rd Duke of Norfolk and uncle of both Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill-fated second and fifth wives. Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk himself would be executed by Elizabeth I for his involvement in the Ridolfi plot, in which he conspired to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and place her on the throne.

During the English Civil War, Arundel Castle was besieged twice – first by the Royalists who successfully captured the site and then by the Parliamentarians, whose siege lasted 18 days. Following this, Parliament ordered the slighting of the castle, a process that deliberately damaged it to reduce its value as a royal military stronghold.

In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed at Arundel Castle, before which the 13th Duke of Norfolk undertook a large remodelling scheme to accommodate them. The scheme paid off, with Victoria commenting on the beauty of the castle and the friendly reception she received.

Arundel Castle is one West Sussex’s greatest attractions with a history spanning nearly a thousand years. It has its roots in Norman times, originally built at the end of the 11th century by the then Earl of Arundel, Roger de Montgomery. The keep Montgomery created was initially made out of wood, but was later replaced by stone.
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Arundel Castle today

Today, Arundel Castle remains a vast complex, with many original features still intact such as the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse, and Barbican. It is home to an impressive array of priceless artwork, such as works by Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto, as well as a vast collection of furniture, sculptures and tapestries.

The displays also include possessions of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the collection of furniture especially purchased for Queen Victoria’s visit, including the bed she slept in!

Arundel’s gardens also provide a fascinating visit, with Tropical and English gardens, a unique stumpery, and Warm Glasshouses that grow chillis, grapes and lemons to explore.

Getting to Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is located in the town of Arundel in West Sussex. A carpark is available directly across from the castle’s entrance, while regular trains come through Arundel station, a 10-minute walk away. The nearest bus stop is a 6-minute walk away at the Norfolk Arms.

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