After touring the extensive – and absolutely gorgeous – gardens, Vicky and I headed inside for a tour of the Castle, which is one of the longest inhabited country houses in England. 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. The 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1473-1554), was uncle to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both of whom became wives of King Henry VIII (1491-1547) and only escaped the death penalty because King Henry VIII died the night before the execution was due and the 4th Duke (1536-72) was beheaded for plotting to marry Mary Queen of Scots.
Many of the original features such as the crenellated Norman keep, gatehouse and barbican and the lower part of Bevis Tower survive. During the Civil War (1642-45), the Castle was badly damaged when it was twice besieged, first by Royalists who took control, then by Cromwell’s Parliamentarian force led by William Waller. Nothing was done to rectify the damage until about 1718 when Thomas, the 8th Duke of Norfolk (1683-1732) carried out some repairs. Charles Howard, the 11th Duke (1746-1815), known to posterity as the ‘Drunken Duke’ and friend of the Prince Regent subsequently carried out further restoration. Between the 1870s and 1890s the house was almost completely rebuilt and the magnificent architecture in Gothic style is considered to be one of the great works of Victorian England.
The private chapel was built between 1890 and 1903 – its design was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral.
Gothic elements continue throughout the Castle and are shown to advantage in the dining room.
Continuing on, Vicky and I were able to appreciate how high design and comfortable spaces were frequently combined to give Arundel Castle the feel of a true family home.
Throughout the Castle, artwork and items of interest can be found at every turn.
It will come as no surprise that Victoria and I both spent quite a bit of time examining the magnificent library and its contents.
Containing about 10,000 books, the double height library is 112 feet long and occupies what was once the Elizabethan Long Gallery. It was constructed in 1815, its design influenced by St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Would you like to see Arundel Castle for yourself? We’ll be returning to the Castle on Number One London’s 2020 Regency Tour – complete itinerary and details can be found here.