Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ancient Castle as Stately Home

What would it be like to live in a truly authentic medieval castle today? 

Situationed in West Sussex, Arundel Castle serves as the principal seat and home of the family of the Duke of Norfolk and has been in the family's ownership or over 400 years. Unlike the adventure in Wales to Conwy Castle, which is a shell of its former glory, Arundel Castle is still a running and working castle, remodeled and restored after some historical disasters.

Arundel castle's history starts, as much of English history does, with William the Conqueror. He granted the earldom of Arundel to Roger de Montgomery, who built the castle in 1067. After a few reversions to the crown, the FitzAlan family received Arundel Castle in the thirteenth century and had it until 1580. The FitzAlan line ended when it was united with the Howard family in the 1500s when Mary FitzAlan, daughter to the nineteenth earl, became the first wife of Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk. (This the same Duke of Norfolk from this entry who was executed by Elizabeth I for high treason. Arundel Castle was among the lands lost because of Norfolk's betrayal.) It was because of this marriage that the modern Dukes of Norfolk derive their surname as FitzAlan-Howard and Arundel Castle as their seat. The castle was later returned to the family. 

The castle underwent changes and restructuring to meet the requirements of the nobility throughout history. When Empress Matilda stayed at Arundel in 1139, apartments were constructed to accommodate her and her entourage, which survive to this day. The FitzAlans renovated and repaired the castle, and added to the well tower and a new entrance to the keep. A chapel was added in the fourteenth century.  The castle was badly damaged during the Civil War when it was besieged twice by the Royalist who took control, and then later by the Parliamentarian forces. The castle wasn't repaired from this damage until the 8th Duke began repairs, and the 11th Duke completed them. He desired to live and entertain at the castle over his other ducal properties. He designed and built the library, which has been revised and remodeled. The 13th Duke continued improvements to the castle, building a new suite of rooms for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's visit in 1848, and refurbishing all parts of the castle where the Queen may visit. 

The current castle was completed around 1900 by the 15th Duke and was one of the first English country houses to be fitted with electric light, service elevators, and central heating. The castle appears truly medieval from the outside, what with crenulations, towers, and arrow slits, but it has all the conveniences of the modern period within. 

No comments: