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From fortress to family attraction: 950 years of Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle, one of the largest inhabited and complete castles in England, is this year celebrating the 950th anniversary of its initial construction.

Throughout its near-millennium in existence, the Castle has gone through many changes from its origins as a defensive fort to a ruin in the 17th century, before finally becoming the stately home it is today.

In fact, Arundel Castle has been involved in every major historical moment in the UK, including the English Civil War and both World Wars.

The Castle has also played a vital role in local history, with many notable moments during the past 950 years, such as when the Fitzalan Chapel was declared as a separate independent ecclesiastical structure from the parish church by Lord Chief Justice Coleridge in 1879. The Chapel is still divided from the parish church by a glass partition, an unusual, if not unique, occurrence in England.

Castle Manager, Stephen Manion, commented: “Arundel Castle is an iconic landmark – but it’s so much more than that. It is positioned at the heart of a thriving town and has been at the centre of Arundel’s community for the last 950 years.

“We are proud to be able to share Arundel Castle’s legacy with a new audience and inspire future generations with its impressive history. We have a packed year of events and gardens displays ahead – I’m sure the Castle’s 950th year will be one to remember!”

Key timeline:

1067: William the Conqueror gives the order for Arundel Castle to be built. His kinsman Roger de Montgomery locates the Castle on the River Arun in an easily defensible position.

1068: Initial construction of the Castle begins, including the 100ft earthen motte that can still be seen today.

1643: A siege breaks out at the Castle during the English Civil War. 10,000 parliamentarians lay siege to the 1,000 royalists inside the Castle for 18 days, before finally capturing it, badly damaging the west side to prevent any future occupation. The ruins lay almost untouched until the 18th Century.

1875-1900: Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk, carries out a massive reconstruction of the Castle, fitting electric lighting and central heating, cutting edge technology at the time. The heating is still functional today!

1939-44: Arundel Castle is garrisoned by British, American and Commonwealth troops during WWII, playing a key role in the south coast defences up until D-Day in 1944.

1975: Bernard, the 16th Duke, begins a loving restoration of the Castle and a charitable trust is established to ensure it will be preserved long into the future. All profits from ticket sales are put back into the maintenance and upkeep of the Castle and its historic contents.

2008: The Collector Earl’s Garden is officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales. Located on the site of a former car park, the garden is now the jewel in the crown of more than 40 acres of gardens and grounds at Arundel Castle. This year also saw the first instalment of the, now widely-renowned, Jousting and Medieval Tournament at Arundel Castle. The competition, taking place from 24-29 July 2018, is the longest of its kind in the world.
Arundel Castle is currently closed to visitors and will re-open on Sunday 30 March 2018. For more information on Arundel Castle, please visit www.arundelcastle.org.

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