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What Is Arundel Castle?

Arundel Castle features a portrait of Queen Victoria.
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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
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Arundel castle is a historic building located in the Southern English County of Sussex. The castle was originally constructed from wood in 1068 and its first occupant and owner was a Norman invader named Roger de Montgomery. For several centuries, the castle and the surrounding grounds have belonged to the Duke of Norfolk and like many ancient English castles, Arundel is a popular tourist destination.

When its original owner died, English escheat laws meant that the title of the castle was passed to the reigning monarch King Henry I. He gave the home to Adeliza of Louvain, the King's second wife; after his death she remarried and her new husband William d'Albini II took up residence in the home. Within a few years, the castle was fortified with stone walls and in 1155, King Henry II officially named the building as Arundel castle. Since the time of d'Albini, the castle has belonged to the family of the Duke of Norfolk although it passed to state control on some occasions when the seat of the Dukedom was vacant.

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In the 1400s, the powerful Howard family assumed the Dukedom of Norfolk and control of Arundel castle. Among the prominent members of the Howard clan were Lord Howard of Effingham who fought against the Spanish Armada and the third Duke of Norfolk who was closely related to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard both of whom married the English monarch Henry VIII. The castle became damaged during the English civil war but was restored to its former glory during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Arundel castle is surrounded by gardens that contain floral displays, fountains and an organic outdoor kitchen. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the garden area was much more extensive but a portion of the gardens was redeveloped to make way for a car park after the end of World War II. Three decades later, the Duke of Norfolk's family began work to reinvigorate the area and the gardens are now themed to reflect the styles favored by some of the castle's former residents.

The castle first opened its doors to tourists during the 19th century although like many inhabited historic buildings it is typically only open seasonally. Artifacts on display within the castle include a portrait of Queen Victoria who once visited Arundel castle. Additionally, several personal items that belonged to the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots who was executed at the behest of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century are also on display.

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