Arundel Castle has a long and rich history spanning almost a thousand years. First established in 1067 by Roger De Montgomery, Arundel Castle has seen its fair share of conflict, peace, and changes. It has remarkedly descended directly in a continuous line since 1138, albeit with a few temporary forfeitures to the crown. After being damaged in the English Civil War the castle had to undergo an extensive restoration process. This was carried out by the 11th Duke of York, Charles Howard during both the 18th and 19th Century. Today, Arundel Castle remains the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, the dukedom currently being held by the 18th Duke, Edward Fitzalan-Howard.
The garden surrounding the castle has been open since 1854, providing the public with a luxurious retreat into nature should they desire it. The walled gardens are truly a sight to behold. Within these walls is the world-famous Collector Earl’s Garden. Recently restored by award-winning design duo, Julian and Isabel Bannerman, this garden acts as a memorial dedicated to the 14th Earl of Arundel, Thomas Howard (1585 – 1646). Howard was known as the Collector Earl due to the vast collection of paintings (some 700) along with sculpture, books, prints, drawings and antique jewellery he amassed during his lifetime. Personal touches have been used to commemorate the Earl including monumental green oak constructions, each one a creation pulled from the drawings of Inigo Jones, who was a close friend of the Earl.
The gardens are also home to The Stumpery; a curious garden feature popular during the Victorian era although somewhat out of fashion now. The dark colours and contorted forms of the stumps are contrasted beautifully by the lavish green plants and flowers that thread through them. The Herbaceous Borders found throughout the garden are the perfect continuous piece, holding contrasting colours and varying types of foliage plants including many exotics and tender species that remain in the ground even throughout the colder winter months.
Within the grounds is an Organic Kitchen Garden which continues to be used to provide the castle with a continuous supply of fresh vegetables and fruits, along with glorious cut flowers. This supply is aided by the vinery, originally built by Clarke and Hope in 1850 and now fully restored. More traditional English flowers grow here under the imposing gaze of Arundel Cathedral, including roses, Lady's mantle and lavender, of course.
Beyond the walled garden, historic architecture blends with extensive grounds and touches of auspiciousness. Dating to 1380, the Fitzalan Chapel is home to a serene, formal white garden featuring roses, cosmos and cleomes amongst others. Where a Medieval bowling green once stood, there is now a Rose Garden featuring traditional English roses. Avenues of trees, a wild water garden and swathes of wildflowers add to the atmosphere of the surrounding scene.
Arundel Castle hosts an Annual Tulip Festival during the month of April. This festival sees the emergence of over sixty thousand flowers throughout the castle grounds. After these flowers have been shown off in full splendour, fireworks take to the sky in what is known colloquially as the ‘Allium Extravaganza’.
Arundel Castle provides the perfect place to visit for those looking to be impressed. Grand, exotic and charming in equal measure, this is the place to overuse those ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.
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Images © Eliza Ford