By Wendy Hughes
Arundel in Sussex is ten miles from Worthing.
Dominating the town sits the magnificent Arundel Castle. It was founded on Christmas Day 1067 after William the Conqueror, having successfully invaded England, won the throne.
The King granted one third of Sussex as well as lands in the Welsh Marches to his cousin Roger de Montgomery as a reward for remaining in Normandy to keep law and order while William was busy conquering England.
When Roger de Montgomery died, the castle reverted to the crown under Henry I who in turn willed it and the surrounding land to his second wife Adeliza of Louvain. Three years after Henry died she married William d’Albini II, the first Earl of the d’Aubigny family of Saint-Martin-d’Aubigny in Normandy, and it was him who built the stone shell keep on the motte.
Since 1138, Arundel Castle and the earldom, except for it occasionally being returned to the crown, have passed through the generations as the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk. The 16th Earl had planned to give the castle to the National Trust but the 17th Duke instead created an independent charitable trust to protect the castle’s future which is currently in the hands of the 18th Duke and remains the principle family home.
The castle was severely damaged by fire in the 17th century, but was restored to its former glory.
In 1846 Queen Victoria (1819-1901) with her husband Prince Albert came from Osborne Castle for a three day visited and was entertained by Henry Charles, 13th Duke of Arundel. For the occasion the bedroom and library furniture was commissioned by a leading London designer. Also a portrait of Queen Victoria was commissioned by the 13th Duke. Royal visits were expensive and cost the hosts a lot of money.
Arundel Castle is the home of several ghosts, and some claim there are at least seven! The saddest of all must be the spirit of a small boy who is thought to have worked in the kitchens around 200 years ago. It is believed that his master used to beat him, and one day he beat him so severely that the poor boy died. His ghost has been heard on many occasions, scurrying around the kitchen, or feverishly scrubbing the pots and pans, but has never been seen.
An apparition of a man appears in the library, wearing clothing of the Charles II period and has now become known as the ‘Blue Man’ because he is dressed in blue silk garments. He appears to be searching through or reading the books although it is never the same book, and he only stays for a minute or two before disappearing. He has been seen since 1630 and perhaps he is searching for some lost fact, or an inventory or a will?
The library is also haunted by a little black dog that belonged to St Philip Howard, 13th Earl of Arundel, during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Earl was sentenced to death for failing to renounce the Roman Catholic faith, although the sentence was never carried out and he spent eleven years in the Tower of London accompanied by his dog. He died in 1595, and was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Several of the guides at the castle have been asked, always by children, whose little dog wanders around the library, but as yet, no adult has ever reported seeing the dog.
An unusual ghost is that of a small white bird seen fluttering around the windows of the castle on many occasions, always before death of a resident at the castle. This would appear to indicate the imminent death of someone connected to the castle and has included the death of Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk in 1917.
The ghost of a young lady, dressed in white, can sometimes be seen at Hiorne’s Tower situated in Arundel Park, in the grounds of the castle. It is an excellent example of a folly, noted for its odd triangular construction and was built in the late 18th century by the architect Frances Hiorne to show off his skills to the Duke of Norfolk. Legend informs
us that the lady killed herself by jumping off the tower when rejected by her lover and she has been seen at the top of the tower looking for him.
The tower became a favourite filming location for Dr Who in the 1980s, and was also the setting for Invasion of Cyberman, a cult BBC programme in 1888.
The most recent sighting of a ghost was by a trainee footman in 1958. It was his duty to switch off the drawbridge lights in the evening, and this particular night he was half way along the drawbridge when he was aware of someone about 15 feet in front of him going in the same direction. As he got nearer to the person he could see the head and shoulders of a man, who was wearing a light grey tunic with loose sleeves. He had longish hair and appeared to be in his early twenties. The footman said the image was like an old photograph with the outline blurred, and the ghost
could see nothing below waist level. As he walked on the apparition seemed to fade
then disappeared completely. The terrified footman ran back along the drawbridge and forgot to switch off the lights.