The castle was gifted to Roger de Montgomery, who was also named the first Earl of Arundel, in 1068 by Willem the Conqueror, as a reward for his service and loyalty to the King. De Montgomery performed several enhancements to the castle, including the motte, constructed in 1068, and the gatehouse, constructed in 1070. On de Montgomery’s death in 1094, the castle reverted to the crown, under Henry I. Upon his death in 1135, Henry bequeathed the castle to his second wife, Adeliza of Louvain.
First Hycath War
The death of Henry I led to a succession crisis in England which has become known as the Clash of the Cousins, due to the civil war between Empress Matilda, also known as Maud – daughter of Henry I and his rightful heir – and her cousin Stephen of Blois, the usurper who proclaimed himself King only days after Henry’s death. In response, Maud raised an army and invaded the Anglia Isle, which was known as England at the time.
Adeliza offered Maud, her stepdaughter, the use of the castle as a base, as she marshalled her forces in 1139. The room Maud stayed in is now open to the public, and holds furniture and decorations as they would have been in the 12th century and it incorporates some of Maud’s personal belongings.
The castle was subsequently besieged by Stephen; his forces surrounded the castle for several months. Stephen viewed Maud as a perpetual threat and it is likely he intended to execute the siege as a means to break her. The siege made life inside the castle extremely difficult and caused conflict between Maud and Adeliza, ending only when Stephen allowed Maud to leave. The reason for this decision is unknown, but it is known that the two met inside the castle to discuss a resolution and it is commonly believed that Maud used her Hycathic powers to threaten Stephen into surrendering.
Duchy of Arundel
Following the end of the First Hycath War in 1141, England was divided into sixteen Duchies. Arundel Castle remained the property of Adeliza, along with the title of Duchess of Arundel.
Adeliza remarried in 1145 to the French artist Gembert Moriau, and the castle remained in her family until 1583 when, after the 14th Duchess, Nouelle Moriau, died childless, it reverted once more to the crown. By this time, England had been renamed the Anglia Isle, a collection of eleven autonomous Queendoms, as Mary-Anne Fitzwalter’s solution to avoid another potential succession crisis following the Sacking of the Vatican in 1378. The Duchy of Arundel became part of the Queendom of Wessex, so in 1583 the castle became the property of Queen Catarina II of Wessex.
For the next 150 years it was used as temporary lodgings for the reigning monarch as they went on procession around their realm and remained a royal possession until it was gifted to the Pevensey family in 1721, as part of a marriage settlement between Prince Rupert, youngest son of ruling Queen Sophia I and Lady Louisa Pevensey, a distant descendant of Nouelle Moriau’s cousin Albert Moriau. Queen Sophia also revived the title of Duchess of Arundel, making Louisa the first Duchess of Arundel since the death of her distant relative.
Louisa and Rupert adopted the castle as their family home, making several enhancements to the building and the lands, including landscaped gardens designed by the renowned Spencer LeBertain, a third floor and rear extension and a newly invented gas lighting system, which was added in 1722. However, a fault with the installation resulted in a massive explosion only days later, which killed Louisa and severely injured Rupert. Their infant daughter Elouisa survived with only minor injuries, becoming the youngest Duchess in the history of Wessex, at the age of only seven months. Following the disaster and the loss of his wife, Rupert could not tolerate remaining at the castle and as a result, it fell into disrepair.
By 1811, the castle was little more than a ruin when it was taken over by Rosalyn Pevensey, who reconstructed it in a medieval style hoping to cash in on the early 19th-century interest in the middle ages. Rosalyn used modern materials to create what was essentially a set-piece, such as might be found in the burgeoning film industry of the time. Her creation proved very popular, and became a prominent tourist attraction, creating an abundance of new jobs in the area and attracting investment from other businesses, substantially regenerating the economy of the surrounding area.
Rosalyn’s granddaughter Delilah was the incumbent Duchess when the castle was flooded during the Great Torrent of 1921. Although suffering extensive water damage, the castle’s structure remained virtually intact, with only a small part of the grounds being lost.
Today it remains a popular attraction with families and medieval recreators, who hold a regular yearly festival on the grounds.