Arundel Castle is built on a chalk spur at a commanding height above the river Arun dominating the small town below.
William the Conqueror conferred the earldom on Roger de Montgomery with specific responsibilities to coastal defence. Earl Roger built a strong stone castle on the site of earlier Saxon fortification.
The 11th century mound and two baileys survive to the present day. However, no attack came from the seas. Of the three sieges that occurred in the castle's history, two were caused by direct rebellion of the castle's owners against the monarchy.
In 1102 Henry I besieged the castle. Its owner Robert de Belesme had started the building of the circular stone keep. Once in the hands of Henry I the work continued and it may have been completed by Henry II whose building at Windsor it closely resembles.
The castle was besieged again when William de Albini, who had received the Honour of Arundel in 1138, harboured the Dowager Empress Matilda who had a rival claim to that of King Stephen. Although beaten the family was allowed its tenure until the male line died out.
Passing through the female line to the Fitzlan family and then again to the Howards, dukes of Norfolk, descendants of William de Albini still live in the castle to this day.
The Fitzlan family remade the upper part of the gatehouse, the two flanking barbican towers and the four similarly shaped towers beyond the keep. They also built the chapel which still bears the family's name.
The final siege occurred in 1643 when the Parliamentarians bombarded the castle for a month.
Cromwell's troops left in 1648 ensuring the castle was in a ruinous state. After the reformation Charles II restored all the family's titles and lands. However the castle in such bad condition that the family did not return to live there for 70 years.
In the 1780's the 10th duke began restoration in the Gothic style but in the 19th century most of this work was swept away and reconstruction of a more straightforward style was undertaken.
Today what little of the original castle remains hidden by impressive late Victorian masonry.
2009: 4 Apr-1 Nov Tues-Sun plus Mondays in Aug and Bank Holiday Mondays. Chapel, Gardens & Grounds: 10:00-17:00; Castle Keep: 11:00-16:30; Castle Rooms: 12:00-17:00. Last entry 16:00
Tel: 01903 882173 Arundel Castle Website