Historic records and architectural histories: Arundel Castle

By Tim Hudson (guest blogger)

What types of historic documents do architectural historians use? Over the next few months the once Editor of the Sussex Victoria County History and co author of the updated Pevsner guide to West Sussex, Tim Hudson, will be exploring the types of records used when researching built heritage. Each blog, Tim will look at a significant West Sussex building through a variety of historic documents available at the Record Office.

His first blog takes a closer look at Arundel Castle.

The launch party for the revised Pevsner volume The Buildings of England: Sussex West, was held on 11 June in the Barons’ Hall at Arundel Castle by kind permission of the Duke of Norfolk.  The County Archivist Wendy Walker can be glimpsed among the numerous guests. 

Ian Nairn in the original edition of Pevsner’s Sussex (1965) was dismissive of this room (‘quite dead’), and of the late-C19 reconstruction of the Castle generally.  The new edition of the book is much more appreciative of both, describing the Barons’ Hall as ‘huge and spectacular; … light and colourful’.  It certainly seemed so on 11 June.

Arundel: The East View of Arundel Castle, in the County of Sussex, by Samuel & Nathaniel Buck, 1737.

The Castle’s building history is exceptionally complicated, with three major C19 rebuildings.  One essential source for architectural historians is contemporary prints, of which the Record Office has a very rich collection.  Here Buck’s view of 1737 [above] shows well the Castle’s setting and the medieval keep and curtain wall, mostly surviving today.  However, the range facing the Arun valley that contains the state rooms has been largely altered since.

The New Gateway of Arundel Castle, 25 March 1870.
(reference: F/PD 203/11)

Old prints can also depict buildings or parts of a building that have completely vanished.  An example is a mid-C19 image [above] taken from a viewpoint just inside the present Gate and Lodge at the top of Arundel’s High Street.  This shows the grand entrance to the south bailey of the Castle as then recently constructed to the designs of M E Hadfield of Sheffield.  Everything seen in this view was replaced later in the century – in fact by the present Barons’ Hall (venue for the Pevsner party) and the Duke of Norfolk’s private Chapel, both highlights of today’s Castle tour.

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3 thoughts on “Historic records and architectural histories: Arundel Castle

    1. Hi Noel, we’re chuffed that you enjoyed the blog post! We aren’t aware of a connection between the family who founded Anne Arundell and Arundel Castle. The name of the town where the castle is comes from the name of the river Arun that runs next to it.

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