Close your eyes and imagine the quintessential English castle and you will probably come close to picturing Arundel. Founded in 1067 this rambling castle invites you to step back in time.
Climb the stone staircases to walk along its battlements or stroll through the maze of sumptuously decorated rooms and you can almost feel history seeping through the walls.
Saved from ruin by constant occupation it has been restored at various points in its history and is still home to the Dukes of Norfolk, chillingly it is also still home to the Arundel Castle ghosts.
A Brief History of Arundel Castle
The stunning Arundel Castle was founded in 1067 by a cousin of William the Conqueror, Roger de Montgomery.
Built at a pivotal point in the history of the British Isles, its walls have borne witness to some of the key events of subsequent times. Passing largely down the female line it became the seat of the Fitzalans, the Howards and then the Dukes of Norfolk.
The Howards of course were at the forefront of Tudor history, with Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn becoming two of the wives of Henry VIII. A political family not adverse to intrigue and plotting, they saw their share of executions and imprisonments.
During the English civil war the castle was badly damaged. Besieged by the Royalists and then by Cromwell, large parts were left to crumble and decay until Victorian times.
Now beautifully restored, it attracts visitors from all over the world keen to experience its history and perhaps catch a glimpse of its ghostly occupants.
The Four Ghosts of Arundel Castle
The Blue Man
Step inside the library of Arundel Castle and you can’t fail to be impressed: Gothic vaulted ceilings, luxurious hand woven carpets and plush red velvet sofas make it immensely comfortable.
Who wouldn’t want to stay awhile and curl up with a good book, there are literally thousands available. It seems at least one visitor to the castle can’t help himself. He finds the library at Arundel Castle so compelling he has hung around for the last 450 years.
Known as the Blue Man and wearing the foppish garb of a cavalier, his apparition often appears in the library. Witnessed since the English civil war he seems intent on reading his way through the thousands of dusty tomes filed carefully away on the library shelves.
The ghost of the Blue Man is said to be so clear that witnesses can read the title of the book he is perusing. Each time he appears he is seen reading a different book.
What is he searching for? One thing is for sure the answer lies within the library and this ghost is not going to give up until he finds the answer.
The Kitchen Boy
Travel back in time a couple of hundred years and imagine the kitchen of Arundel Castle in the Georgian era. A time when there were few labor saving devices and when children of poor families were expected to work.
During this period it would not have been unusual to find one or two children working long hours in the Arundel kitchen.
A job in a kitchen would not have been the worst in the world, after all you would be warm and probably have enough to eat.
But for one little boy who worked as a scullery lad at Arundel Castle, life was hell. Beaten, bullied and abused he is rumored to have died tragically young when his little body succumbed to the punishments he had to endure on a daily basis.
Sadly the young lad did not find peace in death. Visit the kitchen today and you may catch a glimpse of him or hear him anxiously trying to complete his daily tasks.
Unable to rest he is often heard clattering pots and pans into the wee small hours as he hastily tries to clean them and avoid another beating before bedtime.
The White Lady
No self-respecting castle would be complete without its own ghostly white lady and Arundel doesn’t disappoint.
Separated from the main castle, the triangular Hiorns Tower was built as a folly during Victorian times. Designed to test the architects who were to restore the castle, it still stands in the grounds and is open to visitors.
Approached by a steep hill and overlooking a lake, the tower is hauntingly beautiful and deeply romantic. One can imagine that it has been the trysting place for many liaisons over the years.
What drew the white lady to the tower one moonlit night in Victorian times, we will never really know. Was she expecting an assignation with her lover who stood her up? Was she drawn by poignant memories of happier times?
Whatever the reason a young pregnant woman made her way up the hill, the full moon and the stars her only light on a dark night.
Reaching the tower she climbed its stone staircase and then overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness threw herself to her death on the ground below.
Sadly, the white lady is still tied to the tower in death. Her apparition appears on moonlit nights, witnessed by the Arundel gamekeepers.
The poor woman is said to gaze forlornly down the hill. Is she still waiting for a lover to come and rescue her from her tragic fate?
The White Bird
Before its restoration Arundel Castle was home to a parliament of American White Owls. Deeply significant in the history of folklore, many myths and stories surround these beautiful creatures.
Interestingly, the owls that once resided in the crumbling keep of Arundel Castle are viewed by American Indians as harbingers of sickness and death. Whether or not the owners of Arundel Castle knew this when they decided to breed the creatures, isn’t known.
For the past few centuries though, the story of the ghostly bird of Arundel Castle has gathered momentum.
The white bird appears to castle residents before their death. Is it the spirit of one of the owls who lived here?
Often heard fluttering desperately at the windows of the castle, it is best ignored. To see it will surely bring grave misfortune, sickness and death.
For those who wish to steep themselves in the history of England, a trip to Arundel Castle must surely be on the bucket list. The stuff of fairy tales, its crumbling medieval walls have been restored to their former glory.
To walk through its halls, chapels and gardens is to walk through the pages of a thousand years of history. Betrayal, intrigue and siege have scarred its past and shaped its future.
Small wonder then, that some have refused to leave its walls in death. At least four ghostly spectres make a regular appearance in the castle but many more are said to roam this vast complex of turrets, corridors and dungeons.
For those keen to spot a ghostly presence, look out for Roger de Montgomery as you ascend the castle keep or catch a glimpse of a headless apparition as you stroll through the baronial hall.
By all means investigate the Arundel Castle ghosts, but a word of caution, never, never, turn to hear the fluttering wings of a small white bird.