Fascinating facts from Arundel’s past

The entrance arch to the castle for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's visit in December, 1846

The entrance arch to the castle for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's visit in December, 1846

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When researching the varied history of Arundel, one will occasionally stumble across a fascinating fact or piece of information but not enough for a complete article.

I have decided to use a selection of these snippets for this month’s article in anticipation that readers will find many of them both new and interesting.

Arundel castle keep was illuminated to welcome Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the town in December,1846

Arundel castle keep was illuminated to welcome Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the town in December,1846

• There was an old belief in Arundel that said if you stood in the middle of the bridge on March 1 and shook yourself, you would be free of fleas for the rest of the year. It is not recorded if this would work on pets, though.

• The Hospital of St James for female lepers stood on a site near Park Bottom between 1182 and 1301. Records note that by 1435, the then-unused building was just occupied by a hermit.

• Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed in Arundel Castle from December 1 to 3, 1846. Victoria notes in her diary for December 2 that year: “After breakfast, Albert and I sallied forth by a back way and walked along a path below the castle, commanding an extensive view, which put us in mind of the slopes at Windsor. The garden is very pretty and full of evergreens, which made Albert extremely jealous for Osborne.”

• The current black-hemmed robes with silk velvet worn by Arundel town councillors were made especially for Victoria’s 1846 visit. As this took place in December, it explains why they are so thick and heavy, which makes them very hot to wear during the warmer months.

Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), who designed Arundel Cathedral, as well as a number of other buildings in the town

Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), who designed Arundel Cathedral, as well as a number of other buildings in the town

• In October, 1940, the second in command of the Arundel Home Guard, William Holmes, was fined £30 and imprisoned for three months after being seen taking covert photos of planes at nearby Ford Airfield. It emerged at the trial that Holmes, who was educated at Sandhurst, was the son of a well-known German doctor.

• Arundel Cathedral opened in 1873 as a Catholic church. It was only raised to cathedral status in 1965 when the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was created. The original design by Hansom included a huge spire built on separate foundations. The base support had already been completed before the engineers abandoned the project after realising the ground would not be able to support the massive weight of the spire.

However, 11 years later, Hansom used a very similar design to his original spire plan in the build of St Walburge’s Catholic Church, Preston. This huge 307ft spire is the third tallest in Britain.

• Arundel parishioner Bernard Cuthbert Taylor, born in Arundel at 16 Bond Street, in 1889, perished while working as a steward on the Titanic during its maiden voyage.

The Mayor and Councillors of Arundel Town Council wearing the robes originally made for Queen Victoria's 1846 visit to the town

The Mayor and Councillors of Arundel Town Council wearing the robes originally made for Queen Victoria's 1846 visit to the town

• The town stocks and whipping post that are referred to in late 18th-century documents were believed to have been located along Mill Lane, next to one of the two animal pounds – the other being located in Queens Lane, near the current Norfolk Centre.

• Grounds Coffee Shop, in Arundel High Street, was built toward the end of the 1700s on the site of Mincing Lane, which used to run from the High Street and emerged part way along Tarrant Street, now used as a footpath into Crown Yard car park.

• Mill Lane, now a dead end, was the main route to Offham before Mill Road was built in 1894, by the Duke of Norfolk. In the 13th century, the lane was known as Jury Lane, a reference to the Jewish community which used to live there.

The second building on the left along Mill Lane was the Gardeners Arms Inn for a short time in 1841–50.

St Walburge's Church in Preston has a very similar spire to the one originally designed for Arundel Cathedral

St Walburge's Church in Preston has a very similar spire to the one originally designed for Arundel Cathedral

• And finally, as I am constantly reminded by my town councillor colleague and dedicated Arundel town crier, Angela Standing, town criers used to be protected by law as they sometimes brought bad news, such as tax increases.

Anything done by the town crier was done in the name of the ruling monarch and harming a town crier was considered to be treason.

Or as Angela could say, ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’!

Forthcoming events at Arundel Museum

• Friday, June 6, The defence of Arundel in WWII”, a talk by John Wells. 7.30pm for 8pm at the Norfolk Arms.

• Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15, Arundel residents’ free entry to the museum.

• Saturday, June 21, storytelling in the museum.

For more details call 01903 or visit www.arundelmuseum.org