The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

Sir Robert Howard, born  1385, Died 1426

Sir John Howard (1st Duke) born 1420   Died 1483 at Bosworth Field

Thomas Howard (2nd Duke) born 1444, Died 1524

Thomas (3rd Duke), born 1473, Died  1554

Thomas (4th) Duke, born  1538, Beheaded 1572

St. Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, born 1557, Died 1595

Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, born 1585, Died 1646

The death of James I did not seem to affect Buckingham’s position as Royal favourite and animosity towards him increased.  Buckingham blamed Thomas for much of this and when Thomas’ eldest son, Henry Frederick, without royal consent, married the Duke of Lennox’ daughter, whom Charles I had intended to marry Lord Lorne, Buckingham used the incident to get Thomas banned from Court. He was again imprisoned and fined heavily. The Lords demanded his release and refused to conduct any further business until he was freed. Almost against his better wishes he found himself to be head of Buckingham’s opponents. Before this matter could proceed, Buckingham was assassinated in Plymouth and Thomas regained his rightful place at the King’s Court. He became a leading figure on the Privy Council and was employed on two very important diplomatic missions for Charles. These enhanced his reputation as a statesman and he gained further favour with the king. During his many trips to the Continent he rarely came back empty handed and his collection of valuables grew rapidly. He fell in love with Venice and included this in many of his trips. He was always splendidly received by the Doge and was treated as if he was of vice regal status.

At Arundel House in the Strand he embarked on an ambitious programme to transform the rambling Tudor building into a formal palace on the Italian model.

1616 was Thomas’s best year as a collector and that year saw a dramatic expansion due to gifts, good fortune, timely deaths and the hard work of excellent agents on the Continent. He was one of the principal backers of Mytens who came to England in 1617 and who painted the famous pair of portraits of the Earl and Countess now at Arundel Castle. Shortly after he managed to secure the services of Van Dyck who came to London in the winter of 1620.

Thomas established a workshop for the restoration of antique sculptures and he employed a librarian of International renown, one Francis Junious,  to manage the venture. Altogether Thomas was collecting a vast array of artefacts and holding them in the keeping of expert guardians.

By 1630, old Master drawings had succeeded sculpture as Thomas’ chief enthusiasm, and his collection of drawings was reputed to be the finest in Europe. His other love was antique gems and it was rumoured that he paid a staggering 10,000 for the Nys collection.

His extravagance led him to the verge of bankruptcy. He sold land and timber from forests but this was immediately absorbed in his fines for his son’s  marriage. At one stage he toyed with the idea of retiring to live in Madagascar and the Van Dyck portrait shows him pointing to Madagascar on a nearby globe. He tried to buy Lundy Isle  and got involved in trying to reclaim the 4th Duke’s estates in Ireland.

The 1630s were the highpoint of Thomas’s career, a period in which he enjoyed ever increasing favour of his Sovereign and in which his collections reached their greatest extent. His appearance at that time is well recorded in Van Dyck’s magnificent portrait of Thomas with ‘little Tom’ his grandson (later to be 5th Duke of Norfolk).

In March 1641 the Earl of Strafford was condemned and executed. Arundel was appointed High Steward for the trial which he conducted in a just and dignified manner. He escorted members of the royal family abroad. One of these trips was with Princess Mary to her marriage to Prince William of Orange. After this trip he did not return home. The clouds of civil war were gathering and he headed south to his beloved Venice and settled in his villa in Padua for the last four years of his life. Conflict between King and Parliament was now inevitable and he contented himself with making generous donations to the Royalist cause and leaving his son, Henry Frederick to fight in the Royalist army.

Before leaving England he petitioned the King for the restoration of the Dukedom of Norfolk. This had no immediate result but in 1644 the King created Arundel Earl of Norfolk thereby ensuring that the title remained in the Howard family.

Civil war wrought havoc in the country and Arundel Castle was besieged and  reduced to ruins. Arundel House was occupied by troops and many of the precious marbles were broken and ill-treated.

The Earl died in Padua in 1646 and his body was brought back to England and buried in the Fitzalan chapel but his heart was left in Padua in St Anthony’s Basilica. He was succeeded as Earl of Arundel, Surrey and Norfolk by his son Henry Frederick.

Tony Rice-Oxley



Winter Edition 2011

The Dukes of Norfolk - The Collector Earl - Part 2