The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Some years ago, the St George’s annual Parish trip went to Arundel Castle where we learnt a little of the history of the Dukes of Norfolk. This series of articles follows on from that trip to put in greater detail some of the history behind this famous family. This month we cover both the 10th and 11th Dukes.

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 Howard 3rd Duke born 1473 died 1554

Thomas  Howard 4th Duke born 1538 beheaded 1572 attainted

Sir Philip Howard Earl of Arundel born 1557 died 1595 (Saint Philip)

Thomas Howard Earl of Arundel born 1585 died 1646 (Collector Earl)

Henry Frederick Earl of Arundel born 1608 died 1652

Thomas 5th Duke  (from 1660) born  1627 died 1677

Henry 6th Duke born 1629 died 1684

Henry 7th Duke born 1655 died 1701

Thomas 8th Duke born 1683 died 1732

Edward 9th Duke born 1685 died 1777

Charles 10th Duke born 1720 died 1786

Charles 11th Duke born 1746 died 1815

Edward 9th Duke had no direct heirs and so for the first time the title was passed to a cadet line, the Greystoke family. Charles was 57 years old when he inherited and was a morose, eccentric man, addicted to history, genealogy, gardening and claret. Though a practicing Catholic he believed strongly that religion and politics should be kept well apart and he resented his exclusion from public life because of his religious beliefs. His sudden elevation to the dizzy heights of Dukedom, instead of bringing him happiness, seems to have brought him misery and for most of the remainder of his life he lived in the seclusion of his villa at Dibden (Deepdene)  where he spent most of his time renovating the house and indulging in his love of the ‘polite arts’ and music with his wife Katherine Brockholes. His garden was his principal achievement. It was of fifteen acres and was set in a natural amphitheatre with side terraces planted with cherry trees, wild thyme and myrtle. In the hillsides were caves which he used for the storage of beer for summer picnics. Aubrey defined Deepdene as ‘an epitome of Paradise’.

Charles short tenure as Duke was unbroken by any act of nobility, public scandal or private censure. He was however responsible for two acts which determined the character and future of the family though at the time they seemed modest enough.  In 1778, along with other leading Catholics he signed the petition to George III which resulted in the first measure of religious relief to Catholics and made the construction of Catholic places of worship legal. This was the harbinger of complete emancipation which followed in the nineteenth century. Charles other epoch-making decision was a private Act of Parliament in 1783 to secure the revenues from the leases of the Strand estate in London for the restoration of Arundel Castle, thus securing its place as the principal ducal seat which it still remains. Charles did not have long to enjoy these measures and he died of drink on 31st August 1786.

There could be no greater contrast between the hermit like 10th Duke and his son, Charles, who succeeded him. The 11th Duke was a larger than life extrovert, coarse, aggressive, but generous.  He was an Anglican, a Foxite Whig, and a friend of the Prince Regent. He is known as The Protestant Duke or the Drunken Duke, a man whose inelegant figure, big and stout, muscular and clumsy, with immense whiskers was destitute of grace or dignity. With his peculiar pronunciations, unwashed, sodden with claret and bubbling with contradictory ideas,  he passed through life surrounded by parasites and illegitimate children. He claimed ‘I cannot be a good Catholic, I cannot go to heaven, and if a man is to go to the devil,  the  House of Lords is as good a place as any to go from.’

Charles’ marriages were as disastrous as the rest of his life. His first  marriage as a young man was to Marian Coppinger,  but she died giving birth to a stillborn baby shortly after their marriage. The second marriage to Frances Scudamore was perhaps even more unhappy in its outcome. The Scudamores had a hereditary strain of madness in the family and this made its appearance in Frances shortly after the wedding. She was confined for the rest of her life at her home at Holme Lacey. She outlived the Duke by five years so it was impossible for him to remarry or have a legitimate heir. Charles had to console himself with a series of mistresses one of whom, Mary Gibbon, became his ‘official’ mistress and bore him 5 children. He conformed to the established church to be able to stand for Parliament which he did,  and became MP for Carlisle in 1780. He was made Lord of the Treasury in the Rockingham administration of 1783. However this was short lived as this administration fell and Charles remained in the Whig opposition for the remainder of his life.

Of all his family honours the one he treasured most was the position of Earl Marshal and he never appeared in public without dangling the precious staff of office albeit in an ungainly attitude without grace or dignity.  He was an active opponent of the slave trade and strongly favoured parliamentary reform, the two main rallying causes of the Foxite Whigs. The Duke was generous and hospitable. At Arundel he created individual suites with the names of his friends painted on the outside such as ‘Mr Fox’s room’. His entertaining was rowdy due no doubt to the lack of the civilising influence of a Duchess. Descriptions of his drinking achievements, mostly with the Prince of Wales, are legendary. He was notorious for his aversion to soap and water and it was only when he was insensible with drink that his servants were able to get him into a bath tub and give him a good scrub.

One aspect of the Duke’s character which does him greater credit was his generosity to artists, writers  and scholars. He supported Shelley with his family problems and was very generous to Sheridan to whom he lent his home at Deepdene for a time.  He improved all the Howard properties, particularly Arundel Castle and its grounds.

The high point of the Duke’s career was the entertainment he arranged at the Castle in June 1815 to celebrate the six hundredth anniversary of the Magna Carta. The first meal (about 6pm) was for seventy four people, including twenty three representatives of the various branches of the Howard families. This was followed by a ball and late supper for one hundred and sixty guests. During the first meal, which was accompanied by martial music, the entry of each course was heralded by a fanfare, the greatest of which was the entrance of a whole roasted stag carried in by two park keepers. Needless to say wine flowed generously and few could remain standing at the end of the evening. The Duke began the dancing with The Marchioness of Stafford and a further supper arrived at 1am.

This Magna Carta dinner was the swansong of the old Duke and he died shortly after of ‘water on the chest’ on 16th December 1815. He was buried at Deepdene with all the pomp due to a deceased Earl Marshal,  with his staff being broken in two and cast into the grave with the coffin.

Dying without issue he was succeeded by his third cousin Bernard Edward Howard of Glossop, making this the third line of the family to inherit the title.

Tony Rice-Oxley

Christmas Edition 2011

The Dukes of Norfolk