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  the  13th Duke.

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

Bernard Edward 12th Duke, born 1765, died 1842

Henry Charles 13th Duke, born 1791, died 1856

Henry Granville 14th Duke born 1815 died 1860

With Henry, 15th Duke, we come nearly to the end of this long running saga about the Dukes of Norfolk. His death in 1917, just 95 years ago brings us almost up to date. Henry rebuilt Arundel Castle as a place to live in, volunteered to fight in the Boer war at the age of 56, and devoted much of his wealth to the support of the Catholic Church;  he built cathedrals, convents and seminaries, his TIMES obituary compared his influence on public life to that of Sir Thomas More. His presence was all pervasive at Arundel Castle. Apart from the fact that most of the architecture and a substantial portion of the collections reflect his personal taste, nearly every drawer and corner contains some personal memento; a photograph, a prayer book, and old invitations and sheaves of unusual black edged paper from long years of mourning. He seems inscrutable in his portraits, but the severity of his bearded face belies the twinkle in his eyes. Few men have had to endure such extremes of fortune as did Henry. For many years he had to endure great personal sadness which he did with Christian fortitude.

Henry was born in his parents’ home in Carlton Terrace on 27th December.  He was one of 6 girls and 2 boys, and they had a very happy childhood. They lived for most of the year at Arundel Castle with just a few weeks at Norfolk  House in London. There they played with the local children in St James Square and it was during one of these games that Henry got hit in the mouth by a stone breaking some teeth. This accounted for his somewhat indistinct manner of speaking.

He succeeded his father at the age of 13 and followed three pieces of advice given him by his father all his life; be honest, be humble, be generous. As a Catholic, the Duke was not able to attend an English University because of a prohibition by the Catholic hierarchy, and Henry spent a lot of his life  having this short sighted ban removed. He became of age in 1868 and celebrated this by building  a new Catholic church at Arundel dedicated to St Philip Neri. St Philips was opened in 1873 and is now Arundel Cathedral. It is easy to underestimate the resolution of this young man but he was single mindedly determined to establish his faith in England as a strong and respected faith and not just something to be tolerated. Like his father he used an enormous amount of his own resources to win respect for his co Catholics and to further a complete understanding between Catholics and Anglicans.

The Duke gradually became the principal link between the British government and the Vatican. Although there was no official British representative in the Vatican until the First World War, relations gradually became stronger thanks mainly to Henry’s efforts.

In 1877 the Duke became engaged to Lady Flora Abney-Hastings and they were married at Brompton Oratory on 2nd November.  The honeymoon was spent at Arundel Castle which was illuminated with electric light for the first time in honour of the occasion. However the Duke’s marriage was to be attended by great sorrow. They both wanted children but quite soon after the wedding the Duchess’s health began to fail and it was thought that she would not bear children. However ‘by a miracle’ a son was born in 1879 and was christened Philip to great rejoicing. However the rejoicing was short lived as the child was born blind and epileptic and his brain never developed beyond an infantile state though he did not die until he was 23. There was no cure for the child but the Duke and Duchess never gave up hope of a miracle. They took the child to Lourdes and to Turin where a certain St John Bosco was famous for his work with such children. However all this failed, but nothing diminished the couple’s love for their child. To add to the Duke’s misery his wife died on 11th April 1887 at the age of 34 after being unconscious for 2 days. Philip was just 8 when the Duke was left to care for him alone in his vast Gothic Castle. The most pathetic feature in the Duke’s life was just how much he loved his poor afflicted child.  No father could have loved a most attractive and perfect child more than he did his afflicted one. The Duke was once quoted as saying that it is a delight for him to wake up in the morning to feel that he is in the same house as the little boy.

The Duke found some relief from his loss in architecture and he began his great reconstruction of Arundel Castle in the late 1870s. The work went on for years and for much of the Duke’s remaining life the castle quadrangle was just a builders' yard filled with scaffolding poles, huts, piles of materials and mud.

Tony Rice-Oxley

• part 2 of the Duke’s life will continue in the next issue….

Summer Edition 2012

The Dukes of Norfolk