Dukes of Norfolk

At the September 2017 meeting of the History Group we were pleased to welcome Brenda Thompson, the head guide at Arundel Castle, who gave us a talk entitled The Dukes of Norfolk who Lived in Sussex.

Brenda started her talk explaining that the Dukedom was created in 1067 saying that Arundel Castle has been the principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for more than 850 years. Built in the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, the castle was seized by the crown in 1102. King Henry II, who added on to the castle, in 1155 confirmed William d'Aubigny as Earl of Arundel, with the honour and the castle of Arundel. Arundel Castle is still to this day the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their children. The Fitzalan Chapel, founded in 1390 by the 4th Earl of Arundel, is located on the western grounds outside the castle, and has been the burial place of the most recent Dukes of Norfolk.

Having such a long and distinguish history there was not sufficient time to go into great detail over the whole time span, so treated us items of Baronial title-tattle! Such as the case of the 11th Duke who owned Dorking and Surrey Estates and, due to his liking of fine wines, was referred to as the "Drunken Duke".

Brenda further explained that all past and present dukes have been descended from Edward I. The son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; the Earl was descended from both King Edward I and King Edward III.

In addition to the title of Duke of Norfolk, the Dukes of Norfolk also hold the hereditary position of Earl Marshal, which has the duty of organizing state occasions such as the state opening of Parliament. For the last five centuries, save some periods when it was under attainder, both the Dukedom and the Earl-Marshalship have been in the hands of the Howard family. According to The House of Lords Act 1999, due to his duties as Earl Marshal, Norfolk is one of only two hereditary peers automatically admitted to the House of Lords, without being elected by the general body of hereditary peers (the other being the Lord Great Chamberlain).

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Additionally, the Duke of Norfolk participates in the ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament. He is among the four individuals who precede the monarch, and one of the two of these who would traditionally walk always facing the sovereign (thus backwards), but this has not been practiced in recent years.

As the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk is head of the College of Arms, through which he regulates all matters connected with armorial bearings and standards, in addition to controlling the arrangements for state functions.

He is one of three claimants to the title of Chief Butler of England.

The Duke of Norfolk currently holds the following subsidiary titles:

  • Earl of Arundel (1289)
  • Earl of Surrey (1483)
  • Earl of Norfolk (1644)
  • Baron Beaumont (1309)
  • Baron Maltravers (1330)
  • Baron Fitzalan (1627)
  • Baron Clun (1627)
  • Baron Oswaldestre (1627)
  • Baron Howard of Glossop (1869)

Duke of Norfolk's Coat of Arms

All titles are in the Peerage of England, save for the Barony of Howard of Glossop which is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. All descend to heirs male except the Barony of Beaumont, which can pass in the female line. The style 'Earl of Arundel' is used as a courtesy title by the Duke's eldest son, the present one of which is Henry Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Arundel. The style 'Lord Maltravers' is used as a courtesy title by the eldest son of the Duke's eldest son (the Duke's grandson).

Jon Carver
October 2017