Arundel Castle, Sussex, U.K. the vast 100-roomed home of the Duke of Norfolk, Britain's Premier?
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Background: Arundel Castle, Sussex, U.K. the vast 100-roomed home of the Duke of Norfolk, Britain's Premier Peer, has become yet another "victim" of rising rates and taxes. The long struggle by the Duke to maintain his Castle as his home, ended recently with the news that he is moving next summer into a dower house on the Arundel Estate.
As a "showpiece" Arundel Castle will still open its doors to entrance fee paying visitors. It was in this way that the Duke and his family have managed to live there since the war.
Since the 16th Century, the Premier Dukes of England have lived in Arundel. When the present Duke took over in 1917, the Castle was in good condition, following major rebuilding at the turn of the Century. But even then, death duties had reduced the considerable Norfolk fortunes from GBP17 million to GBP5 million.
After the war, the Duke fought to make his castle pay its way. Undercutting competitors by sixpence, he opened it to the public at 2s a head. Since then 100,000 visitors have admired the ancestral home each year. Contributions helped, but did not nearly cover the cost of running the castle with its butler and staff of nine. In 1945, the Duke sold GBP10,000 worth of furniture. Five years later he sold property worth GBP70,000, and 1,600 acres of land to meet bills.
Then in 1957, under a controversial Private Bill, the Duke offered the Castle to the nation, along with a GBP250,000 trust fund, providing his family could live there in perpetuity while the castle was maintained by the National trustees. After a stormy reading in the House of Commons, the Bill was passed --- merely permitting the Duke to dispose of the Castle as he pleased.
Soon afterwards he made plans for a dower house, within half-a-mile of the Castle's towering Gothic battlements. Here with his wife an four daughters he will make his home - while retaining the Castle as a showpiece. This move will mean considerable saving on rates. it cost Duke GBP12,500 a year to run Arundel, with an annual bill for rates of GBP2,000. But England's Earl Marshal, and leading Roman Catholic layman, is philosophical about the break with tradition. "The time has come to save money. But Arundel will go on. I do not propose to give it all up now."