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The Duke of Norfolk's archives form one of the largest private collections in the country. Those kept at the Castle include all the family papers and the southern estate papers (Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex and London). The northern estate papers, except title deeds, are on loan-deposit at Sheffield Record Office and Hull University Library. The collections at Arundel comprise documents from the 12th century to the 20th century.
The Archives have only been concentrated at Arundel since the Second World War. Until 1938 the Muniment Room was at Norfolk House in London and all the deeds and medieval court rolls were kept there. These form the historic core of the collection and were catalogued by the Duke's Archivist, Charles Kent in 1889, though that catalogue is now being revised.
The conscious conservation and accumulation of historic papers began in the late 18th century. The 11th Duke employed various scholars and antiquarians to sort and study the papers, including his kinsman Henry Howard of Corby who sorted many of the deeds in the course of researching his book, The Memorials of the Howard Family (1834). The 12th, 13th and 14th Dukes employed the Revd. Mark Aloysius Tierney as their chaplain and archivist from circa 1815 to circa 1850. He wrote The History and Antiquities of Arundel (1834), still the standard work .
The 15th Duke of Norfolk spent a lot of money on the archives in the late 19th century, refitting the muniment room at Norfolk House and cataloguing and repairing the collection. He employed Charles Kent in the late 19th century. From 1900 until his death in 1947 the Librarian and Archivist was Mr. R.H. Wilton, a former Anglican vicar of Everingham, who became Catholic. From 1950 until his death in 1978 Dr. Francis Steer was the Librarian and Archivist and since 1979 Dr John Martin Robinson.
The 4 archive catalogues produced by Dr. Francis Steer (published 1968-1980 by West Sussex County Council) are now on line (see How to use the Archives). Copies of all new lists are kept by the National Archives at Kew. A comprehensive guide to all archive collections has also been published.
We regret that we are unable to undertake genealogical research but if you are interested in heraldry and genealogy you might like to visit the College of Arms' web site: www.college-of-arms.gov.uk and if you are interested in any aspect of UK history try www.history.uk.com.
The commercial papers of John Aylward merchant of Waterford, Eire, the 10th Duke's great grandfather.
The papers of Admiral Lord Lyons, British Ambassador to Greece, and the 2nd Lord Lyons, Ambassador to Washington. The 1st Lord Lyons was the 15th Duke's grandfather.
Relating to Arundel Castle, Norfolk House and other family properties.
Family wills, including that of Bess of Hardwick, grandmother of Alathea, Countess of Arundel
The medieval College of Arundel records preserved or copied as part of the 19th century litigation to establish finally the Howard family's ownership of the Chapel.
Predominantly covering the estates in Sussex, Surrey and Norfolk, as well as the Strand Estate, London. Map of the Manor of Shifnall 1635 Garden Layout at Worksop Manor by Charles Bridgeman late 17th century
Re Rotten Borough representation (owned by the 11th Duke of Norfolk) pre Parliamentary Reform (1832)
Pedigrees, family settlements, commissions, honours and peerages.
The earliest letter is signed by Henry VIII
The 15th Duke's brother was heir to the unsettled estates of the Earls of Shrewsbury and inherited documents relating to land in Staffordshire and Oxfordshire.
Relating to estates in over a score of English and Welsh counties
Court rolls, rentals, accounts etc. in Sussex, Surrey, Norfolk, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Cumbria and other areas containing details re: towns and villages, buildings, mines, investments, woodland, rivers, harbours, ferries, foreshore etc.
The Duke of Norfolk is the hereditary Earl Marshal, one of the great offices of State, responsible for State Ceremonial including the Coronation.
Papers arising from litigation and estate management, notably those generated by Few & Co., London, and Holmes & Campbell, Sussex