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Arundel Facts

 Extracts researched and provided by Mark Phillips
  • During the English civil war (1642-1651), a Roundhead deserter by the name of Richard Smith, was arrested by a guard near Arundel. He had been hired for £1 to carry a message to the Royalist General Hopton. As deterrent. He was hanged on the old wooden Arundel bridge within sight of the castle as a Royalist spy and in view of the castle defenders.
  • According to local tradition, if you shake yourself on the Bridge on 1st March you will be free from fleas for the rest of the year.
  • Since 1850 Arundel has lost about two thirds of its High Street. Where the street turns left at the top of the hill, this used to carry on right up into what are now the castle grounds, behind St Nicholas Church and emerge through the gateway known at the Mark Gate Arch. The Duke demolished all these shops and built the wall around the castle grounds which commences half way up the High Street next to the Book Ferret shop and continues to the top of the hill and around to the left where it effectively cuts off the last third of the old High Street.
  • Although there are numerous tunnels and cellars under The High Street and Tarrant Street, there are no known 'secret' tunnels leading into or out of the castle grounds.
  • Up until the mid 1900's, it was traditional for the townsfolk to bake a Mullet pie and present it to the Mayor.
  • Mill Lane, the road that leads to Swanbourne lake and the Black Rabbit pub was built by Duke Henry and opened in 1894 and is still called 'New Road ' by many older locals. Prior to this, access was via Mill Lane which is now a dead end after 50m as it was sliced in half with the castle entrance and wall which was built around the same time as Mill Road. In the 13th century, this lane was known as Jury Lane, a reference to the Jewish community who used to live there.
  • In the 1940's, a young electrician discovered a sealed room about 5m square on the top floor of what is now the Book Ferret shop in the High Street. The room was covered in cobwebs and there was no sign of any blocked up entrance or exit. This room, whose original purpose is unknown, has since been converted into a bathroom.
  • The old Court house used to be situated in the middle of the High Street roughly where the war memorial now stands. This was demolished in the mid 1700's because of its poor condition. Other buildings in the area were also demolished to make way for a brand new Town Hall but this did not go ahead after the owner of one building stubbornly refused to sell. The Town Council then met up in a room within the current Fitzalan chapel building until the Duke managed to persuade them to move out in return for a brand new town hall. This was built at the top of Maltravers street in 1834-5.
  • In the early 1900's, one of the shopkeepers in Tarrant Street was nicknamed 'Granny Weighfinger' by the children of the town because she had a habit of pressing the scales down with her finger while weighing out sweets.
  • A large gateway into the town known locally as the 'Watergate' or 'Marshgate' used to exist in the lower part of what we now know as Maltravers Street at the junction with School Lane and Park Place. The last mention of this gate was in 1785.
  • In 1570, the Borough Pound for stray animals was located in the old Mill Lane. Records show that this was sold to the Duke of Norfolk in 1801. There are also records of another pound located in Queens Lane.
  • The large Swallow statue that can be seen on the roof of the Town Hall original came from the roof of the Swallow Brewery in Queen Street. This was a huge building with its entrance roughly where the Co op entrance is now. The original swallow was carved from wood but the one currently on the town is a fibreglass replacement after the original rotted away.
  • When the town bridge was being upgraded in 1935, the engineers decided to divert the full force of the mighty river Arun, (then the second fastest flowing river in England, now the first fastest) all under one of the three arches. Clearly something had to give and it did. The force of the river undercut the Bridge Hotel which was adjacent to the river and the north side of the building collapsed into the Arun.
  • The Hospital of St James for female lepers stood on a site near Park Bottom between 1182 and1301. Records note that by 1435, the then-unused building was just occupied by a hermit.
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed in Arundel Castle from December 1 to 3, 1846. Victoria notes in her diary for December 2 that year: "After breakfast, Albert and I sallied forth by a back way and walked along a path below the castle, commanding an extensive view, which put us in mind of the slopes at Windsor. The garden is very pretty and full of evergreens, which made Albert extremely jealous for Osborne House."
  • The current black-hemmed robes with silk velvet worn by Arundel town councillors were made especially for Victoria's 1846 visit. As this took place in December, it explains why they are so thick and heavy, which makes them very hot to wear during the warmer months.
  • Arundel Cathedral opened in 1873 as a Catholic church. It was only raised to cathedral status in 1965 when the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was created. The original design by Joseph Hansom, designer of the Hansom carriage, included a huge spire built on separate foundations. The base support had already been completed before the engineers abandoned the project after realising the ground would not be able to support the massive weight of the spire. However, 11 years later, Hansom used a very similar design to his original spire plan in the build of St Walburge's Catholic Church, Preston. This huge 307ft spire is the third tallest in Britain.
  • Arundel parishioner Bernard Cuthbert Taylor, born in Arundel at 16 Bond Street, in 1889, perished while working as a steward on the Titanic during its maiden voyage.
  • The town stocks and whipping post that are referred to in late 18th-century documents were located in the old Court House and later along Mill Lane near to the current Norfolk Centre and next to one of the two animal pounds - the other being located in Queens Lane.
  • Grounds Coffee Shop, in Arundel High Street, was built toward the end of the 1700s on the site of Mincing Lane, which used to run from the High Street and emerged part way along Tarrant Street, now used as a footpath into Crown Yard car park.
  • Mill Lane, now a dead end, was the main route to Offham before Mill Road was built in 1894, by the Duke of Norfolk.
  • Town criers used to be protected by law as they sometimes brought bad news, such as tax increases. Anything said by the town crier was said in the name of the ruling monarch and harming a town crier was considered to be treason. Or as Angela, our own town crier would say, 'Please don't shoot the messenger'!
  • Swanbourne Lake – Crash of German WW2 Ju88 plane
- Unit - Stab II./KG 54
- Aircraft Type - German Ju88A-1
- Date/time – 6.30am on 13th August 1940
The Ju-88A-1 belonged to Stab II/KG 54 and was shot down by Hurricanes of 43 & 601 Sqns at 6.30am during a raid on Farnborough. The plane crashed into Swanbourne Lake in Mill Road, Arundel.

Oberleutnant Rose & Unteroffizier Scholz baled out and were captured unhurt. Feldwebel Bickel baled out but died and Hauptmann Strauch baled out and was discovered mortally wounded in a tree at Worthing and died of his wounds two days later.

The 2 airmen who died are buried in St.Andrew's Churchyard at Tangmere, near Arundel. One of the defused bombs recovered from the wreckage can be seen on display at Arundel castle.
  • The 1948 Arundel Park murder
On 10th August 1948 the body of Librarian Joan Woodhouse from London was discovered by a well known local man in a secluded area of Arundel park past the end of the lake known as the Boxcopse She had been raped and strangled.

Detective Chief Inspector Fred Narborough from Scotland Yard was assigned to the case. During investigation Police knocked on all doors in Arundel - Interviewed every man between 15 and 60.
After a number of weeks, the local man, who lived with his parents at Offham - near Swanbourne Lake - in a cottage called Foxes Oven, became the prime suspect of the murder

After months of investigating, the Office of Public Prosecution said that the only evidence against the local man was circumstantial and although he finally admitted to being in the Swanbourne Lake vicinity and had even spoken to the victim on the day of the murder – It was decided that the murder had been carried out by person or persons unknown. Following a private discussion with Inspector Narbourough who told the Aunts that he had no doubt that the suspect was guilty, the Aunts paid privately to employ a Mr. Jack’s, a private detective, to investigate - He spent months interviewing people both new and previous witnesses.

Scotland Yard was forced to reopened case after Mr. Jacks sent in his report and the Aunts applied for very rare private application for Smith’s arrest and prosecution - this was the first application in England since 1865 - Much to everyone’s surprise, especially the suspects, the application was granted on 30th August 1950. The suspect was arrested, remanded and case was later heard at Arundel Magistrates Court.

Four days into the trial it became clear that over the past two years the key witnesses had become confused and forgetful. it was decided that the evidence against the suspect was purely circumstantial and he merely had the opportunity to commit the crime with no hard evidence linking him to it. The case was discharged. Although never having been found guilty in a Court of Law, the suspect had also never formally been declared not guilty to the charges and the suspicion hung over him the rest of his life. He passed away at his Arundel home about three years ago still legally an innocent man.

In his memoirs, Inspector Narborough said “To this day I look back at anger to the tragedy at the Box Copse. Down the years I have waited for a certain local man to make a mistake. To take a drink too many, perhaps to talk too loudly....” Narborough was never in any doubt that the suspect was guilty but he had made some crucial errors in his investigations such as carrying out some of the earlier interview without first cautioning the suspect which meant that the evidence could not be used in court.

The case evidence was reviewed by Scotland Yard again in 1956 with the bizarre conclusion that Joan Woodhouse had committed suicide. This outcome totally ignored the detailed forensic report that found bruising and injuries that clearly showed the victim had been raped and strangled.
Small town justice stepped in when the local residents made their own decisions and by far the majority were convinced that the suspect was guilty and treated him and sadly, his family, as such the rest of his life.

In Narborough’s report written as far back as the original inquest he stated: In my opinion the murderer is Smith. He is fully aware that there is insufficient evidence to put him in the dock. And acting on the advice of his Solicitor, he would not permit any further questioning by the Police. Narborough also noted that in his opinion, Smith would never confess.

This case, which in its time hit the front page of newspapers worldwide and made the town infamous, remains unsolved.