‘There are always lots of things happening, including children’s workshops and Lego… it is at the heart of the community.’ Arundel Museum is always a hive of activity, more so than ever, as visitors enjoy the new exhibition, ‘Rebuilding Arundel Castle.’ The new exhibition has proven to be fascinating in understanding the architectural origin of the castle that contributes to Arundel’s impressive skyline. When visiting the exhibition, I was interested to find out more about the Museum, so met up with Heather Gayler, the museums Manager, to find out more.

In 1964, Arundel Museum could be found underneath the town hall, in the historic jailhouse (which all things considered, was rather fitting for a museum!) However, in 1975, the museum was moved to the high street, before finding its permanent and well-loved home on Mill Road, in a freshly constructed building. Arundel Museum has been a labour of love for so many local residents, with the late Pauline Carder (MBE) being the driving force of the creation and legacy of the museum. However, Rosemary Hagedorn also plays a pivotal role in the running of the museum, who assembled the funds in order to apply for a heritage lottery fund grant, allowing for the construction of the new museum we are accustomed to today. Furthermore, she also writes the outstanding information boards for all museum exhibits, with the most recent, being no exception…

The new exhibition, ‘Rebuilding Arundel Castle,’ explains the structural and interior changes made to the castle. As well as the economic context, and details on key people involved in the project. The ‘Rebuilding of Arundel Castle’ was the 15th Duke of Norfolk’s major building project, which aimed to secure the castle for the next 1000 years. It lasted between the late 1870's-1900's and aimed to restore and enhance the medieval exterior and create an up-to-date country house interior. Heather Gayler explained that the refurbishment was something Duke Henry was passionate about, because he wanted to continue his father’s refurbishment plans, who had passed away prematurely, before having the opportunity to complete what he had started. Furthermore, Heather emphasised how well-liked the famously scruffy philanthropist was, building local schools and Norwich Catholic Cathedral.   

The creation of the exhibition relied on the work of around 20 volunteers, including researchers, artists, Arundel Castle Archives, The West Sussex Record Office, and His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk. The museum first had the idea to create this exhibition 15 months ago, and has been in the making for just over a year. The exhibition runs until the 28th of January, however, there are lots of other interesting exhibits available all year round, such as listening to the firsthand accounts of local residents involvement in WW2.

Arundel Museum has proven to be a treasured part of the community, offering interactive ways to uncover the small towns secrets, as well as enriching children’s wider education. Furthermore, it allow's Arundel’s many tourists an opportunity to meet local volunteers and discover the different strings to Arundel’s bow.