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Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel

Thomas Fitzalan - 5th Earl of Arundel, K.G. (1381-1415)

The only surviving son of the 4th Earl of Arundel Thomas inherited the title in 1397 when his father was executed. He was made a ward of King Richard the Second's half brother John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter that proved to be an unhappy affair. He escaped with his uncle, Thomas Arundel the deposed Archbishop of Canterbury into exile where he was joined with another exile, the King's cousin Henry Bollingbroke.

He returned to England in July 1399 and after the deposition of Richard 11 he served Henry 1V. After the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 he was appointed to defend the Marches and also became involved in suppressing the revolt in the North of England led by the Archbishop of York.

On 26 November 1405 he married Beatrice, the illegitimate daughter of King John 1 of Portugal, in London with the King in attendance. At about this time he was also installed as a Knight of the Garter.

In 1413 he retired to his estates and the following year after the death of Henry 1V he was restored to a place of influence by being appointed Lord Treasurer and constable of Dover Castle and Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Thomas was one of the initial commanders of Henry V's 1415 campaign, but at the Siege of Harfleur prior to the Battle of Agincourt, along with many others he was taken ill and although he returned to England he died on 13 October 1415.

John Fitzalan - 6th Earl of Arundel (1385-1421)

John inherited the title on death of his cousin Thomas as the next male heir however for Henry V's French campaign in France in 1415 he was indented as Sir John Arundel.

The claim to the title was disputed by the 5th Earl's three sisters and their families and it was not until 1433 that his son also John FitzAlan had the title confirmed by parliament.

The 6th Earl was a prominent soldier in the 100 Years War and his son followed in his father's footsteps by joining Henry VI in 1430 in France where he distinguished himself as a soldier serving under the King's uncle, John, Duke of Bedford. In June that year he took part in the Siege of Compiegne where Joan of Arc was captured.

Arundel Church with the Fitzalan Chapel

(The Parish Church of St. Nicholas and the Collegiate Chapel of the Blessed Trinity (Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel)

Both the 5th Earl and 6th Earl are interred in the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel Castle together with many other fine examples of tombs of other members of the family.

During the reign of Henry VIII and the abolition of Papal Authority when many chantries and their chapels were closed there was a different outcome at Arundel Church.

The 12 Earl of Arundel, a godson of Henry V111, voluntarily surrendered the chantry and College to the King who granted it back to the Earl for the payment of a yearly rent of 1000 marks.

Still one building today there are two sections of the church that are divided by a magnificent wrought-iron screen dividing the nave of the Parish Church of St. Nicholas from the Collegiate Chapel. Entry to Arundel Church is open to all from the old London Road but to visit the Fitzalan Chapel entry can only be gained via the Castle grounds.

Michael Wren
29th September 2015

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