FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER 2023, 6PM
December 1st 2023 will be a double celebration in the historic town of Arundel. Not only will the Christmas Tree lights be turned on, to launch the traditional Christmas Festival, but on the same occasion, the Mayor of Arundel will confer the Freedom of Arundel on Edward Fitzalan-Howard, the 18th Duke of Norfolk, the hereditary Earl Marshal of England, whose responsibilities include organising major ceremonial state occasions.
“So many people wished to witness and participate in this very special event that there was not a room in the town large enough to accommodate them. So we decided to hold it in the Town Centre, at the heart of the conservation area, where everyone who wished to could take part”, explains Cllr. Tony Hunt, Mayor of Arundel. “Arundel’s two primary schools and all three of its churches normally play an active part in the Christmas Tree lighting, so this meant that we could engage the community in the ceremony.”
Cllr. Tony Hunt explains, “The Freedom of Arundel is only conferred in rare and exceptional circumstances. Since 1945 this honour has only been conferred on 7 individuals and the Royal Sussex Regiment. The proposal to confer this honour on the Duke of Norfolk was a unanimous decision of the Council in July. It took account of the contribution that the Duke had made to national life through organising both the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth ll and the Coronation of King Charles lll. This has earned the Duke of Norfolk respect and gratitude across the country, and in doing so it has enhanced the reputation of Arundel. People in Arundel told me that they felt proud that “our Duke” had not only organised the Coronation but was centre stage throughout.”
Conferring the Freedom of Arundel also marks the contribution that the Duke has made to life in Arundel, and the exemplary effort which he has made to maintain sustainability and biodiversity on the Norfolk Estate, including his project to extend curlew from their northern stronghold on the Yorkshire Moors to the Peppering Estate in West Sussex.
There is precedent for the event planned for the 1st December. The Freedom of Arundel was conferred upon the 16th Duke of Norfolk, Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan Howard in 1953, following the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll.
“Compared to other great honours conferred on the Duke, the Freedom of the Arundel is but a small offering”, comments Cllr. Tony Hunt, “but it reflects the regard with which the Council holds the Duke of Norfolk and the importance which we place on the relationship between the Norfolk Estate and the wider community, a relationship which enhances the unique quality of our town.”
The event will begin at 6pm with a procession through the town, followed by the Christmas Tree lighting in the Town Square and Carol Service. ‘Father Christmas’ will also be visiting that evening to support the Town Council’s ‘Reverse Father Christmas’ Appeal in aid of local families in need in conjunction with Home-Start: Arun, Worthing and Adur.
📷 Christmas in Arundel – Charlie Waring
📷 His Grace the Duke of Norfolk – supplied by Arundel Castle