Visiting Suffolk for a long Weekend? then a Visit to Framlingham Castle, A magnificent 12th Century Fortress has to be on your list!
It really is a pretty unique castle with an extremely long history.
Here’s just a little piece of its history just to encourage you to visit
It was an early motte and bailey or ringwork Norman castle built around 1148, but this was destroyed by Henry II.
Its replacement, constructed by Roger Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk, was unusual for the time in having no central keep, but instead using a curtain wall with thirteen mural towers to defend the centre of the castle.
However the castle was successfully taken by King John in 1216 after a short siege. By the end of the 13th century, Framlingham had become a luxurious home, surrounded by extensive parkland used for hunting.
During the 15th and 16th centuries Framlingham was at the heart of the estates of the powerful Mowbray and Howard families. Two artificial meres were built around the castle, which was expanded in fashionable brick. With a large, wealthy household to maintain, the castle purchased supplies from across England and brought in luxury goods from international markets. Extensive pleasure gardens were built within the castle and older parts redesigned to allow visitors to enjoy the resulting views.
By the end of the 16th century, however, the castle fell into disrepair and after the final Howard owner; experienced difficult financial problems the surrounding estates were sold.
Framlingham Castle was given to Pembroke College (University of Cambridge) as a philanthropic gesture in 1636, after which the internal buildings were taken down to make way for the construction of a workhouse within the site.
Today, Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage and run as a tourist attraction.
Did you Know?
The castle mentioned in the Ed Sheeran song “Castle on the Hill” is Framlingham Castle, and in January 2017, Sheeran was invited to perform at the Castle.
FROM POWER TO POVERTY
Framlingham Castle has been passed through many hands and seen numerous architectural modifications during its long history.
It was later owned by the first woman to be named a Duchess in her own right and in the 16th century it became the scene of a national drama starring Mary Tudor.
It’s located on a bluff overlooking the River Ore, and today is made up of three distinct parts, the Inner Court, the Bailey and the Lower Court, surrounded by the remaining mere and farmland.
Lies to the south of the walled Inner Court and was originally topped by a wooden palisade and earthworks, of which only the latter survive. The Bailey would have entered from an eastern gate and contained a range of buildings, probably including a Sergeant’s Chamber, a Knights’ Chamber, the Great Stable, barns and a granary.
Today’s visitors to the castle enter the complex through the Bailey from the south, which also contains the modern car park for the castle
The Inner Court
Or the Castle, lies beyond the Bailey across the 15th-century bridge that replaced the earlier drawbridge on the site and is formed around a stone curtain wall of local flint and septaria stone, protected by thirteen square mural towers with open backs, with corners made of sandstone. A wall-walk runs around the top of the towers and wall.
The Gate Tower
Forms the entrance is a relatively simple design from the 12th century: the fashion for much grander gatehouse designs began shortly afterwards. The 2nd Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, however, had it remodelled in the 16th century, adding his coat of arms and additional ornamentation to the walls
The chapel is adjacent to the site of the first stone hall in the castle, built around 1160; in the 16th and 17th centuries the chapel tower was probably also used as a cannon emplacement.
On the far side of the Inner Court is the poorhouse, built on the site of the 12th-century Great Hall
The poorhouse forms three wings: the 17th century Red House to the south, the 18th-century middle wing, and the northern end which incorporates part of the original Great Hall; all of the building was subject to 19th-century renovation work.
Five carved, medieval stone heads are set into the poorhouse, taken from the older medieval castle buildings
Next to the poorhouse is the Postern Gate, which leads to the Prison Tower.
The Prison Tower
Is also called the Western Tower, is a significant defensive work, redesigned in the 16th century to feature much larger windows.
A number of carved brick chimneys dating from the Tudor period can be seen around the Inner Court, each with a unique design; all but three of these were purely ornamental.
Two of the functional Tudor chimneys make use of original mid-12th century flues; these two chimneys are circular in design and are the earliest such surviving structures in England
One of the castle meres can still be seen to the west of the castle, although in the 16th century there were two lakes, much larger than today, complete with a wharf
The view from the Great Hall in the Inner Court would originally have included the gardens of the Lower Court
The area around the castle today remains a designed and managed landscape; although the Great Park is now covered by fields, the view still gives a sense of how the castle and landscape was meant to appear to its late medieval owners
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