Mighty fortress Framlingham Castle was built in the 12th century by East Anglia magnates the Bigods, originally Normans, who through the Middle Ages ranked with England’s greatest nobles. In the 16th century Framlingham Castle was briefly owned by Mary Tudor who was in residence here when she learnt she had been proclaimed queen.
Framlingham Castle has examples of architecture from various periods including medieval, Tudor and 17th century poorhouse buildings. Castle tours include the breathtaking walls walk from which there are panoramic views of Framlingham Mere. A comprehensive exhibition also features within the former poorhouse detailing the castle’s history and the powerful East Anglia barons who owned it through the centuries.
Mighty powerhouse Framlingham Castle was built in the 12th century by the Bigod family and was home to the powerful Earls and Dukes of Norfolk for over 400 years. These were the richest and most powerful individuals in East Anglia. In the 14th century Framlingham Castle passed to the Brotherton family who were relations of the king, then to the Dukes of Norfolk the Mowbrays in 1397. In 1483 the castle came into the hands of the Howard family who spent considerable funds refurbishing Framlingham.
A famous point in the Castle’s history comes in the 16th century when Framlingham was owned for a short period by Mary I and was at the hub of national events. Mary Tudor was in residence here when she received the news that she had been proclaimed the first ruling Queen of England.
In 1635 Framlingham was bought by a rich philanthropist and lawyer – Sir Robert Hitcham who left instructions in his will for the Castle buildings to be demolished and replaced by a poorhouse. The poorhouse building, which survives today in the inner court, was built in 1729.
Spectacularly situated on a natural spur with adjacent mere, 12th century fortress Framlingham Castle features a fascinating mix of Norman and medieval castle remains, Tudor chimneys and an inner court with 17th/18th century poorhouse buildings. Prior to entering via the entrance gatehouse it’s well worth taking a tour of the magnificent castle exterior.
Gentle footpaths run around the castle taking in the defensive deep ditches. The stone curtain wall of Framlingham’s exterior dates from around 1190 and stands at around 10.5m high and 2.3m thick. Local flint and septaria were used to build the walls here and at nearby Orford Castle hence the similarity of the exterior of the two castles. The remains of the mighty Western Tower, also known as the prison tower, date from about 1190
Visitors enter through the mighty Gatehouse which is a mix original Norman and Tudor remodelling. Moving into the inner court you’ll see the Red House dating from 1660 and the first poorhouse building to be built here. Enter the English Heritage exhibition through the old poorhouse door noting five of the original stone heads from the medieval castle reset either side of the doorway.
The Wall Walk is unique to Framlingham Castle, offering the opportunity to view the great Tudor chimneys up close and admire spectacular views across to Framlingham Mere and village. You also get the best views of the ruined West Tower from above along the walls walk which is included in entrance. Extensive parking is available adjacent to the castle and beautiful Framlingham village with its choice of fine old inns, markets, craft and gift shops is also just a short stroll from the castle walls. Framlington Market is weekly on a Saturday.