Orford Castle: a visit

Have you visited Orford Castle? It’s this magnificent 12th century fortress built by Henry II to keep the Earl of Norfolk in check. Only the keep remains, but that is more or less fully intact and is well worth a visit. It’s a very rare design of castle, standing tall and magnificent, visible for miles around. It is believed that this design was specifically so it could be seen from Framlingham Castle as a warning to the Earl of Norfolk, the notorious Hugh Bigod.

The castle is made up of two central chambers like this one, with rooms and passages leading off to the living quarters. Interestingly, despite, or possibly because, this was designed primarily as a fortress and not a household, the castle actually feels very liveable. Put some modern plumbing in and I’d quite happily live here.

One of the simpler English Heritage properties, you can walk around the ruin while listening to their very good interactive tour, or simply enjoy the building’s ambience.

They’ve incorporated the Orford museum into the castle, which gives you some fascinating local history, including the legend of the Wild Man of Orford: a mysterious aquatic man they captured and imprisoned in the castle before he eventually escaped back into the sea.

When you eventually reach the top, you are treated to a splendid view of the local country and the sea. Although, this is probably the only time I’ve visited it and been able to see so much. This part of the country is not known for its clear skies. As always, it was nicely windy up on the tower.

Around the castle, as well as the very pretty village, with a good pub and bakery, there’s a good area to walk, have picnics, and generally enjoy the countryside. You can even head down to sea or enjoy the protected marshland.

Or you could just make friends with the local fauna.

All in all, it’s a great place to go for a visit if you are in the area. £8.60 is on the cheaper end of Heritage property prices. It rarely has additional events here, as it a smaller property, but if you really want a full day out, you could do worse than combine Orford with nearby Framlingham, which often has very exciting events on.

Official English Heritage site

A pretty good overview of the history of the castle on Wikipedia