The attractive, mellow-hued battlemented towers and walls of Framlingham Castle have had some notable owners. The Earl of Norfolk, Roger Bigod, built the castle somewhere between about 1189 and 1200 on the site of an earlier castle. The Bigods traditionally had tempestuous relationships with their kings – Hugh Bigod supported Henry II’s eldest son when he rebelled against his father in 1173, Roger Bigod II held Framlingham against King John in 1216, and Roger Bigod IV refused to go to Flanders to fight for Edward I in 1297. Framlingham Castle was also owned by the Mowbray family, one of whom was engaged to marry one of the unfortunate princes who ‘disappeared’ from the Tower of London, and the Howard family, members of which were Dukes of Norfolk in Henry VIII’s time. It was at Framlingham that ‘Bloody’ Mary learned that she had become Queen of England in 1553. Later, Elizabeth I used the castle as a prison for priests who refused to accept the new Church of England. Framlingham Castle has 13 towers, all connected by walls, and you can walk right round the castle. There are beautiful views over the mere. When the castle was no longer used as a ducal residence, it took on several different roles through the ensuing centuries, including as a poor house – the buildings for which survive in the courtyard – a parish meeting place, dance hall, courtroom, drill hall and a fire station.You can learn more about the castle’s colourful past from the on-site exhibition, entitled Framlingham Castle: From Powerhouse to Poorhouse.
Facilities – at a glance
Assist dogs allowed
- Parking onsite
- Parking nearby
- Facilities: Virtual tour with hearing loop available on ground floor in exhibition, hearing loop, handrails, audio tour (included in admission price), parking near entrance (telephone in advance)
- Accessible toilets
- Opening Times: Open Apr-Sep, see website for details; Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-23 Dec, 2 Jan-11 Feb and 17 Feb-29 Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4; 12-16 Feb, daily 10-4, 27-1 Jan, Wed-Mon 10-4. May close early for events, please call to check. Closed 24-26 Dec
Also in the area
About the area
Suffolk is Constable country, where the county’s crumbling, time-ravaged coastline spreads itself under wide skies to convey a wonderful sense of remoteness and solitude. Highly evocative and atmospheric, this is where rivers wind lazily to the sea and notorious 18th-century smugglers hid from the excise men. John Constable immortalised these expansive flatlands in his paintings in the 18th century, and his artwork raises the region’s profile to this day.
Walking is one of Suffolk’s most popular recreational activities. It may be flat but the county has much to discover on foot – not least the isolated Heritage Coast, which can be accessed via the Suffolk Coast Path. Southwold, with its distinctive, white-walled lighthouse standing sentinel above the town and its colourful beach huts and attractive pier features on many a promotional brochure. Much of Suffolk’s coastal heathland is protected as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and shelters several rare creatures including the adder, the heath butterfly and the nightjar. In addition to walking, there is a good choice of cycling routes but for something less demanding, visit some of Suffolk’s charming old towns, with streets of handsome, period buildings and picturesque, timber-framed houses.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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