See also Framlingham Church
Framlingham Castle was built in the late 12th-early 13th century by Roger Bigod II, the earl of Norfolk. His grandfather was given the manor of Framlingham by Henry I in 1101. Bigod chose a site where the original motte and bailey castle once stood—it was demolished during the civil war against Henry II as Roger Bigod’s (the first) son Hugh was on the side of Henry II’s eldest son against the king. Roger II rebuilt the castle around the remains. The castle was in the hands of the king for many years afterwards and came to the Mowbray family in 1397, then into the Howard family who repaired it. In 1553 it was home to Queen Mary during the political upheaval over the throne.
Framlingham’s curtain wall with 13 towers survives intact. The towers had a fighting gallery at the top. The only way to get to it was by ladder. The spiral staircase is an unusual anti-clockwise one. Some had Tudor chimneys but not necessarily fireplaces, so were for show.
A square prison tower provided protection for a staircase leading to a small doorway. Two of the towers had latrine shafts. One tower is solid. Another was converted to lodgings in Tudor times. A chapel no longer exists. The foundations of large kitchen fireplaces are all that remain. At one time there was a drawbridge and a portcullis at the entrance gateway. The Tudor outer arch still exists as well as the doors.
The castle came into the hands of the crown after the death of Henry VIII due to the disgrace of the owners, the Howard dukes. It was the site of Mary’s rally before she was crowned Queen. Queen Elizabeth I imprisoned Catholics at the castle. A poorhouse (note the roof tiles) was added to the site in the 1650s. It continued in operation until 1839 and was at first just for children. There were two floors and an attic. The kitchen of the poorhouse can still be seen. There are carved heads over the door and windows that date from medieval times.
An exhibition on 800 years of the castle life tells the story of its inhabitants. There are themed trails, an audio tour and a wall-walk. One walk goes around the outside of the castle walls and leads into the lower court. A mere and far reaching views are part of the attractions. The Lanman Trust Museum of Local History is at the castle.
Framlingham, Suffolk, on the B1116
Tel. 0 1728 724 189
Open: April-end Sep, daily, 10am-6pm; Oct, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-28 Dec, Jan-3rd week Feb, weekends, 10am-4pm; last 3 days Dec to 3rd week Feb, daily, 10am-4pm; 3rd week Feb-end March, weekends, 10am-4pm
English Heritage property; parking
Photos © by Barbara Ballard
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