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Castle Rising Castle, Norfolk

Castle Rising Castle by Barbara Ballard Castle Rising Castle detail by Barbara Ballard Castle Rising castleís square stone keep dates from c1140 and is a rare survival of its type. It is surrounded by 20 acres of earthworks, one of Englandís largest. The castle had two outer baileys, in one of which was a garden. Ruins of stone 13th century buildings (thought to be occupied by Queen Isabella) and a ruined church dating from 1100 are located on the site. A wooden building underneath the keep might have been a hall.

Castle Rising Castle ditch by Barbara Ballard A Norman lord, William DíAlbini II, built the castle after he married Henry Iís widow, Alice of Louvain. This brought him the title of Earl of Arundel. He fought on the side of Henry II during the 1173 uprising, which necessitated the earthworks being built so high. His grave (died 1176) is in the priory church at Wymondham.

Great Hall passage arcade by Richard Croft courtesy Geograph org In 1331 the castle became a royal residence and remained that until 1544. Queen Isabella, wife of Edward II (after she murdered her husband) lived here for 27 years. The castle served as a hunting lodge for her son, Edward III. When she was in residence a third floor was added to the keep.

The great chamber by Richard Croft courtesy Geograph org After Isabella died the castle became the property of Edward, and he invested much money repairing it and bought two cannons. After his death the castle lost its importance and, in 1544, was given by Henry VIII to the Howard family, who still own it. The castle began to seriously decay after this time and much of the stone was eventually used elsewhere.

Castle keep entrance by Bob Jones courtesy Geograph org The gatehouse dates from 1140. Parts of the staircase and the portcullis have survived as well as the 14th century bridge over the ditch. At one time a stone wall surmounted the bank with three towers placed on it. In 1553 one served as a brewhouse.

Main stairway of the castle by Bob Jones courtesy Geograph org The castle keep stone, which came from Lincolnshire, was decorated with arcading. The building had a great hall reached by a wide staircase. Carved capitals were added to impress visitors. The 12th century vestibule retains its original entrance arch and medieval tiles. In the 16th century an opening was made from the hall to the kitchens.

Wall passage in the keep by Richard Croft A lordís chamber complete with garderobes was located on the opposite side of the keep cross-wall. Near the private chamber is the castle chapel. Traces of blue and white paint remain on the walls. The kitchen had a circular hearth for cooking. The ground floors of the castle served as storage areas. A well is located in one.

Castle Rising Church by Barbara Ballard The village of Rising once had a bank and ditch around it. It became well known when diarist Samuel Pepys served as its MP. Sir Robert Walpole also became an MP for the borough. In the village is a Norman church, St Lawrence. It has been restored. A medieval market was held in the town. A leper hospital existed in the early 13th century.

Visitor Information

Castle Rising Castle
Castle Rising, 4 miles north-east of King's Lynn
Norfolk, Eastern Counties
Tel. 0 1553 631 330
Open: April-end Oct, daily, 10am-6pm; Nov-March, Wed-Sun, 10am-4pm
English Heritage management; audio tour (fee charged); parking

Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows: great hall passage arcade, wall passage, great chamber by Richard Croft; castle keep entrance, main stairway by Bob Jones

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