Review of 2 castles – Orford and Framlingham

These are 2 very different castles (although both are English Heritage properties), built by enemies of each other.  Framlingham was built by a Lord and Orford by the king to defend his position, which he had to do very soon after finishing it!

We visited Orford first.  There is a small ‘pay and display’ car park here, although we couldn’t see where you would pay.  The castle is set atop a hill and is really very complete.  (Btw – Calv had a good laugh watching me struggle back up that slope after I took the main photo..)

The entrance is up a set of steps on the 1st floor. The castle is a very interesting shape with the subsidiary rooms set around the main rooms in 3 separate tower areas.  I’ve never seen anything like this before!  It is only the keep that is left, the curtain walls having been dismantled by the villagers, and used for their own building, hundreds of years ago.  However, it is so complete that it prompted Calv to say you could move in and live there after plastering a couple of walls!

The audio guide is an absolute must – you’ll miss out on so much interesting information if you don’t take it (it’s free!).  In the main room on the 1st floor (the 1st that you go into) you can see stone seating all the way around the room, which was used during meetings.  There are so many features that you can actually see, rather than seeing a mock-up representation of how it might have looked.  (These are, of course, really good but seeing the real thing is always much better!)

Look out for the interesting, and amusing, feature as you enter the Constable’s room, the cistern on the top floor for collecting rainwater and the massive well in the basement.  Also the lovely chapel which actually did have glass in the windows.

Allow a good hour to see the whole castle and to listen to the whole tour.

A couple of days after Orford we visited Framlingham and it’s castle.  I’ve talked about the town in my main post so will only tell you about the castle here.

This is a much bigger site with a much bigger car park (also pay and display, but only if you’re not visiting the castle).  Make sure you go to the ticket office to get your wrist bracelet, even if you’re a member.

This castle never actually had a keep, but few of the inner buildings remain.  What is left is the whole of the curtain wall, to the extent that it is believed that the castle could still be defended today if necessary.

There is a building still intact within the walls.  This is the old workhouse, built in the 17th/18th century.  Unfortunately it was in the final stages of renovation when we visited – it was due to re-open 10 days after our visit.  As a result there is a temporary staircase in place, together with a slide for the more adventurous to come back down from the walls on!

Again, make sure you get the audio tour; although there are plenty of information boards (10 in total I believe) the audio guide fills in the gaps.  You can walk the whole way around the wall walk, taking in the 13 towers (although 1 of these has pretty much disappeared the outer wall remains).

There are lovely views over Framlingham and also the park beyond, in particular the views of the Meare and the college are beautiful.

Once you have explored inside the walls take a walk around the outside.  This provides a different perspective.  The walk itself can be a bit challenging though as it is steep in places.  Also there is a lovely area by the overflow car park where you can picnic and play – there were many families meeting together the day we were there.

So, 2 very different castles but both well worth a visit.  In both cases there is more of interest in the immediate area, such as churches and historic houses, plus of course some nice pubs literally on their doorstep!

I hope you enjoy visiting as much as we did 🙂

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