Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

Framlingham Castle is a wonderful place to visit; the wall walk alone makes it worth investigating.

The Castle was one of the two homes of the troublesome Bigod family; along with Bungay Castle. Like Bungay Framlingham was founded by Roger Bigod soon after 1100 when he gained extensive lands in Suffolk.  The earthworks which surround the Castle most likely date from this period.  Roger's son, Hugh, built a great keep here (and at Bungay) and became slowly more powerful and often cocked a thumb at the King (who is referred to famously in a poem about the Bigod/Henry II fued as "the King of Cockneye").

Henry confiscated both Framlingham and Bungay and then sold them back to Hugh in order to finance the building of Orford Castle, thereby cutting off Hugh's root to the sea.

As an old man Hugh rebelled against Henry once more and this time he lost his properties for good.  Bungay was badly damaged, but Framlingham was completely dismantled.

Hugh's son, Roger, regained the Bigod properties in 1189 and immediately set about building Framlingham Castle in the form we see today, at the same time switching the Bigod's main seat from Bungay which slowly fell into decline and decay. The great curtain wall; probably the most impressive in England, was inspired partly by the now vanished curtain at Orford.  The Gatehouse at Framlingham is surprisingly small compared to the rest.  The Castle was taken by King John in 1215, but it would appear the garrison surrendered without a fight and no damage was caused to the Castle.  It was the only action Framlingham would ever see.

The Bigod's eventually lost their property once and for all in 1306 and Framlingham passed into the hands of the Mowbrays and then the Howard Dukes of Norfolk.  The Howards carried out a lot of work to make Framlingham a comfortable Tudor residence and the chimneys which ring the circuit of the walls were added in the Elizabethan period as ornaments - a very rare survival indeed.  The Fourth Howard Duke of Norfolk was executed in 1572 and Framlingham finally fell into disuse.

It was at Framlingham Castle that Mary Tudor met up with and captured John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland during the Lady Jane Grey debacle - leading to Dudley's execution, and eventually to Jane Grey's also.

In 1729 a poor house was built inside the walls which is the main survivor of the interior buildings.

The Castle is owned by English Heritage and is open throughout the year.  Combine a visit with a visit to Orford.

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