Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle

History of Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle is an impressive 12th-century fortress located in the picturesque market town of Framlingham in Suffolk, England. This magnificent castle has a rich history spanning over 800 years and has played a significant role in shaping the course of English history. Its striking appearance, with 13 towering walls and a large mere, makes it a popular tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world.

Construction and Early History

The castle's construction, initiated by Roger Bigod following the Norman Conquest, reflects the power and influence of the Bigod family. Historical records indicate the castle's existence as early as 1148. The castle's architectural design, featuring a formidable curtain wall with 13 towers, was intended to display the Bigod family's dominance and ensure robust defense against adversaries. Although it underwent destruction after Hugh Bigod's rebellion against Henry II, it was subsequently rebuilt. The castle's strategic importance is underscored by its involvement in numerous historical conflicts, including the First Barons' War in 1216 when it was besieged by King John's forces.

Tudor Era and Mary Tudor

During the Tudor era, Framlingham Castle played a pivotal role in English royal history. In 1553, following King Edward VI's death, Mary Tudor sought refuge at the castle to consolidate support for her claim to the throne, challenging Lady Jane Grey's brief succession. Mary's strategic use of Framlingham as a rallying point was successful, leading to her proclamation as the first queen regnant of England from within its walls. This episode marks one of the castle's most significant historical moments, illustrating its role not just as a military fortification but also as a center of political power. Today, the castle serves as a tangible link to this dramatic period, allowing visitors to explore the very rooms that shaped a crucial chapter in England's monarchical history.


Later History and Restoration

In the 17th century, Framlingham Castle was acquired by Sir Robert Hitcham, who upon his death in 1636, bequeathed it to Pembroke College, Cambridge. The castle remained under the college's stewardship for several centuries, during which it served various community functions, including a workhouse, a parish hall, and a county court.Significant restoration efforts were undertaken in the late 19th century to preserve the castle for public enjoyment. In 1913, the castle was placed under the guardianship of the Commissioner of Works, marking the beginning of its transition to public ownership. It has been managed by English Heritage since 1984, which has continued to maintain and restore the castle. Under their care, Framlingham Castle has seen improvements to its structures and visitor facilities, including the repair of the mere and the installation of new interpretive displays that enhance visitor understanding of the castle's historical significance.Today, Framlingham Castle is a cherished historical site open to the public, attracting thousands of visitors each year who come to explore its rich history and architectural beauty.

Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle

Nearby Accommodations

Framlingham Castle is located in the heart of Suffolk, a county known for its picturesque countryside, charming villages, and historic sites. Visitors to the castle can easily combine their visit with a trip to other nearby attractions, such as the historic town of Woodbridge, the beautiful coastline of Aldeburgh, or the world-famous archaeological site of Sutton Hoo. For visitors who want to stay overnight in the area, there are a variety of accommodations available, ranging from cosy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels. Many of these accommodations are located within easy reach of the castle and offer special packages and discounts for castle visitors.


Here are some of the top choices if you want to stay near the castle:

  • The Crown Hotel — Located in the heart of Framlingham, just a 5-minute walk from the castle, this historic coaching inn offers comfortable rooms and an on-site restaurant.

  • The White Horse Inn — Located 4 miles from Framlingham Castle in the village of Badingham, this traditional pub offerscosyy rooms and a menu of classic British dishes.

  • The Farmhouse — Set on a working farm 3 miles from the castle, this self-catering cottage provides a peaceful rural retreat with modern amenities.

Framlingham Market
Framlingham Castle

Events & Celebrations

Framlingham Castle hosts a variety of events and celebrations throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to experience the castle's rich history and heritage in unique and engaging ways. Here are some of the notable events and celebrations:


  • Easter Adventure Quest — This takes place during the Easter holiday, featuring fun activities and challenges for families, located within the castle grounds.

  • Jousting Tournaments — Held on selected dates during the summer months, showcasing thrilling jousting demonstrations and medieval-themed activities, taking place in the castle's outer bailey.

  • Haunted Castle — Occurs during the Halloween season, offering spooky tours and ghost stories, located throughout the castle's interior and grounds.

  • Christmas at the Castle — Celebrate the festive season with decorations, caroling, and Christmas-themed activities, held within the castle's walls in December

  • Outdoor Theater Performances —  Staged on various dates throughout the summer, featuring productions of classic plays and stories, performed in the castle's picturesque inner bailey

  • Historical Reenactments — Bring the castle's history to life with reenactments of significant events and battles, performed by costumed interpreters on special occasions throughout the year.

Please note that dates and availability of events may vary from year to year, so it's always a good idea to check the English Heritage website or contact the castle directly for the most up-to-date information on upcoming events and celebrations.

Dining Options near the Castle

  • Castle Café — Located within the castle grounds, offering a selection of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, cakes, and light snacks.

  • The Castle Inn — Popular among visitors, and known for its hearty pub grub and friendly atmosphere, is located just a short walk from the castle.

  • The Station Hotel —  Offers a menu of classic British dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, situated near the castle.

  • The Table —  Stylish restaurant and bar serving contemporary British cuisine, perfect for a more upscale dining experience.

  • The Lemon Tree —  Offers a diverse menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes, a great choice for those seeking international flavours.

  • Picnicking in the Castle Grounds — Scenic spots within the castle grounds where visitors can enjoy a self-brought picnic while taking in the views of the castle and surrounding countryside.

Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle

Planning Your Visit To Framlingham Castle


Ticketing Options — If you're planning to visit Framlingham Castle, it's advised to book your tickets in advance through the English Heritage website. This will help you avoid queues at the ticket office and ensure a smooth entry into the castle. You can choose from a variety of ticket options, including standard admission, family tickets, and annual passes. English Heritage members can enjoy free entry to the castle as part of their membership benefits.


Getting to the Castle — Framlingham Castle is located in the town of Framlingham, approximately 14 miles northeast of Ipswich in Suffolk. If you're driving, the castle is easily accessible from the A12 and B1116 roads. There is a dedicated car park on-site, although it can get busy during peak times. Alternatively, you can reach the castle by public transport. The nearest train station is Wickham Market, about 6 miles away, from where you can take a taxi or bus to Framlingham. There are also regular bus services from Ipswich and other nearby towns.


Best Time to Visit — The best time to visit Framlingham Castle depends on your preferences and schedule. The castle is open year-round, but the opening hours vary depending on the season. During the summer months (April to October), the castle is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, while in winter (November to March), it closes at 4 pm. If you want to avoid crowds, it's best to visit on weekdays or during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. However, keep in mind that some of the castle's special events and activities may only take place during peak times, so it's worth checking the calendar in advance.


Guided Tours  — Guided tours of Framlingham Castle are available throughout the year and provide visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about the castle's history and architecture from experts. Tours typically last about an hour and cover the castle's main features, including the curtain wall, great hall, and mere.


Learning and Education — Framlingham Castle offers a variety of educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. The castle's visitor centre features a range of interactive exhibits and displays that explore the castle's history, architecture, and significance. These exhibits are designed to engage visitors and help them understand the castle's place in English history.

The castle also offers educational programs for school groups, including guided tours, workshops, and hands-on activities. These programs are designed to support the national curriculum and provide students with a unique and engaging learning experience.


Accessibility — Framlingham Castle is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive experience for all visitors. The castle has made significant improvements to its facilities and services in recent years to ensure that everyone can enjoy their visit The castle's visitor centre, gift shop, and café are all fully accessible, with ramps, lifts, and accessible toilets available. The castle's grounds are also largely accessible, with level paths and benches provided for visitors who need to rest For visitors with mobility impairments, the castle offers a range of services, including wheelchair loans, accessible parking, and a virtual tour of the castle's upper levels. The castle also welcomes assistance dogs and provides water bowls and other facilities for them.

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