Eye Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Eye Castle

Eye, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom

Eye Castle

Peta Stamper

24 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Bob Jones / CC

About Eye Castle

Eye Castle is one of the few remaining early Norman motte-and-bailey castles. Today, visitors can survey the surrounding area with a similar sense of dominance to its Norman inhabitants.

Eye Castle history

Eye Castle is a motte-and-bailey castle in Suffolk, built shortly after the Norman conquest in 1066. Eye is one of only two castles recorded in William the Conqueror’s Domesday book of 1086, the result of a market held within the castle from which the original owner, William Malet, drew income.

Throughout the 11th and 13th centuries, ownership of Eye Castle, a strategic defensive site and symbol of influence in the region, was passed through the Norman ruling class including Kings Stephen I and Henry II. It was during these power struggles the castle was partially abandoned after being sacked during the Second Barons’ War in 1265.

From the 14th century, Eye Castle served as a prison, and a wind-mill was built on top of the motte around 1561-2. In the 1830s, a Victorian workhouse and school were built inside the castle bailey but by 1844 the windmill was replaced with a flint house by then owner, Sir Edward Kerrison. Kerrison built the dwelling for his batman, a personal servant for military officers, who saved his life during the Battle of Waterloo. However, the building fell to ruin during the gales of 1965. As a result, Eye Castle is sometimes referred to as ‘Kerrison’s Folly’.

Eye Castle today

Today, Eye Castle consists of a mound and stone fragments from the original Norman castle. The recently restored site features a wooden viewing platform looking out over the picturesque town of Eye with its beautiful church, historic Guildhall and surrounding countryside.

The site has multiple information boards and there are picnic tables on the grounds so you can stop to enjoy your lunch before climbing the steps up the mound to the ‘batman’s folly’ and viewing platform. Eye Castle is open every day, with a list of nearby keyholders if you find the gates closed, and the site is also dog-friendly.

Getting to Eye Castle

Eye Castle is located off the A140 near Yaxley to the east. Free parking is available at the Cross Street car park only 300m from the castle. If using public transport, you can get the train from Ipswich to Diss, then catch the 110 bus to Eye Town Hall, a 300m walk away.