Framlingham Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Framlingham Castle

Suffolk, England, United Kingdom

Framlingham Castle is an impressive 12th century fortified castle in Suffolk.

Lily Johnson

26 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk was built in the 12th century as a medieval fortress, and today provides an atmospheric walk around the spot where Mary I was first proclaimed Queen of England.

Framlingham Castle history

The exact date of the first Framlingham Castle’s construction remains unknown, however the earliest records of its existence date to the year 1148.

It was at this time owned by Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk, who was an important member of the court of the Plantagenet kings, and in 1173 took part in the rebellion against King Henry II. This failed however, and as a result Framlingham was slighted, or destroyed beyond military use.

When his son Roger Bigod returned to favour under Richard I, a new castle at Framlingham was constructed in 1213. With its 13 imposing mural towers and stone walls, the new Framlingham Castle served as a fortress and status symbol, and was the home of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 400 years.

Over the centuries, Framlingham Castle has enjoyed a diverse history, often finding itself at the centre of power struggles and as the home of prominent noble families such as the Mowbrays and the Howards.

In the 16th century, Mary I used Framlingham Castle as a refuge following Edward VI’s death, raising an army of supporters to bolster her claim to the English throne and pressure the Privy Council to accept her rule over Lady Jane Grey. In 1553 she was proclaimed Queen of England inside its walls.

After its decline as a noble residence, in the 17th to the 19th centuries a workhouse operated inside the castle, providing the nearby town’s paupers with work and lodgings.

Framlingham Castle today

Today, Framlingham Castle is under the remit of English Heritage and is open to the public. Visitors can walk around its imposing curtain wall which allows for wonderful views over the site, in particular its numerous chimneys – they are the oldest 12th century and Tudor chimneys in the country!

The workhouse may also be explored and is the last remaining structure inside the castle’s walls. Today it holds an exhibit detailing Framlingham’s fascinating history and that of its past occupants, including the infamous ‘Bloody Mary’.

A number of hands-on activities are also available at the exhibit, including the Hats Through the Ages dress-up section that allows visitors to don a range of historical headwear from a Norman helmet to a Tudor gentleman’s cap.

Getting to Framlingham Castle

Framlingham Castle is located in Framlingham in Suffolk, and can be reached by the taking the B1119 road from either the A1120 or the A12. Parking is available at the site, while the nearest train stations are Wickham Market, 6.5 miles away, and Saxmundham, 7 miles away. The Ipswich Buses service 118 also runs from Ipswich and stops at the White Horse, a 6-minute walk to the site.

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