Featured image of Bungay Castle

The History of Bungay Castle

LocationBungay, Suffolk, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byBungay Castle Trust
Rooms AvailableNo

Bungay Castle is situated in the small town of Bungay on the border of Norfolk and Suffolk, strategically sitting on the bend of the River of Waveney. The castle was awarded to Roger Bigod, a Norman Knight by King Henry I in 1103 for his support in the Conquest of England, along with estates in East Anglia and Framlingham.


Bungay Castle was inherited by Roger’s son Hugh in 1120, where he became a magnetic leader to the local barons. However, when Henry II acceded to the throne in 1154, he deprived Hugh of his lands both in Bungay and Framlingham due to the various reckless decisions made by him. The properties were momentarily returned to Hugh by 1163 when he decided to construct the stone keep at the site.

Bestowed to the Bigod family, Bungay Castle was held by the Bigod family for nearly two centuries. Later, it was reverted to the Crown and went into disuse. However, in 1312 King Edward II presented the castle to his brother, Thomas Plantagenet, and it was eventually passed on to the Howard family, Duke of Norfolk, in 1483. The family then continued to hold the castle, excluding the brief periods until the 20th century. The castle was recorded as being ruinous in 1382, and over a long period of time, the site was used for building materials. In 1987, the castle was given to the town by the Duke of Norfolk with an endowment towards its preservation. It is now owned and managed by the Castle Trust.


Bungay Castle
Bungay Castle”, by Ashley Dace, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Built as Norman motte-and-bailey castle, Bungay Castle was initially made of wood and earthworks. The site was then rebuilt in stone by Hugh Bigod during his reign. The castle was constructed with walls between 5–7 meters thick and standing more than 33 meters high. Hugh claimed that it was one of the most impregnable fortresses in the kingdom. The castle, however, remained unoccupied until 1269, when Roger Bigod II, the 5th Earl, inherited the title. He took the renovations further by adding a gatehouse and lofty curtain walls to encircle the original keep. After his death in 1297, Bungay Castle reverted to the Crown when it fell into disrepair, and by 1382 it was described as ‘old and ruinous.’

In 1483 when the castle became part of the Norfolk estate, it wasn’t cared for anymore and deteriorated further. In 1766, the ruined keep and curtain walling were utilized for road building materials. Later in 1934, Dr Leonard Cane became the Town Reeve of Bungay. He organized a programme of excavation and repair, rebuilding parts of the decayed walls and revealing many castle features hidden in the last centuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What remains of Burgh Castle today?

Having a varied history, what we see today of Bungay Castle is an interesting site for visitors. Even though it is in ruins with only two towers as gatekeep and stone structures, the tourists love to visit the site for the interesting background of the castle.

Who built Bungay Castle?

Bungay Castle was constructed on a motte and bailey structure by Roger Bigod in the 12th century. Later the castle was modified by his son Hugh Bigod and certain portions of the castle were added to the existing structure.

Who owns Bungay Castle?

Bungay Castle was previously owned by the Duke of Norfolk, who then presented it to the town in 1987. Bungay Castle is presently owned and administered by Bungay Castle Trust.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
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