Featured image of Eye Castle

The History of Eye Castle

LocationEye, Suffolk, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes (from Easter to the end of October)
Owned bySir Edward Kerrison
Official WebsiteEye Castle
Rooms AvailableNo

A motte-bailey castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The castle was largely destroyed in 1265, and what’s left of it is known today as Eye Castle. The castle belonged to Sir Edward Kerrison, the owner of the estate.


Eye Castle was built during the reign of William I by William Malet, who died fighting Hereward the Wake in 1071. 

The castle belonged to the Malet family that controlled the surrounding Honour of the Eye, a collection of estates centring on the castle. The castle was passed onto William Malet’s son, who unfortunately died in the battle of Tinchebrai in 1106. Eye castle was later confiscated by King Henry I and functioned as a royal castle to him. The castle switched many hands until it was trusted with the Royal Steward, William Martel. Meanwhile, the civil war, the Anarchy had broken out, but the castle did not play a significant role. When King Henry came to power in 1154, he confiscated the castle of Eye. 

When William died in 1159, the castle’s control was legitimised by King Henry 1. The refurbishing of the castle took place later in the year 1173 when Hugh Bigod attacked it. Though the attack was not successful, there was a need for two square towers to be built on the northern side of the inner bailey, and other measures for the protection of the castle were also looked into. The castle was protected using the castle-guards system under which local lands were granted to a few landlords who offered their knights and soldiers for the duty in exchange.

At last, the castle was attacked and sacked during the Second Barons’ War in 1265 and was abandoned entirely. 


Ruins of the shell keep on the motte at Eye Castle.
Eye Castle keep”, by Richard Croft, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Until the 14th century, the castle remained in ruins but was maintained as a prison. Even though the castle remained in ruins, the local authorities continued to offer their dues to the owners of Eye castle for many years. No construction or renovation work occurred during this, but a windmill was built on the top of the motte in 1561-2. The medieval Suffolk parks and Eye castle were broken up and turned into fields.

In 1844 Sir Edward Kerrison, the castle owner, demolished the windmill and replaced it with a domestic house. In the 1830s, a workhouse and a school were built inside the castle. Today, the building is referred to as the Kerrison folly since it fell into ruins during the 1965s due to high winds. A few stone fragments here and there remain just as they are, and the site is listed as a scheduled monument and a Grade 1 building.

Eye Castle Keep: The Living Room
Eye Castle Keep: The Living Room”, by Michael Garlick, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Eye Castle
Eye Castle”, by Bob Jones, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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