Featured image of Orford Castle

The History of Orford Castle

LocationOrford, Suffolk, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byEnglish Heritage
Official WebsiteOrford Castle
Rooms AvailableNo

Built in the early 12th century, Orford Castle towers atop Castle Hill, dominating the charming little village of Orford by the coast of Suffolk. This East Anglian historical venue allows its visitors to pursue the power struggle between the crown and the Church in the most indulging of ways. Today owned by English Heritage, the castle was originally passed down from King Henry ll.

History of Orford Castle

Orford Castle was built on the lands of ‘The Honour of Eye’ by King Henry II, then Orford being a port city was founded by Robert Malet. Before housing the King himself, this land was a keepsake of good faith between him and Thomas Becket. The possession of this land resulted in him being promoted from Chancellor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The King’s good faith had a crystal clear motive, Archbishop of Canterbury would assist him in counterbalancing the power of turbulent East Anglian barons like Hugh Bigod of Framlingham and over the Church. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t pan out as hoped for and turned into a power struggle. The end came when the mighty Becket had to flee in 1164 and the King seized back his land.

Over the years of its prime, this innovative structure played its role as a courtroom, a radar station in World War II, and today as Orford museum housing remains from the Stone age, Bronze age, and Neolithic and Roman accents.


Orford Castle
Orford Castle”, by PAUL FARMER, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Orford Castle is a 90-foot high structure built of septaria, limestone, mudstone, and Coralline Crag. Its layout is unusual for its time and in the namesake of Norman designs as well. The modern-day Orford Castle is a unique polygonal tower governing the former port town. This 18-sided cylinder encompasses three square turrets and a building whose foundation was laid before it reinforcing its entrance. It’s a strong tower and this is well mirrored in its presence and appearance. This hence allows the visitors to glide through the magnificent stone fireplace, the daunting spiral staircase and, the upper hall, which is denoted as the principal room of the castle, all through to the very basement with its vital well. Considering the age of the built Orford Castle structure- both exterior and interior are in pristine shape and hence listed as Grade I.

Furthermore, the ancient paintwork adorned on the walls remains of an oven, stone altar, and the stone-made necessities give the visitors a better insight into King Henry II’s then life and court along with the substantial audio guide and display provided by the caretaking trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Orford Castle a Norman Castle?

Yes, Orford Castle is a Norman Castle. No matter how unorthodoxy its layout might be, the Norman design still holds a bold upper hand over the later designs.

Who owns Orford Castle?

Orford Castle today is owned by English Heritage. After King Henry II, the castle has been under royal ownership until the 14th century. Later on, it was passed as private property for centuries until 1872. In 1962 the Orford Town Trust passed the barton on after taking care of the castle since 1928.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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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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