14 Feb 2009 - Ipswich (Framlingham Castle), England

Framlingham Castle is in the market town of Framlingham, 17 miles from Ipswich. It is unusual, especially for a castle of the time, because it had no keep or central stronghold, but merely a strong curtain wall defended by projecting towers which enclosed the courtyard and domestic buildings.

Framlingham is a magnificent example of a late 12th century castle. Built by Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, one of the most influential people at the court of the Plantagenet kings, the castle, together with Framlingham Mere, was designed both as a stronghold and a proclamation of power and status.

The castle fulfilled a number of roles. It was at the centre of the struggle between the Bigod barons and the Crown; centre to the tragic stories of family members Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both married to and beheaded by Henry VIII; and Mary Tudor mustered her supporters here in 1553, before being crowned Queen.

Today the imposing stone walls and crenellated towers with their ornate Tudor chimneys dominate, while the grassy earthworks around the castle are subdued reminders of its outer defences. To the west, the Mere provides a stunning setting.
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Framlingham Castle - Main entrance

Framlingham Castle - Main entrance

This Castle is said to have been founded by Raedwald, one of the most powerful kings of the East Angles, between A.D. 599 and 624 thought to be buried in Sutton Hoo Travel Blogs fromSutton Hoo.

Apart from a fifty period under Danish rule it stayed Saxons until William the Conqueror and his son Rufus took the Castle after the Norman invasion of 1066; but the third son of William, Henry I, granted it to Roger Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk.
Framlingham Castle - Courtyard and Poor House

Framlingham Castle - Courtyard and Poor House

The castle consisted of towers with a single wall surrounding the inner courtyard and buildings, non of which now survive.

In the Middle Ages, the poor were often fed by church or monastic communities. In the 17th century the buildings within the castle were pulled down and replaced with a poor house, built to feed and house the poor who would otherwise have starved.
Framlingham Castle - Walls from inside the castle

Framlingham Castle - Walls from inside the castle

There were only two very well defended entrances into the castle and if these could not be penetrated attackers would have to scale the 13 meter high walls. The towers had gang ways across them which could be quickly withdrawn if an attacker made it onto the walls thus trapping them between two towers and without an exit other than back they way they came!
Framlingham Castle - Atop the wall and tower

Framlingham Castle - Atop the wall and tower

In the 15th and 16th century the castle became more of a home than place of defence. It was made more comfortable and was redecorated. Elaborate brick chimneys, part of which can be seen in this photo, were added though many were just for decoration and did not function.
Framlingham Castle - Wall, towers and courtyard

Framlingham Castle - Wall, towers and courtyard

The king of England were threatened by the power and wealth of the earls and dukes on Norfolk. With it's near coastal position, the network of rivers and ports meant that East Anglia became rich through trade. Roger Bigod who built the castle was one of the barons that forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215 which was an attempt to curb the king's interference.
Framlingham Castle - Exterior defensive ditches

Framlingham Castle - Exterior defensive ditches

The steep sided ditch outside, even though not filled with water, prevented attackers even getting close to the castle. The stone was, 2.5 meters thick and 13 meters high, was protected by 13 strong towers. The towers jutted out allowing archers to fire along the face of the wall and across the ditch.
Framlingham Castle - The cemetary under the road

Framlingham Castle - The cemetary under the road

Framlingham was a Saxon name: 'the village of the followers of Framela'. A cemetary was found under road leading to the castle but it is thought that this must pre-date the stone castle and be Saxon.

Once the Normans arrived, the town expanded and became a significant place. It was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086.
Framlingham Castle - Footbridge remains

Framlingham Castle - Footbridge remains

These supports are the remains of a bridge leading from the castle to a park area to the east. This was an area of relaxation and akin to a castle gardens.
Framlingham Castle - The courtyard and Poor House

Framlingham Castle - The courtyard and Poor House

One of the last people to stay in the castle was Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII. Mary came to Framlingham to gather her supporters before being crowned queen of England in 1553. In her time there would have been many buildings within the confines of the wall rather than the open space that can be seen now.
Framlingham Castle - The mere

Framlingham Castle - The mere

The mere is a natural lake fed by the river Ore and gives the castle a beautiful setting. In the Middle Ages it was 5 times as big as it is now. From outside the castle the water acts as a mirror and for the medieval visitor would have provided an awsome sight.
Framlingham Castle - Exterior view of the castle and ditch

Framlingham Castle - Exterior view of the castle and ditch

A view of the castle with the surrounding ditch showing the difficulty that would have been encountered in an attack on the castle.

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