Once a principal player in the Saxon world and a major trading centre during the Middle Ages, modern Ipswich barely registers as one of England's most important towns.
However, the country capital of Suffolk is still an important commercial and shopping centre. The town centre is compact and some parts contain examples of Tudor style buildings.
Ipswich provides a great base to explore the beautiful Suffolk and Essex countryside which boasts landscapes hardly changed since the artist John Constable painted them in the early 19th century.
14 Feb 2009 - Ipswich (Framlingham Castle), EnglandFramlingham 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
A view of the castle with the surrounding ditch showing the difficulty that would have been encountered in an attack on the castle.
6 Dec 2008 - Ipswich (Sutton Hoo), EnglandIn 1939 an undisturbed Anglo-Saxon burial ship and an amazing collection of treasures dating from the early 7th century was found. The Anglo-Saxons originated from the Nordic and Germanic tribes and is why I see this as continuation of what was seen in Oslo last week. However, where in Oslo an entire ship survived, at Sutton Hoo none of the original timber remains.
A stain in the sand had replaced the wood and preserved many details of the construction. Most of the iron planking rivets remained in their original places and it was possible to survey and see a ghost imprint of the ship.
Sutton Hoo is of a primary importance to early medieval historians because it sheds light on a period of English history which is on the margin between legend and historical documentation. Use of the site culminated at a time when the ruler (Raedwald) of East Anglia held senior power among the English people and is central to understanding of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of East Anglia and of the period.
Though the ship has rotted away, Sutton Hoo is one the most magnificent archaeological finds in England for its size and completeness, far-reaching connections, quality and beauty of its contents. Although ship burial commands the widest attention, there is also rich historical meaning in the finds from the whole area.
Sutton Hoo - Mound 2
This has now been rebuilt to it's supposed 7th century height. It is the highest mound in the site and the only one to be reconstructed. The burial was essentially a rectangular, plank lined chamber, 5m by 2m, sunk below the land surface with the body and grave goods laid out in it. A ship (probably a smaller version of the 'Sutton Hoo' ship) was then placed over it, aligned east and west, before a large earth mound was raised above.
Sutton Hoo - Burial mounds from viewing platform
There are in total 17 mounds, one containing a young man and a horse along with weapons, a cauldron and other items. This, mound 17, was destroyed by ploughing and is now marked by stones. All of the mounds have been ploughed over and reduced in height over the centuries which is why the mounds are so low today. The site was also used as a tank training area in World War II.
Sutton Hoo - Burial mounds including mound 2
Mound 2 can be seen to the left with shallower mounds to the right covered in longer, yellow grass. Called mound 14, this is almost destroyed and contained a woman. Mound 5 was a cremation burial area as was later used to bury victims of execution. Many of the excellent finds from the Sutton Hoo site can now be found in the British Museum, London.
Sutton Hoo - Recreation of burial chamber I
When used as a burial ship, these ships had a burial chamber added. This is a recreation of the one found in Sutton Hoo along with what was found within it. To see a surviving burial chamber, see my Oslo blog:
Travel Blogs from Oslo 2008.
Sutton Hoo - Recreation of burial chamber II
Objects made of wood and textile have survived only as scraps, or not at all. The only evidence of a body is chemical traces. As well as the objects that can be seen here, there may have been many more, long since rotten. The positions of the objects are a best guess because the roof of the burial chamber gradually would have given away as the rotten wood succumbed to the weight of the earth above it.
Sutton Hoo - Mound 17, The Equestrian Grave exhibition
There were two separate grave hollows for the man and the horse side by side under a single mound. These were undisturbed (looters had dug over the intervening baulk). The man was buried in an oak coffin with his sword at his right. The sword belt was wrapped around the blade, with a bronze buckle, two pyramidal strapmounts and a scabbard buckle. By his head was a leather pouch. Around the coffin were two spears, a shield, a bronze bowl and cauldron, a pot and an iron-bound bucket. Some animal ribs were probably a food offering. There was also an ornate bridle for the horse.
Sutton Hoo - Bronze bucket decoration
What is fascinating about the bucket which was found was not just the hunting scene on the outside but that it originated from the eastern Mediteranean during the 6th century and is inscribed with the Greek words, Good health, master count, for many happy years. Such objects were extremely rare in England at this time and may have been acquired by trade, or received as a diplomatic gift by a powerful leader - the occupant of the Sutton Hoo ship perhaps?
15 Sep 2007 - Ipswich, EnglandSuffolk has many spots of natural beauty and one place that falls into this category are the locations of Flatford and Dedham Vale. This area is better known as Constable Country, named after the famous artist who became renowned for his landscape paintings of the area. His landscapes depicting country lanes, springtime fields and creeks may be romantic visions of the past but the old charm still exists.
His most famous works include The Hay Wain of 1821, painted in Flatford, the exact location is remarkably recognisable today. The whole area affords relaxation in scenic countryside where once can wander in the fields, walk past cows and follow the slow running river - all ready made for a lazy summer day.
Nearby and a short walk away is Dedham, with country pubs and restaurants selling excellent food.
Flatford - Location for The Haywain
15 meters left of where this photograph was taken was where John Constable painted what is one of his most famous paintings. When compared to the actual painting what is recognisable is Willie Lotts house but what is different is the level of water and the amount of vegetation that obscures some of the view.
Flatford - House near 'The Hay Wain'
This picture is of a house near the location where The Hay Wain was painted. It has no significance other than it is beautiful looking house which is most certainly very old.