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Postcode: IP13 9BP

Lat/Long:  52.2242N 1.3466E

Notes:  Castle is in Framlingham and is well sign-posted. There is a small dedicated (pay and display) car park in the immediate vicinity of the castle.


The extensive remains of the Inner Bailey of a major medieval fortress. The curtain walls stands to a significant height, as do the towers, and a wall walk enables the entire circuit to be accessed. Also open is eighteenth century poor house (now converted into a museum).

VISIT OFFICIAL SITE (Opens in new window)

Castle is owned and managed by English Heritage.


1. The name Framlingham derives from an old English term for "village of the followers of Framela".

2. Henry II seized Framlingham Castle following Hugh Bigod's participation in the rebellion led by Robert, Earl of Leicester. The King ordered the castle slighted and this work was conducted by Alnoth, a Royal Engineer, who partially filled in the moat and torn down some of the timber defences.

3. Thomas Howard, third Howard Duke of Norfolk, was a key courtier of Henry VIII. He arranged the marriages of his relatives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, to the King but both were executed. Thomas was lucky to survive himself; arrested and dispossessed by Henry VIII, he was scheduled to be executed the day after Henry VIII died. He was held in the Tower of London and eventually released by Queen Mary.

Mary Tudor. Following the death of her brother, Edward VI, Princess Mary went to Framlingham Castle where she raised her standard against an attempted coup by the Earl of Northumberland.

Framlingham Castle Layout. The approximate layout of the walls in the late twelfth century. Both the Outer Bailey and the Lower Court were walled although the only substantive remains now are earthworks.

England > Eastern England FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE

Following the Norman Invasion Framlingham Castle became the powerbase of the Bigod family whose influence grew to engulf East Anglia. Passing eventually to the Howard Duke of Norfolk,  Henry VIII confiscated the castle following his unsuccessful marriage to Catherine Howard. Granted to Princess Mary it was here she declared herself Queen in 1553.


Whilst there is some evidence of occupation of Framlingham in the Roman era, the area came to prominence under the Saxons where it emerged as a caput (centre of administration) for the surrounding Ore valley. Some sources suggest there was a Saxon stronghold here mooting that it was the site where St Edmund was besieged by Danish forces in the ninth century. There is little evidence to corroborate this however although the ditch surrounding the later castle may date from this period.

By the time of the Norman invasion Framlingham was a major Saxon settlement. The immediate allocation of the area is unknown but the Domesday book of 1086 records the area as owned by Hugh de Avranches, Earl of Chester with Roger Bigod, Sheriff of Norfolk as the sub-tenant. In 1101 the manor was formerly granted by Henry I to Roger Bigod and it seems likely the first moves to fortify the site occurred at this time in the form of an earth and timber castle.

Henry I died in 1135 and the succession was disputed between his daughter, Matilda, and his nephew, Stephen. The country descended into civil war (the Anarchy) and the Bigod family sought to exploit the situation. The then owner, Hugh Bigod, initially supported Stephen's claim to the throne but nevertheless mounted an attack on the Royal castle at Norwich. Attempts by the King to neutralise the Bigod threat - he raised him to Earl of Norfolk - failed and in 1141 he formally switched his allegiance to Matilda. This paid off for Hugh who was formally confirmed as Earl when Matilda's son, Henry II, ascended to the throne in 1154. It was around this time that the peace dividend brought about by the end of the war allowed Hugh to commence the first building at Framlingham in stone.

Henry II's reign was characterised by a re-establishing of Royal power and, despite Hugh's support, East Anglia was firmly in his sights. In 1157 he confiscated the Earl's property in Norfolk and Framlingham. The latter was returned in 1165 but by this time Henry was building his own major fortress in the vicinity at Orford. This treatment prompted Hugh to rebel in 1173 but he was defeated and Framlingham was confiscated and partially demolished.

King Richard restored Framlingham and the Earldom of Norfolk to the Bigod family in 1189. The new owner, Roger Bigod, commenced building the castle seen today with the high, imposing curtain walls a mark of his status. Roger also served King John but, once again, relations between the Bigods and the Crown deteriorated over heavy taxation. Roger joined the barons seeking to limit the King's power and was one of the leading signatories of Magna Carta in June 1215. This dovetailed into the first Barons War (1215-17) and the King deployed to East Anglia to break the power of the Bigods. Framlingham Castle was besieged but surrendered after two days. Roger had not been present but the siege prompted him to made his peace with the King.

Roger's immediate heirs continued to participate at the heart of Government with prominent positions under Henry III and Edward I. Major repairs were made to Framlingham at this time but this ultimately led to the then Earl, another Roger, becoming bankrupt and forfeiting Framlingham to the Crown. Remaining in Royal hands for six years, the castle was granted by Edward II to his half-brother, Thomas Brotherton, in 1312. It then passed through his daughter Margaret, later first Duchess of Norfolk, to the Mowbray family with Thomas Mowbray, first Duke of Norfolk, inheriting the castle and title in 1397. But in 1400, during exile to Venice for treason, he died whilst his elder son was executed for a second count of treason only five years later.

The Mowbrays’ descendants recovered the castle in 1413 and their title in 1425. In 1483 though the castle and title passed to their descendant John Howard who was created first Howard Duke of Norfolk. He made substantial repairs to Framlingham’s infrastructure but his tenure was short - he was killed in 1485 fighting for Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field and his estates confiscated. His son, Thomas Howard, ingratiated himself with the new Tudor regime and slowly recovered his title/lands including Framlingham. His career peaked with his victory at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The next Howard was another Thomas and a key member of the court of Henry VIII; he famously arranged the marriages of his relatives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, to the King. But he fell out of favour and was dispossessed and imprisoned by Henry VIII. Framlingham was now a Royal castle once more.

Edward VI granted Framlingham Castle to Princess Mary in 1552. He was a sickly child and, by the will of Henry VIII, Mary was next in-line of succession. But Edward's regime had opened a deep religious gulf between Protestants and Catholics and Mary was unpopular with the former due to her traditional views. When Edward died on 6 July 1553, the Protestant John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland attempted to alter the succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey. Mary, warned of the plot, re-located to Framlingham Castle where she raised her standard and marched on London. Northumberland's coup had failed and the elderly Duke of Norfolk was released from his incarceration in the Tower of London and his lands restored.

In 1572 Framlingham Castle was once more taken into Crown ownership when the fourth Duke, Thomas Howard, rebelled against Elizabeth I. The castle was utilised as a prison for Catholics but once again was restored to the family in 1603. The Howard era came to an end in 1635 when it was sold to Sir Robert Hitcham. He had little time to enjoy his purchase - he died in 1636 - but he left a lasting legacy; his will instructed a poorhouse be established within the castle. The castle continued in his function until 1839. Briefly seeing military activity during the Napoleonic war and World War II, the castle passed to the Ministry of Works in 1913.

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