The unique polygonal towerkeep of Orford Castle stands beside the pretty town and former port which Henry II developed in the 1160s. His aim was to counterbalance the power of turbulent East Anglian barons like Hugh Bigod of Framlingham, and to guard the coast against foreign mercenaries called to their aid.
An 18-sided drum with three square turrets, and a forebuilding reinforcing its entrance, the keep was built to a highly innovative design. The progress of its construction between 1165 and 1173 is extensively recorded in royal documents. Both exterior and interior walls survive almost intact, allowing visitors to explore the basement with its vital well, and the lower and upper halls – the latter the principal room of the castle. Round these polygonal rooms is a maze of passages, leading to the chapel, kitchen and other chambers in the turrets. From the roof there are magnificent views seaward to Orford Ness.
Recent archaeological work has provided a clearer understanding of how the castle worked, and a new painting by Frank Gardiner shows how the keep and its vanished outer defences looked in their heyday. The upper hall now houses a display by the Orford Museum Trust, including local finds of Roman brooches, medieval seals and coins and some of the borough regalia. Graphic panels display maps, documents, pictures and photographs, illustrating Orford’s history down to the 20th century.
Please check out our other English Heritage
sites--Moulton Packhorse Bridge Saxtead Green Post MillFramlingham CastleFelixstowe MuseumBury St. Edmunds Abbey Landguard Fort Leiston Abbey
For more local information, please see:Orford Guide