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Historic England Research Records

Framlingham Castle

Hob Uid: 390442
Location :
Suffolk
East Suffolk
Framlingham
Grid Ref : TM2870563703
Summary : The now partly ruined Framlingham Castle was built around the end of the 12th century by Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. The first structure on the site was thought to have been a motte and bailey castle, built sometime after 1086 and in around the mid 12th century the first stone buildings were constructed. These, however, were dismantled in 1174-6. Roger Bigod's castle comprised a stone curtain with thirteen mural towers, and although there is no evidence for a keep it is possible that one was planned in the south-eastern corner. The castle is situated on a large earthen platform with a deep dry ditch separating it from a large kidney-shaped bailey and dry ditch on the south and east. Attached to the western side of the castle platform (and slightly post-dating it) is a roughly rectangular embanked enclosure, possibly the site of a garden. In 1275 and 1483-5 the castle underwent alterations, including the construction of new lodgings, and soon after 1513, the gatehouse was remodelled. In 1552, the castle passed to Mary Tudor, and it was here that she assembled an army of men to defend her right to the crown. The castle housed forty prisoners in 1600, many of whom had been captured under the anti-Catholic laws. In 1654 almshouses were built here but in 1666, plague struck and castle buildings were used as isolation wards. Thirty years later the poor house was forced to close, however in 1729 a new poor house was built at the castle. During the Napoleonic wars the castle was used as an ammunition store and following the departure of its residents in 1839, the poor house was converted to a parish hall. Other parts of the castle were converted for use as a court house and drill hall and the castle also housed a parish lock up and stocks at this time.During the Second World War prefabricated steel Nissen huts and a lorry park were located within the bailey, now Castle Meadow.The castle is currently (2010) under the guardianship of English Heritage.
More information : (TM 28656373) Framlingham Castle (NR) (in Ruins) (NAT)
Moat (NR) (1)

See Pamphlet. (2)

Framlington Castle and the Town Ditch are as described in the revised official guide enclosed. The southern part of the bailey ditch has been largely overlaid by town development, and a further section (TM 28706362) is now waterfilled and forms a pond. The N and E sections are dry and overgrown as is the external "Town Ditch" remains. (a) All other earthworks associated with the castle, and the enclosed areas of the Lower Court and bailey are under lawn. The "Town Ditch" (TM 28706384 to TM 28826366) is presumably the boundary remains of the original town area now partly defined by Fore St to the S and the river to the W. The low-lying area of The Mere which formed the western defence to the castle is still in flood and marsh condition. Published survey
(25") revised. (3)

This antiquity remains under the care of the Department of the Environment and is as described in report of 23 11 73. Survey transferred to MSD. (4)

16th century garden site known to RCHME Field Section. No adequate written or graphic record. (5)

Framlingham Castle Mere (TM 284 636) is situated immediately below the western ramparts of the Castle's Lower Court, and almost certainly dates from the same building period, probably towards the end of the 12th century (6a). There is no evidence for a natural lake, but the Mere, occupying the valley bottom, was probably always broad and shallow. The earliest reference to the Mere is in the 14th century (6b), and there is a 17th century reference to a fishery there (6c).

The Mere functioned in a number of ways, including visual and physical domination of the landscape, defence, intimidation and delight, and part of its function was almost certainly to manipulate the approach to the Castle. A garden existed in the Lower Court of the Castle by the 16th century (6a), and this emphasises the ornamental aspects of the Mere, over which it looked. It is likely that the Mere was sub-divided into plots of meadow around a smaller area of water by the 17th century, probably some time after 1580 when the park was dismantled. Water now occupies 25% of the area of the Medieval Mere.

The earthworks of Framlingham Mere were surveyed by the Royal Commission in October and November 1997 following a request from Suffolk Wildlife Trust. See archive report and plan at 1:1000 scale. (6)

Other sources (7-8)

Framlingham Castle (TM 287 637)
Land at Framlingham was formally granted to Roger Bigod by Henry I in 1100-01, and it is likely that Bigod quickly erected a fortified settlement there, probably a small motte and bailey castle (9a). Roger's son Hugh, made Earl of Norfolk in 1140, was instrumental in Henry II's accession to the throne in 1155, and it is thought that he had reconstructed some of the earlier castle buildings - noteably the hall and chapel - by the middle of the century (9b). In 1156-7 Henry seized Framlingham along with Bigod's other castles at Bungay and Walton, but he seems to have returned it by 1173. During the rebellion of the young Prince Henry against his father Henry II, Bigod sided with the Prince. As punishment for this Henry ordered Framlingham Castle to be dismantled between 1174-6. Upon Richard I's accession to the throne in 1189, Framlingham was restored to Hugh's son, Roger Bigod, who proceeded to build the present castle (9c).

Roger Bigod's castle comprised a stone curtain with thirteen mural towers, and although there is no evidence for a keep it is possible that one was planned in the south-eastern corner where the curtain wall projects slightly. The stone castle is situated on a large earthen platform with a deep dry ditch separating it from a large kidney-shaped bailey and dry ditch on the south and east. Attached to the western side of the castle platform (and slightly post-dating it) is a roughly rectangular embanked enclosure - the Lower Court, possibly the site of a garden; there are deep ditches to the north and south and it directly overlooks the mere to the west.

Geophysical survey was carried out in the Lower Court and the bailey. This demonstrated that there were stone walls around the perimeter of the Lower Court, and possibly a small rectilinear structure at its southern end. In the bailey the evidence was less straightforward but it clearly showed considerable modern disturbance of the southern part.

The earthworks of the castle were surveyed by English Heritage between January and February 2002 as part of the Conservation Plan process. See archive report and plan at 1:1000 scale. (9)

Please see these archives sources for further details. (10-12)

The landscape setting of Framlingham Castle was investigated through a combination of field reconnaissance, plan analysis and documentary research in order to inform the new display centre within the castle. Framlingham was the caput of an Anglo-Saxon estate, and it is likely that a Norman precursor to the present castle was deliberately located where the castle is today, on the site of the Saxon caput, in order to reinforce the new Norman lord's claim to the older territory. The origins of the town may also go as far back as the early Norman period. The church was probably built at the same time as the curtain wall of the present castle (circa 1200), as the latter would have cut off access to the existing castle chapel, possibly the original parish church. The properties along Church Street around the marketplace probably represent a planned development, but it is not clear if this was a single phase. The marketplace may once have been larger, with the block south of the church encroaching onto it in the medieval period. Field investigation showed that a park pale survives along much of the eastern side of Framlingham Great Park and along the southern side of Bradhaye. (13)

Source contains visitor details current to 2009/10, and notes the family connection to the Howard Family. (14)

It is possible that in around 1154, Hugh Bigod constructed the first stone buildings on the site. They constituted a chamber block and chapel which were later incorporated into the eastern curtain wall.

After the death of Roger Bigod III in 1270, his nephew, Roger Bigod IV inherited the castle. By 1275 he had commissioned various repairs to be carried out, as well as the construction of new lodgings. On his death, in 1306, Framlingham Castle passed to the Crown.

The castle underwent substantial refurbishment, including the construction of new lodgings, during the Tudor period. Some of these took place during 1483-5 when John Howard, first duke of Norfolk lived at the castle.

Soon after 1513, the castle gatehouse was remodelled, probably by Thomas Howard, second Duke of Norfolk.

In 1552, Framlingham Castle passed to Mary Tudor, having been granted most of the Howard estates of East Anglia in Henry VIII's will. It was here in 1553 that she assembled an army of local men to defend her right to the crown which was being challenged by the duke of Northumberland.

In 1600, while under the ownership of Elizabeth I, the prison chambers at Framlingham Castle's held 40 inmates, many of whom were Catholics imprisoned under the country's anti-Catholic laws.

In 1603, James I returned the castle to the Howard family but in 1635 it was sold to lawyer and politician, Sir Robert Hitcham. Hitcham died in 1636 and without heirs, stated in his will that Framlingham and its estates should be put in trust for the poor inhabitants of the towns of Framlingham, Debenham and Coggeshall. The almshouses were finally built in 1654 but in 1666, plague struck the area and buildings in the castle were used as isolation wards. Thirty years later the residents of the poor house were sent back into the town due to the mismanagement of poor house funds.

In 1729 a new poor house was built within the castle on the site of the medieval hall. It was managed more successfully than its predecessor and house poor families and children until 1839 when they moved to a larger Union workhouse nearby. The poor house is the only in tact building on the site.

During the Napoleonic wars the castle was used as an ammunition store and following the departure of its residents, the poor house was converted to a parish hall. The rest of the castle used for parish business including a court house and drill hall. The castle also housed a parish lock up and stocks at this time.

In 1913 the castle was given to the Ministry of Works by Pembroke College, Cambridge, and it passed to English Heritage in 1984.

During the Second World War, land within and around the Framlingham Castle precinct was put to use. Prefabricated steel Nissen huts and a lorry park were located within the bailey, now Castle Meadow, and many town buildings were occupied by military personnel.

This guidebook provides detailed historical information relating to the castle's history as well as many photographs, maps and illustrations of the castle. (15)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" Prov Ed 1925/1947-8
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Source Number : 2
Source : Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : English Heritage: Framlingham Castle Survey
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Source Number : 9A
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ridgard, J (ed) 1985 Medieval Framlingham: Select Documents 1270-1524 Suffolk Record Society Vol XXVII (Boydell Press)
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Source Number : 9B
Source : Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
Source details : Knocker, GM 1958 'Excavations at Framlingham Castle, 1954'
Page(s) : 65-86
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Vol(s) : 27
Source Number : 9C
Source : Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
Source details : Coad, JG 'Recent Excavations within Framlingham Castle'
Page(s) : 152-63
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Vol(s) : 32
Source Number : 10
Source : Framlingham Mere/ink survey
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Source Number : 11
Source : Framlingham Mere/pencil survey
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Source Number : 12
Source : Framlingham Mere
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Source Number : 13
Source : Framlingham Castle, Suffolk: The Landscape Context
Source details :
Page(s) : 63
Figs. : 15
Plates :
Vol(s) : 106-2007
Source Number : 14
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 143
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Source Number : 15
Source : Framlingham Castle
Source details :
Page(s) : 7, 23-40
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Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JRL 23-NOV-73
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 CDA 06-SEP-76
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Source Number : 5
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Inf C. Taylor
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : RCHME: Framlingham Mere Survey
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Source Number : 6b
Source : Suffolk Records Society [series]
Source details : Ridgard, J (ed), 1985 Medieval Framlingham: Select Documents 1270-1524 Suffolk Record Society (Boydell Press)
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Vol(s) : XXVII
Source Number : 6c
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Coppinger, WA, 1909 The Manors of Suffolk: The Hundreds of Hoxne, Lackford and Loes (Taylor, Garnet and Evans Co Ltd, Manchester)
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Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Suffolk Coastal, 18-DEC-1985
Page(s) : 9
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Vol(s) : 540
Source Number : 8
Source : Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built after 1086
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1086
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built around 1154
Monument End Date : 1154
Monument Start Date : 1154
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Elizabethan
Display Date : In use as prison 1600
Monument End Date : 1600
Monument Start Date : 1600
Monument Type : Prison
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Stuart
Display Date : Almshouse built 1654
Monument End Date : 1654
Monument Start Date : 1654
Monument Type : Almshouse
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Stuart
Display Date : Partly converted 1666
Monument End Date : 1666
Monument Start Date : 1666
Monument Type : Infectious Diseases Hospital
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Georgian
Display Date : Built 1729
Monument End Date : 1729
Monument Start Date : 1729
Monument Type : Almshouse
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Converted 1839
Monument End Date : 1839
Monument Start Date : 1839
Monument Type : Parish Hall, Court House, Drill Hall, Lock Up, Stocks
Evidence : Ruined Building, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : Second World War
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Nissen Hut
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Dismantled 1174-6
Monument End Date : 1176
Monument Start Date : 1174
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 1190-1215
Monument End Date : 1215
Monument Start Date : 1190
Monument Type : Castle, Lake, Curtain Wall, Angle Tower, Interval Tower
Evidence : Earthwork, Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Dating to after 1215
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1215
Monument Type : Enclosure
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Altered and extended 1275
Monument End Date : 1275
Monument Start Date : 1275
Monument Type : Castle, Apartment
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Altered and extended 1483-5
Monument End Date : 1485
Monument Start Date : 1483
Monument Type : Castle, Apartment
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Remodelled after 1513
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1513
Monument Type : Gatehouse
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : During Napoleonic wars
Monument End Date : 1815
Monument Start Date : 1799
Monument Type : Ammunition Dump
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Acquired 1552
Monument End Date : 1552
Monument Start Date : 1552
Monument Type : Royal Palace
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SF 3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Suffolk)
External Cross Reference Number : 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 286297
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 23
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : FF003076
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA081698
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 286298
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TM 26 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 390447
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1366134
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1969-01-01
End Date : 1970-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TM 26 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-11-23
End Date : 1973-11-23
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TM 26 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-09-06
End Date : 1976-09-06
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, POTTER'S GARAGE SITE
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD SEED MILL, FRAMLINGHAM
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: FRAMLINGHAM MERE SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-10-01
End Date : 1998-01-01
Associated Activities : Primary, EH: FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, 8-12 CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE BOWLS CLUB, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE: NEW ADMISSIONS BUILDING
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE MERE
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHHAM CASTLE: LANDSCAPE CONTEXT
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2007-06-01
End Date : 2007-12-01
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SEWER REPLACEMENT, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE: POORHOUSE
Activity type : DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CASTLE BOWLS CLUB, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT FRAMLINGHAM CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND REAR OF 24 DOUBLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MOAT HOUSE, CASTLE STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31