Orford Castle — Welcome , Historical Castles, United Kingdom

The amazing Orford Castle, lies next to the village of the same name in the county of Suffolk in England.
Orford Castle was actually a royal castle built by King Henry II of England, between the years 1165 and 1173, because he wanted to re-establish royal influence across the region. Before that time the area had been under control by the Bigod family who resided in nearby Framlingham Castle. Hugh Bigod had been one of a not very big group of dissenting barons during the Anarchy in the reign of King Stephen. Henry had initially confiscated Framlingham Castle from Hugh, but had returned it in the year 1165.
In the year 1174 Henry crushed the Bigods when they revolted again and ordered the permanent confiscation of Framlingham Castle. During the revolt the Orford Castle was heavily garrisoned with 20 knights. Henry died in 1189 and although the political importance of Orford Castle diminished, the port of Orford grew in importance. By the begining of the 13th century, royal authority over Suffolk firmly established, it handled even more trade than the more famous port of nearby Ipswich.
In the year 1216 Orford Castle was taken by the invading Prince Louis of France (later to become King Louis VIII of France).
John Fitz-Robert became the governor of the amazing aroyal castle under the young King Henry III of England, followed by Hubert de Burgh. Under King Edward I governorship of Orford Castle was given to the De Valoines family, and it passed by marriage to Robert de Ufford, the 1st Earl of Suffolk, who was granted it in perpetuity by Edward III in the year 1336. Not any more a royal castle, the incredible Orford was passed on through the Willoughby, Stanhope and Devereux families.
Meanwhile the economy of Orford went into decline. The estuary of the river Ore silted up, rendering the harbour useless and the Orford Castle, which had been a center of local government and the symbol of royal authority lost its main function.
Originally the only remaining keep would have been surrounded by a bailey protected by a curtain wall equipped with probably 4 flanking towers and a fortified gatehouse. By the late-18th century only the single north wall of the bailey survived and the roof and upper floors of the keep had badly decayed. Francis Seymour-Conway, the 2nd Marquess of Hertford, whose family had bought Orford Castle in 1754, proposed destroying the building in 1805. He was prevented from doing so by the government, on the grounds that the keep formed a valuable landmark for ships approaching from Holland, wishing to avoid the nearby sandbanks. By the 1840’s however all of the outer defenses had almost vanished, having been quarried for stone, and the foundations could only just be seen. At present nothing remains of these walls and towers but the dry moats around the castle can still be seen.
This a great keep of unusual design. Too bad it was closed when I came by. It is owned by English Heritage and normally can be visited for a fee.
Ok, me mentioned that the Orford Castle is located in Suffolk, in the UK, so let’s learn some history of the region:

The Anglo-Saxon settlement of Suffolk, and East Anglia generally, actually occurred on a very large scale, possibly following a period of depopulation by the previous inhabitants, the Romanized descendants of the Iceni. By the fifth century, they had established control of the entire region. The Anglo-Saxon inhabitants later became the so called “north folk” and the “south folk”, from which developed the names “Norfolk” and “Suffolk”. Suffolk and several adjacent areas became the kingdom of East Anglia, which later merged with Mercia and then Wessex.

Suffolk was originally divided into four separate Quarter Sessions divisions. In the year 1860, the number of divisions was reduced to two. The eastern division was administered from Ipswich and the western from Bury St Edmunds. Under the Local Government Act 1888, the two divisions were made the separate administrative counties of East Suffolk and West Suffolk; Ipswich even became a county borough. A few Essex parishes were also added to Suffolk: Ballingdon-with-Brundon and parts of Haverhill and Kedington.

On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, East Suffolk, West Suffolk, and Ipswich were merged to form the unified county of Suffolk. The county was divided into several local government districts: Babergh, Forest Heath, Ipswich, Mid Suffolk, St Edmundsbury, Suffolk Coastal, and Waveney. This act also transferred some land near Great Yarmouth to Norfolk. As introduced in Parliament, the Local Government Act would have transferred Newmarket and Haverhill to Cambridgeshire and Colchester from Essex; such changes were not included when the act was passed into law.

In the year 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government referred Ipswich Borough Council’s bid to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Committee. The Boundary Committee consulted local bodies and reported in favour of the proposal. It was not, however, approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Beginning in February of 2008, the Boundary Committee again reviewed local government in the county, with two possible options emerging. One was that of splitting Suffolk into two unitary authorities — Ipswich and Felixstowe and Rural Suffolk; and the other, that of creating a single county-wide controlling authority — the “One Suffolk” option. In February 2010, the then-Minister Rosie Winterton announced that no changes would be imposed on the structure of local government in the county as a result of the review, but that the government would be: “asking Suffolk councils and MPs to reach a consensus on what unitary solution they want through a countywide constitutional convention”. Following the May 2010 general election, all further moves towards any of the suggested unitary solutions ceased on the instructions of the incoming Coalition government.

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Originally published at https://historicalcastles.com on October 22, 2020.