From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Orford Castle

52° 5′ 39.16″ N, 1° 31′ 50.63″ E

  • History
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Orford Castle is located in Orford, Suffolk, 12 miles from Ipswich. It has views over Orford Ness which was owned by the Ministry of Defence. They conducted secret military tests during both world wars and the Cold War.

The castle was built between 1165 and 1173 by Henry II to assert the kings authority in the area. The keep is believed to be based on Byzantine architecture. The keep was surrounded by a curtain wall, gatehouse and towers. The marshes close by were drained, turning the village into a sheltered port.

The castle and its lands were bought by the Seymour-Conway family in 1754. By 1805 the castle was in almost derelict, Only the north wall of the bailey survived and the keep roof and upper floors badly decayed. The castle was almost pulled down, but the government saved the castle as it was a valuable landmark for shipping. The tower was conserved in 1831, a flat roof was installed and the upper floors replaced. The upper floors were used as an apartment for guests. The outer walls of the bailey vanished, having been quarried for the stone. Only the foundations remain.

Sir Arthur Churchman bought Orford Castle in 1928, giving the castle to the Orford Town Trust. During the Second World War, the castle was refortified with barbed wire, intending for use as an anti-aircraft emplacement. The castle was used as a radar emplacement instead, a concrete floor was installed in the south east tower to support the equipment.

The Ministry of Works took over the castle in 1962, it is now maintained by English Heritage. The castle is a Grade I listed scheduled monument.