After visiting Leiston Abbey ruins we travelled onto Framlingham Castle.
The castle is in the middle of the small town of Framlingham, with its only small car park. There is another car park nearby with a little on street parking just outside too. It’s £3 to park all day, so if you want to explore outside the castle too, it’s worth making use of the car park. We arrived not long after opening and grabbed one of the last 2 spaces, so it does fill up fast.
We booked in advance (it’s cheaper that way) the day before. If you’re an English Heritage member it’s free to visit. N refused to have the audio tour, but I’d definitely recommend it. There’s only a few information boards around the place otherwise, so it would have been nice to find out more.
The history of Framlingham Castle
There’s a rich history back to Domesday times from the point when it was a timber built fortress, before being built in stone, then after uprisings and being dismantled by Henry II, it was rebuilt again as it is today from 1189. You can find out more about the history with dukedoms, duchesses and royalty involvement including King John, Mary I and Elizabeth I. It ended up with the building of a workhouse, before being finally managed by English Heritage in 1984.
Features to watch out for are the different tudor chimneys on each tower, some of the oldest surviving 12th century and Tudor chimneys.
We started off with the exhibition in the former workhouse. This takes you through the history from the workhouse days, to Mary’s influence. There’s normal displays, but also some interactive activities like matching the food to whether you were rich or poor. There’s also a dressing up area which some younger children were enjoying while we were there.
It was quite busy in the small rooms of the exhibition, so we didn’t hang around in there long. We just wanted to get out and walk the castle walls.
Walking the castle walls
The walls have been preserved so we can walk them and explore. Over 10 metres high and 2 metres thick, it’s really good to be able to walk all the way around and see the view from all angles.
We could see the activity tents, while we were there they were explaining and showing medieval concrete.
Looking outside in one direction we could look over to the deer parks, and another to the ‘party’ lawn where they would have picnicked and relaxed. The remains of the bridge posts to the lawn were still there to see too.
We finished off with a drink and delicious sausage roll in the cafe. There was a fair variety of cakes and savoury foods, plus ice creams to choose from. Outside there are plenty of picnic tables to bring your own food too, although we definitely wanted to sit inside in the cool.
If you don’t do the audio tour, and there’s no activities happening on your visit, you might find Framlingham Castle is quite a short visit. We were finished in an hour (we are quite speedy as N doesn’t stop to read all the displays). It’s a nice morning or afternoon visit to a less commercial. but no less interesting, castle than some others are.
Have you ever been to Framlingham Castle?