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Queens Head public house, Eye

Eye in the county of Suffolk

Pictures of Framlingham Castle

a Castle in the town of Framlingham, in the county of Suffolk

About Framlingham Castle

On reaching the curve of Market Hill a quaint, colourful sign proclaims to the visitor that you have arrived in the pretty market town of Framlingham. The town has several attractive colour-washed cottages, and centred close to the Market Square are interesting historic properties, some showing beautiful pargetting. A short distance from the village is the site of a famous windmill, said to be one of the oldest of it's kind in the country. However, charming as everything is here, the focus of attention is the historic castle which once belonged to the Earls of Norfolk.

Framlingham Castle is the 12th-century castle where Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen. It was built by Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. At this time it was the most modern type of defensive castle known. It's style of continuous curtain walls with strong projecting square towers (13) replaced the romantic keep and bailey style fortress.

The Bigod family had a rebellious nature and were often at odds with the crown. In 1213 King John stayed at the castle, three years later, he besieged and captured it, and it passed to the important Mowbray family. Later, it became the home of the Howard's, Dukes of Norfolk. It was the Howard family that added the attractive Tudor brickwork of the 15th-century, and it was shortly after this that Henry VIII seized it back to the crown and gave it to his sister, the Princess Mary. History records that whilst Queen, Mary restored the castle to the Howard's, only for it to be seized again by Elizabeth I when she took the throne. Elizabeth kept the castle and used it as a prison for Catholic priests. It was not to be restored to the Howard's until after her death in 1603 and thirty two years later, it was sold to Sir Robert Hitcham.

After Robert Hitcham died the demise of this once great castle began. Whilst falling into various degrees of disrepair it was used as a poor house and as a place of rest for victims of the plague. Other uses found for the building have been its use as a courthouse, meeting hall, a workhouse, drill-hall, and finally before passing into the hands of English Heritage, it was a fire-station!

English Heritage have restored much of what was left of the castle and although little remains of its once grand interior, visitors can enjoy the curtain walls and magnificent square towers. None-the-less, the castle remains are evocative of its chequered history, it rings with the cries of the poor priests imprisoned in the time of Elizabeth I and with the happy laughter of the young Princess Mary whilst she waited to become Queen. The castle, its architecture and colourful historic residents form an important piece of English history and thus, Framlington castle makes an interesting day out for all the family.

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