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Orford Castle - 12th Century

Orford Castle - 12th Century

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Port Orford

Orford Castle retains a near perfect 'Keep' which was once the heart of an important royal castle. It was built in the 12th century by Henry II under the threat of invasion, as part of his plans to develop a new town at Orford and to improve the port by draining the surrounding marshes. It was a successful attempt on his part to re-establish royal power in East Anglia. Over time the estuary gradually silted up and the port declined but the castle remained an important symbol of royal authority. The castle was sufficiently important to be kept in reasonable repair throughout the 13th century, but by the beginning of the 14th century its military role had ceased to be great and in 1336 Edward III granted it in perpetuity to Robert of Ufford who, a year later became Earl of Suffolk.

Orford Castle - 12th Century

The walls of the uniquely shaped Keep are 10 feet deep, and conceal a maze of well-preserved rooms and passages. The splendid spiral staircase which rises sheer from the basement to the top of the Keep, gives access to magnificant views seaward over Orfordness and the River Alde. In the distance can be seen Havergate Island, a bird sanctuary famous for its avocets, and far out to sea the red and white banded automatic lighthouse. The Suffolk Heritage Coast contains a rich mix of estuary, beach, marsh, and heath, woodland and farmland which give the area a distinctive and very fine landscape."

(Photo and quoted text are from an English Heritage brochure and interpretive signage.)

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