Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk…

Oxburgh Hall is a fortified manor house in the parish of Oxborough in Norfolk, and was built on the orders of Sir Edmund Bedingfield in 1482. Sir Edmund had inherited the land that Oxburgh stands on from his grandmother, Margaret Tuddenham. He decided to move the family’s main seat or administrative centre from Bedingfield, near Eye in Suffolk, to Oxborough.

Constructed out of brick, Oxburgh Hall, was unusual for the time as brick was usually only usually used by the king. During the Wars of the Roses (1455 – 1487), Sir Edmund supported the Yorkist cause of Edward IV (1461 – 1470, 1471 – 1483), and was created Knight of the Bath in 1483 at the coronation of Richard III (1483 – 1485).

Following Richard III’s defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485,  Sir Edmund became loyal to the new king, Henry VII (1485 – 1509). For his loyalty, Sir Edmund was made Knight Banneret. The king, queen and the king’s mother would go on to visit Oxburgh.

Today, Oxburgh Hall is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

 

 

Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall Gatehouse
Oxburgh Hall Gatehouse
Oxburgh Hall Gatehouse
Oxburgh Hall Gatehouse
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The Tolhouse, Norfolk…

The Tolhouse in Great Yarmouth, whilst not a castle, is a fortified townhouse. Built in 1150, it was altered in 1250. The borough hired the building in the 14th Century and purchased outright in 1552.

The building has had several different uses, including as a prison (1261 – 1875), town hall (to 1882), police station, court house and toll office. The building was restored in 1883 when a rear wing of the building was demolished. The building was bombed during the Second World War (1939 – 1945).

The building was restored again between 1960 – 1961. The building is constructed of flint with ashlar dressing.

Today, the Tolhouse is a museum and is open to the public. Check opening times.

 

The Tolhouse
The Tolhouse

Caister Castle, Norfolk…

Caister Castle in the Norfolk village of West Caister was built between 1432 and 1446 on the orders of Sir John Fastolf. Sir John was a soldier during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and as a child had grown up in Caister where his family’s estate was located.

Believed to be one of the earliest buildings in England to be constructed out of brick, Castier Castle also reflects Sir John’s time spent on the continent in its design.

Sir John died in 1459, leaving the castle to his friend and lawyer, John Paston. There were also several other claims to the ownership of the castle. These claimants would eventually sell their claims to the castle to the Duke of Norfolk after unsuccessfully pressing their claims in court.

During the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), Caister Castle was besieged by the Duke of Norfolk in 1469. He lay seige to the castle in order to press his claim to it. The two month seige was ultimately successful, though the castle would later be restored to the control of the Paston family.

The Paston’s main residence was at Oxnead Hall in the Norfolk village of Oxnead. It was there that the family spent most of their time with Caister being abandoned in about 1600.

After this, the castle steadily declined. The Paston family continued to own the castle at Caister into the mid 17th Century.

The castle would then pass between the ownership of several different families.

Today, the great tower of the castle, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and large sections of the castle’s curtain wall remain, along with associated earthworks and a moat.

Check the Web for opening times.

 

Caister Castle Tower
Caister Castle Tower
Caister Castle Tower and Curtain Wall
Caister Castle Tower and Curtain Wall
Caister Castle Curtain Wall and Moat
Caister Castle Curtain Wall and Moat

Middleton Mount, Norfolk…

Middleton Mount, also known as Middleton Castle, is a motte and bailey castle located in the Norfolk village of Middleton, close to Kings Lynn.

The castle is thought to date from either the 11th or 12th centuries. It is thought that the castle may have been founded by William d’Ecouis who had accompanied William I (the Conqueror – 1066-1087) during the Norman invasion of England. Alternatively, it may have been constructed during the Anarchy.

It is thought likely that the site of the castle may have been occupied during the Anglo-Saxon period as a manorial centre.

As with many other castles of the period, Middleton Castle would have been constructed out of wood. Today, the earthwork remains of the castle include the large mound or motte, surrounded by a ditch. The remnants of the bailey of the castle lies, including part of its ditch, to the east of the motte.

The castle is open to the public and is visitable during reasonable daylight hours.

Middleton Motte
Middleton Motte
Middleton Motte Ditch
Middleton Motte Ditch

Great Yarmouth Castle and Town Wall, Norfolk…

Great Yarmouth Castle was constructed sometime during the medieval period, probably during the 12th Century. It was constructed out of stone and had four turrets and was likely a tower keep.

From the mid 16th Century, the castle was given to the town and was used as a gaol. During this period, it is thought it underwent some repairs on several occasions. By 1620 the castle was being dismantled. First the upper storey was removed, the stone was used in enclosing a gun platform, known as the Mount. In 1621, the rest of the castle was dismantled.

Great Yarmouth Castle is likely to have had a close association with the town’s wall. Though the castle is likely to have predated the construction of the town wall by over a century, the two would have no doubt been crucial had the town ever been attacked.

The town was granted permission in 1261 by Henry III to construct the town wall, though construction didn’t begin until 1284, during the reign of Edward I. It took until the end of the following century for the wall to be completed.

The town wall enclosed an area between the river rivers Bure and Yare. Constructed out of flint, brick, basal stone, and Caen stone from France, the wall enclosed an area of 538,232 square metres. A moat was also dug around the wall to offer an extra level of protection. The wall had 10 gates and 16 towers.

During the 16th Century, in the reign of Henry VIII, the Duke of Norfolk was instructed by the king to put the town’s defences into order. At this time the wall was improved, a rampart was constructed against the internal side of the wall and was continually improved during the mid-to-late 16th Century, ultimately being completed in 1587. Gun placements were also added at this time.

During the Civil War (1642-1651), the town was refortified. At this time, the moat was re-excavated. During the conflict, Yarmouth had declared for Parliament and the towers and gatehouses along the wall were used to house prisoners.

By the late 18th Century, the wall had ceased any defensive use. The moat had also been filled in.

Today, nothing of Great Yarmouth Castle can be evidenced, though large stone foundations and a floor were found during building work in the mid 1960s which are thought to be associated with the castle.

Large sections of Great Yarmouth Town Wall and 11 of its towers survive to this day and can be seen in the town.

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Great Yarmouth Town Wall
Great Yarmouth Town Wall

Norwich Castle, Norfolk…

Norwich Castle in the city of Norwich was built on the orders of William I (the conqueror). Some 98 Saxon houses are thought to have been demolished in 1067 to make way for the castle. Originally constructed in wood, the castle was surrounded by dry defensive ditches which were very deep.

The castle was held for the king by Earl Ralf of East Anglia. In 1075, Earl Ralph along with two other Earls plotted against the king.  The king learnt of the plot and Earl Ralph fled to Brittany. His wife remained at the castle and after a three month seige, was allowed to join her husband in Brittany and the the garrison were promised they wouldn’t be harmed.

In the Domesday Book of 1086, Norwich Castle is one of the 48 or 49 castles mentioned.

In 1094, work began on constructing the castle in stone on the orders of King William II (William Rufus). William died in 1100 and it then fell to his brother King Henry I to complete the castle. The castle was finally completed in 1121. The castle didn’t take the form of a normal castle, it was intended as a royal palace. No kings ever lived there permanently, Henry I is the only king known to have stayed at the castle at Christmas 1121.

The keep was constructed out of limestone from Caen in Normandy, France. The design of the castle as a palace was later copied in other castles such as nearby Castle Rising, in Norfolk. The castle originally had flint faced walls at ground level with limestone facing on the upper level.

In 1173-1174, Henry II’s sons and wife lead a revolt against his rule. Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk, one of the local nobility joined Henry’s sons and wife in the revolt. Along with hundreds of his own men and some Flemish soldiers, he captured Norwich Castle. The castle would later be restored to the crown when the conflict was ended when Henry’s children were reconciled to him.

The castle was used as the county gaol from the 14th Century and buildings were erected on the motte for this purpose. It was used for this purpose until the 1790s when a new prison was constructed around the keep, with the old buildings being demolished to make way for the new prison.

The buildings around the keep became quickly outdated and were pulled down between 1822 and 1827. Between 1834 and 1839, the keep was refaced, this refacing was said to be sympathetic to the original architecture of the castle. This refacing was done with Bath stone.

The castle ‘s life as the county gaol would come to an end in 1883, when it it was purchased by the City of Norwich and converted for use as a museum, which opened in 1894.

Today Norwich Castle still operates as a museum and is open to the public.

Norwich Castle Keep
Norwich Castle Keep
Architecture, Norwich Castle Keep
Architecture, Norwich Castle Keep
Architecture, Norwich Castle Keep
Architecture, Norwich Castle Keep

Weeting Castle, Norfolk…

Weeting Castle is a medieval manor house located in Weeting near Brandon in Norfolk. It was built around 1180 by Hugh de Plais, a tenant of William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, who had his regional caput (administrative centre) at nearby Castle Acre. The de Plais family would occupy Weeting Castle until the 14th Century when it passed to the Howards, Earls of Norfolk. The castle would later be abandoned.

Evidence of earlier occupation on the site has been found, most notably three ditches with finds of Saxo-Norman origin and burnt daub. It is thought a Saxon settlement occupied the site prior to the castle.

Weeting Castle’s design is similar to that of a hall in the outer bailey at Castle Acre Castle and is thought to have been heavily influenced by the design of the building.

The manor house was built of a flint rubble with stone dressing construction. The ruins of the building define a building rectangular in shape. It consisted of a hall, which would have been used to entertain important guests and for holding important events. At the other end of the hall, was a three-story chamber block. On the ground floor of the chamber block was a storage area with a vaulted ceiling, on the first floor was a suite of private chambers with an adjoining latrine block. This block contained three cubicles.

At the other end of the hall was a service block. This contained a buttery and pantry. A passage from the service block lead out onto a courtyard. A freestanding kitchen also fronted onto this courtyard and catered for the manor house’s needs. A wall separated this courtyard from the grounds of the manor house.

The ruins of the manor house sit on an island that is sub-rectangular in shape that is surrounded by a moat that was added in the 13th Century as a decorative feature.

Today, Weeting Castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public during reasonable daylight hours.

Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Ruins
Weeting Castle Moat
Weeting Castle Moat