Orford Castle, lies next to the village of the same name in the county of Suffolk in England.
Orford Castle was a royal castle built by King Henry II of England, between 1165 and 1173, because he wanted to re-establish royal influence across the region. Before that time the area had been under control by the Bigod family who resided in nearby Framlingham Castle. Hugh Bigod had been one of a group of dissenting barons during the Anarchy in the reign of King Stephen. Henry had initially confiscated Framlingham Castle from Hugh, but had returned it in 1165.
In 1174 Henry crushed the Bigods when they revolted again and ordered the permanent confiscation of Framlingham Castle. During the revolt Orford Castle was heavily garrisoned with 20 knights. Henry died in 1189 and although the political importance of Orford Castle diminished, the port of Orford grew in importance. By the start of the 13th century, royal authority over Suffolk firmly established, it handled even more trade than the more famous port of nearby Ipswich.
In 1216 Orford Castle was taken by the invading Prince Louis of France (later to become King Louis VIII of France).
John Fitz-Robert became the governor of the royal castle under the young King Henry III of England, followed by Hubert de Burgh. Under King Edward I governorship of Orford Castle was given to the De Valoines family, and it passed by marriage to Robert de Ufford, the 1st Earl of Suffolk, who was granted it in perpetuity by Edward III in 1336. No longer a royal castle, Orford was passed on through the Willoughby, Stanhope and Devereux families.
Meanwhile the economy of Orford went into decline. The estuary of the river Ore silted up, rendering the harbour useless and Orford Castle, which had been a center of local government and the symbol of royal authority lost its function.
Originally the remaining keep would have been surrounded by a bailey protected by a curtain wall equipped with probably 4 flanking towers and a fortified gatehouse. By the late-18th century only the north wall of the bailey survived and the roof and upper floors of the keep had badly decayed. Francis Seymour-Conway, the 2nd Marquess of Hertford, whose family had bought Orford Castle in 1754, proposed destroying the building in 1805. He was prevented from doing so by the government, on the grounds that the keep formed a valuable landmark for ships approaching from Holland, wishing to avoid the nearby sandbanks. By the 1840's however all of the outer defenses had almost vanished, having been quarried for stone, and the foundations could only just be seen. At present nothing remains of these walls and towers but the dry moats around the castle can still be seen.
This a great keep of unusual design. Too bad it was closed when I came by. It is owned by English Heritage and normally can be visited for a fee.