• Orford Norman Chancel
  • Orford Lighthouse

History and Mystery Await you in Orford

Today The Suffolk Coast village of Orford is famous for it's nature conservation, hosting RSPB Sanctuary Halvergate Island; home to waders, seasbirds and avocets. But it didn't always have such a tranquil atmosphere. Built between 1165 and 1173 by Henry II to consolidate Royal power in the region, the well-preserved Orford Castle polygonal tower keep stands amongst the earth-covered works of the outer fortification.

Let your imaginations run wild as you explore the a maze of passages which lead to the chapel, kitchen and other chambers in the turrets. But watch out for the merman ghost who is occasionally sighted; apparently caught by fisherman in 1167 and held captive in the castle where he died.

With a somewhat regal past, Orford Castle was the property of the Kings of England for over 150 years until 1336 when King Edward III sold it to Robert of Ufford, Earl of Suffolk and it remained in private hands until Sir Arthur Churchman bought it in 1928 and presented it to the nation. Today it is a popular English Heritage owned building, enabling visitors to take a trip back in time and explore The Suffolk Coast's royal history.

Viewed from Orford Castle, you will see Orford Ness; a ten mile long shingle spit with marsh. A regular haunt for smugglers in the 1800s, it later became a Ministry of Defence Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, dealing in highly secret, experimental work. Significant advances were made in military hardware and experimental techniques, with pioneering research on parachutes, aerial photography, and bomb and machine gun sights.

Today, you can still spot the skeletal remains of buildings used during the two world wars and the Cold War scattered across the shingle.

After a day of exploring, be sure to stop at The Crown and Castle, where you can tuck in to a meal of locally caught fish and Suffolk-cured ham, washed down with a glass of wine or beer.

Picture credit: T Pick