Castles and churches, not a bad afternoon!

Saturday 14 May 2016 – Orford Ness, Suffolk.

In the previous post, I talked about how I had spent the morning and the early part of the afternoon visiting the wonderful Orford Ness, a National Trust wilderness area. A beautiful spit of land tagged on to the Suffolk coast, and separated from the town of Orford by the River Alde.

When I arrived back on the mainland from the ‘Ness’ it was only mid-afternoon and though it was cold there was still plenty of day time left, and plenty of things to see in the village of Orford itself.

Like all coastal towns Orford has a long history of fishing and shell fishing, there is still some industry here but I suspect it is now subservient to the tourism industry. Having a few old fishing boats lying around is never going to hurt from a photography tourist’s perspective either!

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The older part of Orford has really embraced tourism; so well that you could drive through and not notice it was there at all. Just how it should be. The village is really pleasant to walk through, lovely red brick houses, nice old pubs, one tiny store, a village hall and a fabulous bakery/cafe. It is all subtle, there are no overt signs, nothing showy. Just a small village full of seemingly very friendly people. They do it well. So shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone or they will come along and spoil it.  I must admit I fell in love with it, as I suspect do a lot of other visitors.

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St Bartholomew is an old Norman church in Orford, originally built around the same time as the castle in the 1170s, though there were extensive modifications in 1300s. The chancel was walled off in the 18th century and then collapsed in 1830. The remains were restored in the 60s and 70s and is a charming and peaceful little spot.

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After a invigorating coffee and a totally unnecessary, but delicious slice of chocolate brownie I went to visit Orford Castle. I was surprised at how popular it was, a full car park and a number of other visitors. I thought it was only me who liked out of the way castles !

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Orford Castle was completed in 1173, under King Henry II. The keep, for something so old, is in remarkably good condition and is the best preserved keep in the UK from that period. Though the castle lost favour with the crown after the death of Henry it still had some significance as Orford was a major trading port. More important than  nearby Ipswich, which is hard to believe now! Unlike so many other castles Orford pretty much allows access to the whole building, there are loads of little rooms and hall ways and of course my favourite – spiral staircases. All maintained by English Heritage, who are doing a great job here. 

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I enjoyed my visit, the highlights for me were the old names carved into the walls, I like to believe they are original.

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I am staying in Lowestoft overnight, I thought it was the nearest town with accommodation, but when I walked past I noted that one of the pubs in Orford had rooms. I looked it up when I got home as I thought it might be a nice place for El and I to visit in summer. At £270 a night (including dinner for two) I think we will have to pass! Orford is a lovely village though, and I will return now that I have a car.

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Over my pre-castle visit coffee I looked through my ruins book and decided to check out St Andrews Church in Covehithe as it is pretty much on the way to Lowestoft and looked quite interesting.

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The oldest part of the church remains are from the 15th century. What is unusual about this particular church is that rather than it being destroyed by war or by royal decree it was pulled down by its own parishioners in 1672 when they could no longer afford the upkeep. The smaller church was constructed inside it – and is still operating today.

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 It is a lovely little spot, made a bit moody by some heavy handed editing to make the clouds look a bit fuller than they really were. Though to be fair to me it did actual drizzle a bit while I was there. What I liked about St Andrews is that there was some detail still left in the stone work, you could imagine what the building looked like with the tiled finish on the outside.

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About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
This entry was posted in Blog, Britain, England and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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