“The Use Of Framlingham Castle Has Changed A lot Over Time”. To What Extent Does The Site And Sources Support This Hypothesis?


The question is ‘The use of Framlingham Castle has changed a lot over time’ to what extent does the site and the sources support the hypothesis. Well in order to answer this question you must first break the question down and define it. So the first important word within this question is use meaning uses meaning how the castle was used. The next one is a lot being that this means more then once. The last two important words are site and sources this being the site of Framlingham castle at the moment and sources about the castle. So in order to answer the question I must use both of these to come to a good conclusion to the hypothesis.

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History Of Framlingham Castle

Medieval Period

The site has been used since the sixth century. It was an anglo Saxon Fort. Under the Normans from 1066 onwards the Motte and Bailey were built so therefore the Hill at Framlingham is man made. Until 1101 it was under the control of the King. In 1101 the castle was given to Roger Le Bigod. HE fought with William The Conqueror at the battle of Hastings. He was also given lots of land in Norfolk, he was rewarded by Henry the first. Roger died and was followed by his son William. William however died at a fairly young age sailing back from France. Rogers’ second son Hugh then got the estate.

Hugh Bigod

Hugh Bigod inherited the estate in 1120. In 1122 he was made constable of Norwich castle, which meant he looked after the castle for the crown. At this time Henry I only has a daughter called Matilda to take the thrown when he dies. There is a big crisis over gets the thrown. Stephen Of Blois claims the English thrown. Stephen plans to invade England once Henry dies. Henry dies when Matilda is in France so Stephen of Blois invades and is crowned King. Henry Bigod supports Stephens invasion but Hugh had promised Henry that he would help Matilda get the thrown. In the next year Hugh turns against king Stephen, he launches a rebellion from Norwich castle. King Stephen crushes this rebellion but forgives Hugh. In 1153 Hugh supports another invasion this time by Henry of Anjoue. The invasion is successful and Henry is crowned Henry II. In 1157 Hugh turns against Henry and Henry takes his army to Norfolk and defeats Hugh. Hugh however still keeps his estates. In 1173 Hugh then supports Henry the seconds son against Henry. However Hugh doesn’t get any support so gives in and bribes other barons so they don’t come in and take his estates. In 1174 Hugh attacks Norwich castle, Henry comes into Norwich and Hugh is forced to give in but keeps his land. The Bigods then abandon Framlingham as their base and move to Orford. Hugh Bigod dies in 1177 and the King confiscates Framlingham and the Bigods other estates.

Roger Bigod II

Richard becomes king to become Richard II. Richard likes the Bigod family and returns their estates including Framlingham. Roger Bigod then builds stonewalls around Framlingham castle. Roger remains loyal to King Richard. After Richard dies his cousin John gets the crown. John is forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. John had to follow rules like no other King had to do in English history. Bigod was one of the nobles who had to enforce these rules. John doesn’t like having to follow these rules. In 1216 John attacks Framlingham. The battle lasts two days before Roger is forced to give in. The castle was defended by the following.

26 knights

20 soldiers and archers

7 crossbowmen

a chaplain

and 3 others (as stated in source D)

This shows that not many men were needed to defend a castle.

John confiscates all the Bigod estates. King John dies in 1221. He is succeeded to the thrown by Henry III and the Bigods are given back all their estates once again.

The next two controllers of Framligham are Hugh and Roger Bigod again but not much is known about these two.

Roger Bigod IV

He leads a rebellion against Edward I in 1297. He did this because the King tried to force barons to fight the war in France. The King threatens with death. In 1307 when roger dies the King confiscates everything.


In the 1300’s Framlingham is a royal castle. In 1397 Richard II awards the Thomas Mowbray with title of Duke Of Norfolk and so Mowbray is loyal to him. The Mowbrays control the Framlingham estate until the latter parts of the 15th century.

16th century


In 1485 the war of the roses ended with the battle of Bosworth where Henry Tudor defeats Richard III to become Henry VII. The Howards were loyal to Henry so he awarded them the Dukeship of Norfolk. They then get the Framlingham estate. During there time at the Castle they use it as luxury place to live. They build 13 Tudor style chimneys all along the walls of the castle and only two of these actually work. All the chimneys have a different pattern on them. The chimneys are a sign of status so the better the chimneys are the higher in status you are. The Howard family fall out of favour with Henry the VIII after the reformation of the church as they were strict Catholics and objected to it. Thomas Howard was imprisoned in the tower of London and was going to be executed on the 24th of June 1547 luckily for Thomas, Henry dies before the execution date.

Mary Tudor

Edward VI came to the thrown and gave Framlingham to his sister Mary. She becomes queen in 1553 when Edward dies. But before she becomes queen there is a crisis over the thrown as the powers that be did not want a catholic ruler even if she was the rightful heir. Lady Jane Grey became queen for 9 days during which Mary stayed at Framlingham and 20,000 supporters of hers camped outside to show their support. During her reign Mary does not stay at Framlingham again.

End of 16th century

17th century

Elizabeth I

The castle is held by the crown. During her reign the castle was used as a prison for catholic priests (recusant priests) who refused to change religions. In 1613 the castle is returned to the Howards. The Howards do not live there again though and from then on they live in Kenninghall in Norfolk.

17th century – 19th century

In 1635 they sell the castle to Robert Hitcham a wealthy lawyer and MP. He wants the stone from the castle to be used to build a poorhouse. In 1636 Robert Hitcham died and left the property to Pembroke College. The building of the poorhouse started in 1664.Mainly children live there. They go there to get work, they also get education. 1699+ the poorhouse tended to be adults as the children were apprenticed out. The poorhouse functions until 1839.

19th Century

A Law is passed so each parish didn’t have their own poor house but union poor houses were made so there were very large poorhouses for more then 1 parish. So now the poor would go to Wickham market so Framlingham was used very sporadically for a drill hall and fire station.

20th Century

in 1913 Pembroke College handed over Framlingham to the state, when in 1984 it was taken over by the English Heritage and is now used as a music center as it has very good acoustic qualities and also as a tourist center.

National Events And How They Affected Framlingham Castle

Medieval Times

During this time castles were granted to barons for being loyal and supporting the crown militarily. In this time three important families owned Framlingham in turn these being the Bigods, Mowbrays and Howards. The Bigods and Mowbrays both had histories of rebelling against the monarch as used the castle as a base to do this. So if they failed the castle and estates would be taken from the proprietor.

Sixteenth Century

This was the period when the reformation of the churches occurred. This is when the protestant church broke away from the Roman Catholic church and Henry VIII made himself head of the church of England. As a result there was conflicts between catholic and Protestants. The way these two groups were treated depended on the monarch. Where Edward and Elizabeth were protestants so favoured them while Mary was catholic so favoured them. While Elizabeth was in power she used Framlingham as a prison for recusant priest as a result of the reformation of the church.

Also with the reformation the monasteries in England were closed down. Now you may think that this wouldn’t be a problem but the monasteries did a lot of work helping the old, sick and poor. The church could no longer help the amount of people they once did. Food prices increased and growing population meant that unemployment increased. Thus it was up to the monarchy to help these people. In 1601 under Elizabeth’s reign a law was passed called “The Elizabethan Poor Law” this meant that:

Each Parish had to look after their own poor

A poor rate was to be collected from every household by Overseers of the church (often church wardens)

Each parish had to build a poorhouse where the poor could live and work. There work would be simple like making rope and any money made would go back into the running cost of the poorhouse (this was called indoor relief)

Where no poorhouses were built people would be helped in their homes (this was called outdoor beliefs)

This is why Framlingham had a poorhouse built there.

19th Century

In 1834 a new poor law passed. Saying that parishes had to come together to make ‘union’ work. This meant more often then not paupers (poor people) would now have to receive help outside their parish. This meant that buildings that were there for the original poor law were now left abandoned. This is why Framingham’s poorhouse stopped functioning.

Another important part of this time period was the Victorian attitude to old buildings. During this time Victorians built many new buildings in the gothic style such as the houses of parliament. The Victorians were not very interested in preserving old buildings so many buildings such as castles fell into disrepair. Which is why Framlingham was only used very sparadically

20th Century

In the twentieth century societies with the aims of preserving buildings and sites directly linked with our past were setup. These include “English Heritage” and “National Trust”. The tourism industry grew with people becoming paid members of these groups. The profits from the organizations are then used to purchase more sites and restore them thus leading to even bigger growth of the tourism industry. Also at the same time as this history became a larger part in school teaching and so these sites are also used by schools as trip locations and fieldwork.

Uses Of The Castle During The Different Time Periods And How Its Been Adapted For These (conclusion)

Medieval Period

In the medieval period Framlingham castle was used as a basis to attack and defend. There were many things that made Framlingham suited for this. The Anglo Saxons first notices this as they built a fort here. The motte and bailey was added by the Normans to go in keeping with the rest of there castles as the Normans felt this was the best way for quick and easy building of defence positions, you can see the motte and bailey in the site pictures. Roger Bigod II built stonewalls around the site with defence in mind. You can see this for a number of reasons. The walls are very large and thick as stated in source A ‘ It has walls 4 feet high and 8 feet thick” First off the Crenellation of the top of the wall is a defense feature. The crenellation is made up of merlons and embrasures. A merlon is where there is a gap in the wall and an embrasure is where the wall is raised. You can see this in Sorrel’s painting of medieval Framlingham (painted in the 1950’s) and also in the site photos I have taken. This was so the crossbowmen or anyone on the wall at a time of attack could hide and then pop out and fire. Another feature is the arrow loops. This was there to add extra protection for the defenders of the castle again you can see this in my site photos. Another feature of Framlingham, which made it a good place of defence, is the landscape. Around the castle there is a natural lake and so the land is a little marshy. So the attackers had a hard time just getting to the castle again the site photos show this. The walls had 13 towers along them, which were each like miniature castles themselves. The attackers would have to come over the wall and take all 13 towers before the castle would be conquered. Once a tower had been taken the defenders would remove a wooden plank bridge cutting off access to the rest of the wall walk. The staircases in the towers went anti clockwise. This was because the attackers would be coming down the stairs after coming over the wall rather then up the stairs from coming in through the main gateway. They were anti clockwise so the defenders had the advantage as because most people were right handed they could have the largest swing on their swords. Also the castle has a natural well which is a good water supply so that the inhabitants could survive a siege, this is shown in the.

16th Century

16th century onwards it was no longer used as a place for attack or defence. Instead in the 16th century it was used by the Howard’s as a luxury home. They changed it from a defence base to a home by doing a number of things. They build 13 Tudor style chimneys all along the walls of the castle and only two of these actually work. All the chimneys have a different pattern on them. The chimneys are a sign of status so the better the chimneys are the higher in status you are. You can see this in the site photos. The Howard’s also added brickwork around the castle. They did this to maintain safety, as they would have had children around so the made sure the crenellation was high enough so they didn’t fall down and also covered the well so the children didn’t fall in that. They also added brickwork to maintain the classic shape of the crenellation.

17th Century

During the late 16th century and the early 17th century the castle was owned by the crown and Elizabeth I used it as a prison for recusant priests. She didn’t make any changes to the site however for this.


In 1664 stone from the site was used to build a poorhouse there. This was the wish of Robert Hitcham who had bought the property from the Howard’s in 1635 but died the next year and left the property to Pembroke College. Once the poorhouse was finished mostly children went there to get work but they also got an education. As stated in source H ‘Children were clothed in blew bonnets as at Christ Church Hospital and to have Sir Robert Hitcham’s arms upon their coats… The master of the poorhouse was every day to give leave to each child two hours to read, write or cast accounts as the School Master think fittest’ The poorhouse was built using stone from the Great Hall and or the Chapel. The poorhouse was built on the site of the Great Hall. The poorhouse functions until 1839.

19th Century

After 1839 Framlingham was used sparadically as a drill hall and firestation but was not lived in.

In 1913 Pembroke College handed over the site to the State. In 1984 it was taken over by English Heritage where it is now used as a tourist center and also a place where concerts are held because of its excellent acoustic qualities. This is shown in source J ‘Jazz at Fram’. In source J it gives details of events happening at Framlingham castle. In order for English Heritage to make it into a tourist center they restored some of the stonework and also made the wall walk safe, so basically just made everything safer for the public.

So in conclusion you can see that by using the Site and the sources that Framlingham Castle’s use has changed a lot from the time it was built to present day. So in effect I agree with the hypothesis in the question.