The downside of visiting England in January is that many places are either closed or have limited opening times. We had one weekend in Suffolk and unfortunately Joe got sick on Saturday so Al and I decided to go grocery shopping in Saxmunden. That meant that we only had one day, Sunday to visit any sites that were only open on the weekend. It came down to a choice between Framlingham Castle and Sutton Hoo. Sutton Hoo won.
On Thursday, which was our last day at Iken we decided to take a ride into Framlingham just to have lunch and poke around. It turned out to be an excellent idea. Sometimes spontaneity turns out amazingly well.
As we pulled into town and looked for a good place to park we noticed a parking lot right near the castle. We also noticed that the castle doors were open. We were quite surprised but took the opportunity to walk in and have a look. As it turned out, the castle was closed to visitors, there was construction going on but the workers had no objection to allowing us to walk around in the interior courtyard. It was quite a lot more than we had expected.
Why would we want to visit Framlingham Castle? Mary Tudor was staying at Framlingham Castle when she was declared Queen of England in July 1553. The castle itself dates from the 12th century and had been in the hands of the Dukes of Norfolk for many generations and through several different families beginning with the Bigods.
We noticed there was a great pub adjacent to the parking lot and decided that we would have lunch there. However, it was a little early to eat and we needed to find an ATM so we headed off into downtown. We found a bank close by, did our banking and then decided to visit the parish church, St Michaels.
Entering the confines we were astonished to find out that this was where the Duke of Norfolk was buried. Not just any Duke of Norfolk but Anne Boleyn’s uncle Thomas Howard. That alone would have been pretty amazing but also buried in the church are the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard who was executed by King Henry VIII for treason and Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII. It was quite exciting to find all these famous people buried in this one village church.
We now headed back to the Castle Inn to have our pub lunch. It is by the way a very historic inn, it is rumored that both Mary Tudor and Dick Turpin frequented the pub, not however at the same time. It is the oldest pub in Framlingham and is reputed to be haunted. Joe and I settled for baguettes with ham and cheese and egg salad and Al opted for a jacket potato. Nothing extraordinary but we enjoyed relaxing and planning the rest of our day.
There was an antique store across the street. It was a multi-dealer shop and while I didn’t actually buy anything, the prices were quite reasonable and there was an interesting mix of collectibles and small antique pieces.
If you visit on the weekend or during the season when the castle is open I can image that you could easily spend the better part of a day exploring Framlingham.