Monday, July 06, 2015

Castle Rising

The lovely village of Castle Rising in Norfolk is dominated by its castle.  This castle is one of my favourites and to me it is beautiful from every angle. It has got to be around thirty years since my last visit so it was great to see it again. We arrived at the free car park at 10a.m. just as the place was opening so we were able to spend the first half hour of our visit entirely alone in the building.

 Shall we go inside?

 This enclosed staircase is one of my favourite parts of the castle.  I love the sweep of the steps as you climb up to the entrance vestibule which used to lead to the great hall.

The original entrance arch to the great hall can still be seen but it was blocked up in the 16th century and a fireplace was constructed in the opening.

 Below a passageway cut through the thickness of the walls, again in the 16th century.  It leads to the kitchens and garderobes.


 The centre of the castle is roofless

Above is what remains of the great hall.  This was a grand public room where feasting took place and where the lord of the castle entertained his guests.

Next to the great hall is the great chamber where the lord of the castle would have slept and conducted his more private business.  Interestingly this room contained two garderobes both probably had doors but only one has a urinal as well as the usual construction.  According to the information panel this begs the question - does Castle Rising have the first known surviving example of separate facilities for men and women?

 Next to the Great Chamber is the chapel.  The castle was started in the year 1140 by a Norman Lord called William de Albini who had married Alice of Louvain, the widow of King Henry I. His influence in style came from the William Rufus keep in Norwich Castle.  It was completed by his son William de Albini II who transformed it to a grand and important residence.  In 1544 the Castle came into the hands of the Howard family as it was bequeathed to Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk by Henry VIII and it is still owned by descendants of this family.


The Upper Chamber was added in the early 14th century.  You will notice a fire grate from around 1800 in the room.  This was added when the castle was used as Rising's police station.  There is also a tale about this room from the 18th century.  It was used as a cell for a sea captain for his own safety after his experiences in naval warfare 'turned his mind' - I guess this would have been what we know as 'shell shock' or post traumatic stress disorder.


 We left the inside of the castle and walked around the earthworks.  You can view the gatehouse from here and also the castle from every angle.


Above are the ruins of a church c.1100 which was discovered in the 19th century having been covered by collapsed earth from the earthworks.  It is thought that this church was demolished when the castle was built.

Above is the later church, photo taken from the earthworks, which was built in the village

We walked into the village towards the church passing a lovely cafe with an outside garden and seating area on the way.  It is quite easy to get into the village from the other entrance to the castle which is on the village side.

The parish church of St Lawrence was begun c1140, there are still many Norman features but as with many parish churches it has undergone extensive restoration during the 19th century.

We had a quick peek inside but I didn't take any photos as they were setting up flower arrangements for the flower festival and village fete to be held over the weekend and I didn't like to intrude.  The displays of wildflowers either side of the entrance porch were so pretty.

Below is the 15th century Market Cross beyond which is the site of the medieval market place, now a useful area for the tents and awnings being erected for the village Fete.

Below are some of the carvings and features found both inside and outside of the castle


One of the Castle's most well known and notorious residents was Queen Isabella wife of Edward II.  She was known as 'the she-wolf of France' and lived in the castle after the Edward's death.  She and her lover Roger Mortimer were implicated in his deposition and murder.  She was visited at the Castle on several occasions by her son Edward III.

22 comments:

  1. Great post Rosie, super photos.

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  2. What a fascinating place - and even better when you have it to yourselves for a while!

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    1. I love having places to myself, even if just for a short while - I can stop to take photos and take my time on stairs and etc without feeling I'm in someone's way:)

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    1. Indeed, it is very atmospheric:)

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  4. It's years since I went. I still have a photo of those arches in your last-but-one photo - and it was on good old fashioned film!

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    1. We had a few photos taken on film which we have now digitised - still have boxes of slides, negatives and old photo though:)

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  5. Interesting, particularly that it was later used as a police station.

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    1. Yes, it must have been one of the most unsusual police stations in the country at the time:)

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  6. Lovely historical post Rosie. I do find it hard to imagine living in the castle. I love the little door to the right of the original entrance. Did you enter it and go up the stairs? x

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    1. Yes, it leads to the passage way in the photo next to one below it and that leads to the kitchens or off to the left the great hall (where the bricked in door would have gone in) the little door, stairs and passage were later additions:)

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  7. Like you I had the whole castle to myself when I visited a couple of years back. Must pay another visit someday.

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    1. Yes, do go back and don't leave it as long as I did before returning. It's great to have a place like this to yourself isn't it?:)

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  8. The amount of times I have passed the signs for Castle Rising while on the A17! I really must pay this place a visit. Thanks so much for the interesting tour, what a great place! xx

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    1. If you go that way quite often it is well worth stopping off if you can even just for a look at the village but the castle is wonderful and well worth a visit:)

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  9. What a beautiful trip! I would like to visit this castle!!

    Sandra

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    1. It is a lovely place to visit and very interesting too:)

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  10. An interesting Norman castle with a rich history. I've only seen it when watching tv documentaries and so enjoyed this post of your visit.

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    1. It is a fascinating and picturesque castle and the old hospital, church and market cross in the village are fascinating too:)

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  11. Thanks for posting this Rosie, the castle appears to have withstood the centuries surprisingly well.

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    1. It does seem to have been cared for quite well over the years:)

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