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When in Bungay, it is easy to miss Bigod’s Castle as it is hidden behind shops houses and modern buildings. A narrow path takes you to the cafe and visitor centre. Sometimes known as Bungay Castle, it is built by the Bigod’s in the 12th Century, 1165 to be exact then further developed in 1924.
The Bigod’s were a powerful Norman family. They helped King William with the Conquest of England in 1066. In return King William granted them manors and lands throughout East Anglia. Among these, Bungay and Framlingham. You can learn more about the history at the bottom of this article.
Entrance to the Castle
While there are other ways to get to the Castle such as via Castle Orchard, we found a small path, Castle Orchard off a corner of St Mary’s Street, across the road from the town’s market square. The sign to the castle is behind a road sign and bus stop so unless you are looking, you might miss it. The Path is sandwiched between shops and buildings. When you see the Bus Top Shelter, Pharmacy and Post Office on St Mary’s Street and you are not far off.
To enter the Castle, you will need to enter via Bigod’s Kitchen and Visitor Center. Of course, if you just want to catch a glimpse of the castle from the outside, continue on the road next to Bigod’s Kitchen and Visitor Centre. The path will take you right up to the entrance of the castle.
Bigod’s Castle (Bungay Castle) Photos
History of Bungay Castle
Hugh Bigod inherited the family properties in 1120. He was a bold and charismatic leader amongst the local barons. In 1136, using Bungay as his power base, he raised an army against King Stephen and managed to seize the royal castle of Norwich. Following negotiations, Stephen rewarded Bigod with the title of Earl of Suffolk to win his loyalty but it only resulted in Bigod gaining greater support in the region. He would use this influence to raise an army against the King again.
Things took a turn when Henry II ascended to the throne in 1154. He deprived Hugh of his lands both in Bungay and Framlingham but allowed him to retain his title of Earl. By 1163, he was finally subdued and as he no longer posed a threat. His properties were then returned to him.
This was when he started building a stone keep that took almost 10 years to complete. The walls of the castle were built 5-7 meters thick and in their prime stood more than 33 meters tall. This was taller than the existing tower of St Mary’s church. Hugh claimed that it was one of the strongest fortress in the kingdom.
You can learn more about the Bungay Castle here.
Address: Bigod Castle, Bungay NR35 1DD
Website: Bungay Castle & Castle Hills
Admission: Free entry but donations welcome. Enter through the cafe (Bigod’s Kitchen) and visitor centre