Adults as well as children can hardly fail to be impressed by the imposing Norman keep overlooking this quiet fishing village. It is a motte and keep type, the motte being the mound on which it stands. The unusual polygonal keep has 3 rectangular towers, all built of local stone.
Grassed over ditches are all that remain of the fortifications once completely surrounding it, but for Henry II the castle was worth the £1 400 it cost to build between 1165 and 1173. Although expensive at the time (he spent more only on Dover Castle), its strategic position helped Henry, the Plantagenet king, defend not only the town but access via the river to a large part of East Anglia. He also faced a local rebellion, from Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, who controlled Framlingham Castle, also in Suffolk.
Opposite the castle is St Bartholomew's, a flint church - a traditional material in East Anglia. The main street winds down the hill to the quayside and is lined with red brick traditional fishing cottages.
Just before you reach the quay, a footpath leads off to both right and left across the marshes for those wishing to take a walk along the riverbank. In summer Suffolk can be green and pretty, if a little bleak. In winter it is still beautiful, even when wet and windy. It is also a coastline rich in birdlife, including waders such as the avocet. Havergate Island is an RSPB reserve on the River Ore.
Nearby Orford Ness used to be a radar and MoD research establishment and played an important role in Word War Two. Not all of it is accessible to the public.
The mouth of the river is at Shingle Street and over the centuries the coastline has moved one way and another due to erosion. A tributary, Butley Creek, snakes off at Orford, and futher upriver the Ore metamorphoses into the Alde. The 'Lady Florence' takes passengers out on river cruises with brunch in the summer months.
here is a reasonably priced craft/postcard shop and village store for essentials such as ice creams. You can find locally produced smoked fish.
Orford lies on the B1084 (from the A12). Otherwise, transport is very limited. However, there is a Youth Hostel at nearby Blaxhall, and the flat countryside makes cycling a good way to get around.
The castle is maintained by English Heritage and the opening times are:
24 Mar-30 Sep: 10 am-6 pm, everyday.
1 Oct-31 Mar : 10 am-4 pm, Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun
Entrance: Adult £4.30, Children £2.20, Concession £3.20, English Heritage Members: Free.
There are numerous Bed and Breakfast homes in the area, and also some hotels. See http://www.orford.org.uk for further details.