Help defend our castles: English Heritage puts out a plea for Norfolk and Suffolk’s stone fortresses

PUBLISHED: 16:39 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:40 20 August 2018

Baconsthorpe Castle. Pictured is the Inner Gatehouse. Picture: Ian Burt

Baconsthorpe Castle. Pictured is the Inner Gatehouse. Picture: Ian Burt

The have survived sieges and bombardments, attacking armies and wars, but now our region’s castles are facing a new threat – invasive weeds, penetrating damp and severe weather.

Visitors enjoy Framlingham Castle. Picture: ENGLISH HERITAGEVisitors enjoy Framlingham Castle. Picture: ENGLISH HERITAGE

English Heritage looks after 66 castles across England including Weeting, Baconsthorpe and Castle Acre Castle in Norfolk and Framlingham and Orford castles in Suffolk.

This year, the charity is planning to spend £1.9m on wall repairs including removing deep-rooted harmful weeds like ivy and valerian - but has called on the public to help go further.

English Heritage is aiming to raise £50,000 via its castles crowd-funding appeal as part of a #LoveCastles summer season, in the hope of preserving these stone landmarks for future generations to enjoy.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s chief executive, said while the region’s castles were proving more popular than ever, the threats they were facing from the ravages of time and the environment were not to be underestimated.

Castle Acre Castle in some sunshine and cloud. Picture: Martin SizelandCastle Acre Castle in some sunshine and cloud. Picture: Martin Sizeland

Ms Mavor said: “So far this summer we’ve seen more people than ever visit the castles in our care. But if these fortresses are to survive for future generations to enjoy, we need people’s help to defend them today – not from sieges or cannon balls but from weeds and damp, the wind and the rain.”

Experts continually undertake urgent conservation work at the castles across the country - which can involve removing extensive ivy, shrubs and sometimes even trees whose roots are growing deep into the castle walls.

Once that work has been done, the castle walls need to be repaired and this can involve re-bedding the loose masonry before using bespoke lime mortars to repoint the joints that have been forced open by strong roots. In some cases they will have to replace eroded stones to strengthen weakened walls.

Donations can be made online at £25 can pay for one square metre of invasive vegetation to be expertly removed, and £50 can pay for three hours of the skilled stonemasonry needed to conserve the walls

Weeting Castle. Picture: Sonya DuncanWeeting Castle. Picture: Sonya Duncan

£75 can pay for half a square metre of stonework to be repointed with bespoke lime mortars. In return, supporters will receive rewards including private tours of a castle of their choice

A strong heritage: Our castles

Weeting Castle - This is rare surviving example of a grand 12th-century manor house, and a typical example of an East Anglian ‘great house’.

Baconsthorpe Castle - This is a moated and fortified 15th century manor house, that are a testament to the rise and fall of a prominent Norfolk family, the Heydons. Over 200 years, successive generations of this ambitious family built, then enlarged, and finally abandoned this castle.

Orford Castle

. Picture: Sarah Lucy BrownOrford Castle . Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Castle Acre Castle - This castle was founded soon after the Battle of Hastings by the first William de Warenne, a close associate of William the Conqueror. It is a motte-and-bailey castle, and remains one of the most impressive Norman earthworks in the country.

Framlingham Castle - This is a magnificent 12th century fortress with a long and colourful past.

Orford Castle - This is one of England’s most complete and unusual keeps, which visitors to explore from the basement, through the lower and upper halls to the roof..

Framlingham Castle. Picture: SKY CAM EASTFramlingham Castle. Picture: SKY CAM EAST

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