A £1.2million visitor improvement and conservation project is underway at one of Suffolk’s best-known tourist attractions… 

English Heritage has started work on the first phase of a two-stage project at Framlingham Castle, which will see the introduction of a new 40-seat café as well as a new and improved exhibition space. An original mezzanine level will be reinstated in the castle’s Poorhouse to house new interpretation so visitors can learn about the castle’s fascinating history. The new café and an extended retail space will be situated on the ground floor of the Poorhouse, where the exhibition currently stands.

Meanwhile the Red House, which sits in the grounds of Framlingham Castle, will be utilised for office and storage space and will house the café’s kitchen and service area. Elsewhere on site, annual conservation works will take place to some of the castle’s walls.

During the first phase of the project, which is due to be completed in June 2017, a 7.5 metre slide will be installed from the wall walk into the castle’s inner court for visitors to enjoy.

Following the first phase of the project, English Heritage is planning to fundraise for a second phase which would see a 360˚ wall walk created. Accessibility for disabled visitors and families with buggies would also be improved to the wall walk, with a lift being installed to give them access to a newly-built balcony area.

Steve Bax, Historic Properties Director for English Heritage in the London & East region, said: “We’re delighted to have started working on this exciting visitor improvement project at Framlingham Castle. The site has a fascinating history and creating a new interpretation and exhibition space will enable visitors to uncover the castle’s many stories including how, behind its walls, Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England. A new café will also be a great addition to the site for visitors to enjoy.

‘Once the first phase of the project is complete we’ve then got some ambitious plans to add a new section to the wall walk; this section would be fully accessible for wheelchairs and buggies and will create a 360˚ wall walk experience.’

English Heritage is working with architect’s Acanthus Clews and builders Heritage Building and Conservation have been appointed to carry out the building works following a tender process.

Throughout the project Framlingham Castle will be open at weekends and is due to re-open fully in summer 2017, although the site will also be open over the festive period, from Tuesday 27th to Saturday 31st December. Visitors will still be able to access the wall walk while the works are on-going – and enjoy the slide once it’s installed – however the Poorhouse will be closed due to the building works taking place.

Framlingham is a magnificent late 12th-century castle, surviving now as a rare example of an intact curtain wall with wall walk. Surrounded by parkland and estates, it was once at the centre of a vast network of power and influence. Its owners for over 400 years were the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk, the supreme magnates in East Anglia – rich, ambitious and influential both at home and abroad.