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Bungay Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Bungeye; castellum de Buneie; Bungehia; Bungeia; Bungeie

In the civil parish of Bungay.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TM336897
Latitude 52.45590° Longitude 1.43590°

Bungay Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Medieval castle and associated earthworks. The castle was built as a keep with two baileys in 1165 by the Earl of Norfolk. He rebelled against the King, and in 1174, after a short siege involving a mining assault to bring the keep down, was surrendered and the keep slighted. Licence to refortify the site was granted in 1294, the wreck of the early keep being surrounded by a wall with a twin tower gatehouse and a single tower. At this time the inner bailey was also walled. The castle was abandoned circa 1365. (PastScape)

Now almost a complete ruin, the remains of 2 circular towers still stand, with lower part with squared stonework. The ground plan was originally octagonal and the keep 54 ft square. Remains of walls are scattered about in flint rubble work, as are the various outer defences, earthworks, moats, etc. In 1140 Hugh Bigod, who had been created 1st Earl of Norfolk by Stephen, supported a rebellion against the King and was defeated at Bungay, and the Castle reduced. Re-instated, Hugh Bigod was again attacked, this time by Henry II on his accession to the throne, and was defeated and pardned on condition that the fortress was dismantled. This was carried out, and it remained uninhabitable, until 1281. Another Roger Bigod then obtained a licence to embattle his house, which stood on the old castle site. By 1312 the Castle had passed to Thomas de Brotherton in the reign of Edward II. In 1338, a daughter of Brotherton marrying Edward de Montacute the Castle passed into that family, and again changed ownership by marriage of his daughter to William de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk. By 1382 an inquisition reports that the castle was old and ruinous. By 1477 the property had passed to the Howards and soon after was again consigned to neglect as a residence. From C16 onwards it changed hands from time to time as a ruined site until about the year 1800 it passed back to the then Earl of Norfolk. (PastScape–ref. listing report of 1949)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1294 April 20 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


On high ground, virtually surrounded by the Waveney, a defence of more value when the flood plain was still marshy. Braun felt this was the site of a Norman motte and bailey of c. 1070. The Square Great Tower being built on the motte (which, if it existed, was either a low motte or levelled prior to building) seems to be securely dated to 1165. This tower was damaged in 1174 in a siege, the tunnel which undermined the tower still remains (However most of the damage done to the tower, now a mere foundation stump, was done in the C18). There may have been a period of abandonment. The twin drum towered gatehouse, although it has some early C13 features, does seem to date from the work associated with the 1294 licence. The gatehouse itself cannot have been the residence for Roger Bigod so, presumably, repairs were done to the Great Tower to make it inhabitable (c.f. Rochester Castle.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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