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Photo Tour: Medieval English Castle

In August of 2000, Marian and I toured Orford Castle, located on the east coast of England, about halfway between London and Norwich.

At the time, I was working in London on a six-month software development project, and Marian came out to visit me for a couple of weeks, during which we did some on-site research in Belgium for the second half of Glass Souls and toured medieval sites in southwestern England. We were in the early stages of plotting a historical romance set in early 13th-century England (a book, alas, we never got around to writing) and decided that Orford Castle might be a good setting, so we took a detour on the way home to London and spent an afternoon visiting this extremely well-preserved medieval fortress.

Construction began on the castle in 1168, as part of King Henry II’s plan for improving England’s coastal defenses along the English Channel. It was intended to guard the harbor of Orford, then an important port.

The castle has an unusual polygonal shape, with two round Great Halls (one located in the lower story and one in the upper story), with a maze of tiny corridors leading to various chambers (kitchen, chapel, latrines, prison cells, etc.) around the perimeters of these halls. Since it was in the nature of a military barracks rather than a residence, some of the usual luxury features of a residential castle are not present at Orford Castle.

A complete floorplan can be found on Orford Castle’s Wikipedia page.

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