Castle Acre

Castle Acre Castle and town walls are a set of ruined medieval defences built in the village of Castle AcreNorfolk. The castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest by William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey, at the intersection of the River Nar and the Peddars Way. William constructed a motte-and-bailey castle during the 1070s, protected by large earthwork ramparts, with a large country house in the centre of the motte. Soon after, a small community of Cluniac monks were given the castle’s chapel in the outer bailey; under William, the second earl, the order was given land and estates to establish Castle Acre Priory alongside the castle. A deer park was created nearby for hunting.

After civil war broke out in England in 1135, the third earl, also called William, set about improving the defences of the castle. He began to build a tall keep on top of the motte, reinforcing the surrounding earthworks with stone walls. A planned settlement was established alongside the castle, surrounded by its own earthworks and walls, and the Peddars Way was redirected to pass by the castle, town and priory, all important symbols of the de Warennes’ power in the region. Hamelin de Warenne acquired the castle through marriage and curtailed the building work on the keep around 1165, but completed the construction of three large stone gatehouses in the castle and town. One of these, the town’s bailey gate, still survives intact.

The de Warennes continued to hold the castle until 1347, when it was inherited by Richard Fitzalan, the Earl of Arundel. By 1397 the fortifications were in ruins and, despite restoration work by Sir Edward Coke at the start of the 17th century, the decline continued until the 20th century. In 1971, Thomas Coke, the Earl of Leicester, placed the castle into the guardianship of the state. In the 21st century, it is managed by English Heritage and open to visitors. Historic England consider the castle’s huge defensive earthworks to be “among the finest surviving in England”.[1]

Castle Acre

Castle Acre

Castle Acre

Castle Acre

Castle Acre

10 Comments CherryPie on Oct 7th 2022

10 Responses to “Castle Acre Castle”

  1. lisl says:

    The earthworks are certainly very impressive

  2. What a superb castle and great earthworks. My son would love it there – he loves motte and baileys.

  3. I think we’re so lucky to have such access to places like this. :)

  4. Castle Acre really is a splendid place – a castle and abbey at each end, with a lovely village centre and pub. The barbican gate is impressive too. Great photos, CP – it looks as though it had been pretty dry.

    • CherryPie says:

      My friend who took us there told us that there had been very little rain in Norfolk for several months.

      Everywhere was parched like you see in these photos.

  5. lowcarbdiabeticJan says:

    So many years since visiting Norfolk…
    This does look a good place to visit.

    All the best Jan