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Framlingham Castle unveils £1.2m improvements ... and rewrites a chapter of history

PUBLISHED: 16:37 14 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 14 June 2017

Framlingham Castle held a special preview of its visitor improvement and conservation projects. Left to right, Hannah and Jenny Collings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Framlingham Castle held a special preview of its visitor improvement and conservation projects. Left to right, Hannah and Jenny Collings. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The EADT takes a look around the Castle on the Hill’s new visitor attractions.

Much of the work has taken place in the workhouse, formerly known as the poorhouse. Picture: GREGG BROWNMuch of the work has taken place in the workhouse, formerly known as the poorhouse. Picture: GREGG BROWN

After eight centuries of power struggles, rebellion and warfare, Framlingham Castle may be expected to have told all the stories it had to tell.

But as visitors to the newly refurbished historic monument will discover - there are yet more mysteries in wait.

Not only has the £1.2m improvement project seen the creation of a new cafe, gift shop and exhibition space - it has also rewritten its history.

A brand new cafe has been created as part of the project. Picture: GREGG BROWNA brand new cafe has been created as part of the project. Picture: GREGG BROWN

English Heritage members who were given a special preview of the work today ahead of Friday’s official public opening, learned the building that houses much of the new development, previously known as the poorhouse, was in fact a workhouse.

Research has revealed the Red House of 1664 and adjacent stone building of 1729 were built for the poorest members of society to perform useful work in return for financial support and later accommodation.

Shelley Garland, senior properties curator for English Heritage, said the workhouse was one of only two in existence nationally.

Tudor musicians entertained the visitors from the reinstated Mezzanine level. Picture: GREGG BROWNTudor musicians entertained the visitors from the reinstated Mezzanine level. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“It’s extremely exciting,” she said. “It’s the first time in 10 years in my role that we have found such a startling new dimension to our previous understanding.”

Heather Redmond, area manager for the East at English Heritage, said the unveiling marked the completion of two years’ work as the organisation’s largest ongoing project. “I’m really excited to get it open for the public,” she said. “It’s been a brilliant experience not only to make sure we can conserve the castle for future generations but also expand on the visitor experience and make sure people can enjoy a really great day out.”

Curator Jan Summerfield reminded visitors about the castle’s history as a medieval “powerhouse”, while interpretation manager Sarah Tatham showed guests around the new exhibition on a reinstated mezzanine level, which tells the stories of the castle and its owners from the Howard family to Mary Tudor.

A new exhbition has been created to better tell the story of the castle and its occupants. Picture: GREGG BROWNA new exhbition has been created to better tell the story of the castle and its occupants. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Responding to visitor feedback, the new displays feature less text and more interactive elements, including games such as “Spin the King” and “Who Eats What?”, as well as a dressing up section.

The new cafe features a regionally inspired menu with dishes including “Suffolk Grumbly”, made with sausagemeat and a mustard and cheese sauce, as well as Tarte Owte of Lent, a Tudor meal made with ingredients forbidden during Lent.

The gift shop has also been designed to reflect the castle’s history, with specially created units inspired by the Tudor chimneys.

Shelley Garland, senior properties curator, English Heritage, said the project had made some startling discoveries.  Picture: GREGG BROWNShelley Garland, senior properties curator, English Heritage, said the project had made some startling discoveries. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Visitors said they were impressed with the changes.

Alan De Thabrew, from Henham, near Southwold said: “It makes it a much more visitor friendly experience - a better day out with more for people to see and do.”

Lorrette Roberts said it appeared to be an “evolving” project.

Heather Redmond, area manager for the East for English Heritage said she was 'delighted to be unveiling the results'. Picture: GREGG BROWNHeather Redmond, area manager for the East for English Heritage said she was 'delighted to be unveiling the results'. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“I think a lot of thought has gone into it,” she added.

English Heritage is now seeking funding for a 360 degree wall walk, with improved disability access, including a lift to a new balcony area.

The new workhouse opens to the public at 10am on Friday.

Visit here for more information.

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