The Village of Orford in Suffolk

Orford Suffolk Holidays

A visitors guide to the  charming seaside village of Orford in Suffolk, with its mix of quaint cottages and elegant houses.  Orford lies on the River Ore and is yet another port that was eventually cut off from the sea when a large shingle spit grew across the harbour mouth. This ten mile shingle spit named Orford Ness is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe and a haven for wildlife. 

It was once used as a secret military site and there are still some buildings left over from the Cold War years. Orford Ness is now managed by the National Trust and at its easterly point is a red and white lighthouse that has not been used since 1627.
The village has an attractive quay where you can take a number of boat trips ranging from one to four hours. Some of the trips are across to Havergate Island and Orford Ness. Havergate Island houses one of the oldest colonies of avocets and is owned by the Royal Society of Protection of Birds.

The village has a butchers, a supply stores with a delicatessens, off licence, pubs/inns and a renowned fish restaurant.

This area offers sailing, fishing, walking, bird watching and is popular with artists and photographers. Orford is also famous for its oyster beds and many of the pubs and restaurants offer fresh fish and oysters on their menus. Eateries include The Kings Head Inn; The Crown and Castle;  Butley Orford Oysterage and The Jolly Sailor Inn.

The historic town of Orford is set around the impressive ruins of a 12th century Norman castle with a five storey Great Tower still intact.  Built by Henry II as a coastal defence against invaders from the sea as well as putting out of joint the nose of Hugh Bigod the owner of Framlingham Castle. Henry drained the nearby marshes to build the castle, which in turn changed the coastal geography and turned Orford into a sheltered port.

Orford castle is one of the earliest castle whose entire building accounts still exist, the Castle is now looked after by English Heritage. Great views can be enjoyed from the top of the Great Tower, which is some ninety feet in height. In the time of King Henry II in the early 1200s the fishermen of Orford caught a merman in their fishing nets. Bartholemew de Glanville was in charge of the castle at Orford at this time and it was to him that the fishermen of Orford dragged this naked man. He had a long shaggy beard and was covered in hair and seemed to be more at home in the water than ever he was on the land. He was confined to the dungeons in Orford Castle and did not speak even when he was tortured so the story goes. His captors allowed him to swim in the sea but guarded him with nets. Despite these precautions he easily swam under the nets but returned to his captors of his own free will. Then one day he dove under the nets and was never seen again.

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