Castle Rising, Kings Lynn, Norfolk

by Miriam Bibby & Elizabeth Craig-Johnson
Address: Castle Rising, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6AH
Telephone: 01553 631330
Website: https://www.castlerising.co.uk/
Owned by: Lord Howard of Rising (English Heritage listed)

Opening times: Open 10.00-16.00 daily from 1 April – 1 November and Wednesday-Sunday 2 November-31 March. Closed 24-26 December. Entrance charges apply.

Public access: There is disabled access to the shop and grounds only. Pre-booking is essential for school visits.

A well preserved 12th century castle and earthwork defences. Built in around 1138 by William d’Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel, the castle has served as a hunting lodge, royal residence and a royal mint. One of the most famous 12th century castles in England, the well-preserved stone keep is amongst the finest surviving examples of its kind and is surrounded by 12 acres of earthwork defences. The massive keep was designed for strength, but the interior was luxurious. William d’Aubigny married the widow of Henry I, and the accommodation was designed to be appropriate for a former queen.

Image from Cassell’s History of England, published circa 1902

Although the roof and floors are now missing, the substantial remains of Castle Rising are imposing, and have an elegant simplicity. It is a rare example of a hall-keep, as it is longer than it is high. Entrance was via the first floor, while the ground floor level was an undercroft for storage, much in the style of a tower-house. The interior was well equipped, with its solar, chapel, hall and gallery, and it was accessed via a forebuilding.

Between 1330 – 1358, it was the residence of the exiled former queen Isabella of France, widow of the murdered Edward II, who died here. Although a prisoner, Isabella’s accommodation was comfortable and even splendid. After her death, Castle Rising became the property of her son, the Black Prince. It eventually fell into disuse. The building and surrounding land became the property of the Howard family in the late 16th century. Its current owner, Lord Howard of Rising, is a descendant of William d’Aubigny.

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