The Ruins Of Weeting Castle, Norfolk

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Recently we visited Weeting in Norfolk, it’s a place that you drive through to get somewhere and really never stop.  You should stop because it has a history, castle and a round tower church. In my last post we explored the delightful church and now we move onto the castle, although its called a castle, it really is a medieval fortified manor house.

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The castle is tucked away behind a housing estate of bungalows, which are built on the grounds of the old Weeting Hall, demolished in the early 1950’s.  Once you have found your way through the estate you arrive at a small car park, and walk down a grassy path back through time.  The ruins are not castle shaped, they are definitely manor house in shape and surrounded by quite a deep moat, although now totally dry and grassed over. Having researched the building, it is interesting because what you are looking at, is a rare surviving example of a grand 12th century manor house, and a typical example of an East Anglian ‘great house’, in fact rarer than a castle.

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There are enough of the ruins to make out the shape of the great hall and a series of rooms beyond.  This site is visited quite a lot by families, and while we were there, a couple of mums with small children were having a picnic, sitting on the ancient stone walls that are centuries old.  As I started to explore, a thought struck me, we are very lucky that we have so many ruins that are tucked away and from them we can build so much history.  Imagine if the castle had been totally demolished like Weeting Hall and built on, we know it was there, but to have something visual, even just a few stones, fires the imagination so much more.  Even more so when researching, I found out that the remains were incorporated into the gardens of Weeting Hall as an ornamental  feature…..oh well better that then total annihilation, at least they were saved for us to enjoy now.

There is some history at the bottom of the page about the castle, but now I want to research Weeting Hall, which I think is going to have a sadder ending than the castle.  I will have to make a return visit to Weeting to see if there are any signs left of the Hall, I did see a nice old brick wall………..oh and not forgetting the ruins of the other church.

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Now for some history that I found……..Weeting Castle was constructed by Hugh de Plais in about 1180, and was the home of the de Plais family until the late 14th century, when the property passed by marriage to the Howards, Earls of Norfolk and was subsequently abandoned. Hugh de Plais was a tenant of William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey. The Warenne’s Norfolk stronghold at Castle Acre had a similar building to Weeting Castle in the outer bailey, and it is thought that Hugh de Plais copied the design of this building for his own residence. Despite its name, Weeting Castle was never fortified. The rectangular moat that surrounds the building was added in the mid-13th century. Its primary purpose was not defensive, however; it was built to demonstrate the wealth and power of the de Plais family. After the hall went out of use, it was incorporated as an ornamental feature within the grounds of the now demolished Weeting Hall.  The site has a long history of use, from the 10th century until the late 18th century. Archaeological excavations at the southern end of the hall have discovered ditches, burnt daub, post-holes and pottery dating to the Saxon period, suggesting that a Saxon settlement existed here before the stone hall was built.

9 comments

  1. What an amazing place! I would love to wander around those ruins and imagine the Great Hall filled with guests. I like the cut-away reconstruction on the sign, which really gives a good impression of how it would have looked. And a Saxon settlement before…. hmm, I wonder what a metal detector would turn up (assuming all the permissions were given, of course!)

    1. Yes it is amazing, because it still there, of Weeting Hall, there is nothing left and apparently it had wonderful gardens, but all gone. So we are very lucky that this little piece of history is still with us. They have found quite a few saxon bits and pieces, but I’m sure theres still more to be found 🙂

  2. Hello Lynn, Glad to hear all is well with your family . I knew the weather had been warm as have a friend who lives in Kings Lynn and another in Chester who have been marveling at so many fine days. I have another friend traveling in Europe~ in far France and Spain and says the weather has been non stop rain since she arrived in May! Just a day ago some hail fell in Pamplona! So the UK is faring better than Europe at present it would seem. Really am enjoying the posts on Weeting and just goes to show , you never really know what fascinating treasure might be hiding in any place ~ just because it appears on the surface to be ordinary and possibly dull. riches could lie just beyond or under your feet. I find that there is hardly a sq. foot in England that has not had something interesting happen there or built there ~ sometimes one must dig a little deeper (sometimes literally )but at the very least one is always aware that there are hardly any places untouched by the hand of man in England and probably layers upon layers of history. Like your other commenter , love when reproduction images are available near a ruin so you can get a better idea of how it appeared in it’s heyday. It really helps you to visualize and imagine more accurately . Thank you again for sharing and looking forward to all your upcoming posts. Thanks for inquiring about my p.c. and knock on wood, all appears to be well . Cheers.

    1. Hello Valkrye, yes we have been very lucky with the weather for a change. What a shame for your friend travelling Europe, lets hope she gets some nice weather soon. You are right about the layers and even the most uninteresting place will have some history somewhere, you just have to dig a little. I think thats what I enjoy most, taking a little bit and finding its history, it can be amazing. There is a archway in Kings Lynn, your friend will have seen it, it belonged to one of the 4 priories in the town. This archway was doorway to a huge priory where Kings stay and it housed 400 horses and all that is left is a blocked up doorway !!! Thats what I love, I like to stand and look at it and just image what it would have been like. Well I’m glad you have enjoyed the posts on Weeting, there is still more to find out, but that will have to wait until I get a trip back there. Many thanks for your lovely comments, which I enjoy very much 🙂

  3. Hello again Lynn, Sorry I have not been able to respond to your comment sooner. Have heard nothing from my friend but am hoping she will get some fair weather soon~ Yes, I agree, the unearthing interesting bits about ancient places is half the fun ~ love the little things, fragments of information which teases our imagination ~ as you sited, the old blocked doorway being all that remains and yet knowing what it’s function was for so many years and used by so many notable people .. Love the black and white photo of the steam train~ it could be from the turn of the century really ~ even the man’s clothing does not give it away! Wish train travel was like it was in the past~ I loved traveling by train when I was a child and in my 20’s~ especially the sleeper trains~ still would love to do the one which I think runs from London to Edinburgh~I have been on the very fast commuter style train that takes the same route and it was at night, but not the lovely one with separate compartments for sleeping overnight. I know you have many more fine and fascinating places up your sleeve and always keen to see what you will surprise us with . Do you ever go inside some of the manor houses that are open to the public ~ particularly ones that date back to medieval days and up to Jacobean period~ I tend to gravitate more to the more ancient ones and less to the grand stately homes ~ Just wondered if you enjoyed viewing the interior of these old manor houses as much as seeing churches ect. Looking forward to “pulpit Sunday’ tomorrow! Love chatting with you!

    1. Hello Valkrye, thank you for your lovely reply. Yes I do love to visit old manor houses and I have visited many in the past but you are not normally allowed to take photos. Luckily the National Trust now allows photos to be taken, so I am now trying to re-visit places, but the area we live in now is more stately home size, but there are a few. I actually like moated houses, there are lots in Norfolk, but many are private, but now again when they have the village open garden days, you get to see them, well the gardens at least. I’m glad you like the steam train, we love going on steam trains and we try to do a special one each year, they are trips that take all day and are wonderful as you have all you meals on board……we treat ourselves and go 1st class. I would love to on on the Orient Express, but that would mean winning the lottery, we thought about it last year, but then thought again 🙂 Well I better get some sleep now, have a heavy day at work tomorrow, speak again soon 🙂

  4. Lynn, another site you might to visit is Baconsthorpe Castle also in Norfolk. If you google it, you’ll find it quite easily. Not only is some of the architecture interesting, there is a mere that was added into the moat during the 16th Century (from memory). On a sunny day, it is well worth a visit.

    1. Hi Jamie, you are quite correct about Baconsthorpe Castle, we have been a few times, I just haven’t posted about it yet, like a couple of hundred other places, but I will in time 🙂

      1. Good. It will be interesting to see what you think of Baconsthorpe. I thought it would be particularly nice for a warm sunny day like we are having at the moment.

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