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TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £6
Children 5-17 Years: £4
Families (2 adults, up to 3 Children): £18
Senior (65+): £5

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Visiting Castle Rising Castle

Castle Rising Castle is a ruinous mediaeval palace fortress in Norfolk, England. It’s best known as the regal residence of Queen Isabella, though rumours claim it was her place of imprisonment. The castle boasts numerous well-preserved chambers. Visitors can walk the grounds and explore the keep by purchasing a ticket from English Heritage.

Parking

Castle Rising offers guest parking in the on-site car park approximately 50 metres (164 feet) from the entrance to the site off of Lodge Lane. Please pay close attention when accessing the area, as there is no prominent signage pointing to the car park entrance.

The grassy ground of the car park is somewhat difficult to navigate, so it’s not ideal for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility. Please bear in mind there are no allocated disabled parking bays.

Pedestrians accessing the castle may use the Lynn Road entrance.

Price

Admission fees for Castle Rising Castle are fixed. Those carrying a valid English Heritage membership card and children under the age of five receive free entry to the site.

Below are the ticket prices for Castle Rising Castle, as of 2023:

Castle Rising Castle Ticket Prices

Ticket Type

Without Donation

Members

Free

Adult

£6.00

Child (5-17 Years)

£4.00

Student (with Valid ID)

£5.00

Family (2 Adults, Up to 2 Children)

£18.00

Senior (65+)

£5.00

 

When travelling with large groups, take advantage of the group discount. Groups of 11 or more visitors receive one free admission and a 15 percent discount on all additional tickets.

Opening

Hours of operation for Castle Rising Castle vary based on the season (and special events). 

The site opens later in the evening from mid-spring to mid-autumn and closes earlier throughout the winter months and early spring.

The exact hours of operation are as follows:

  • 1 April to 1 November: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily
  • 2 November to 31 March: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday
  • 24 December to 26 December: Closed

In October, the site closes at dusk if dusk occurs before the posted closing time.

Please note, some visitors have stated the castle entrance isn’t always staffed, even during opening hours. If you run into this problem during your visit, please drop your admission fee in the slot of the ticket office door.

Location and Access

Castle Rising’s physical address is:

Castle Rising

Kings Lynn

Norfolk

PE31 6AH

Visitors arriving by vehicle can access Castle Rising off the A149. The site is located approximately 6.4 metres (4 miles) northeast of King’s Lynn and 8 kilometres (5 miles) south of Sandringham Estate. The city of Norwich is about 80.5 kilometres (50 miles) southeast.

Please enter the following coordinates for satellite navigation:

  • Latitude: 52.792755
  • Longitude: 0.4681

The closest train station to Castle Rising is the King’s Lynn Railway Station, about 7.2 kilometres (4.5 miles) away.

Norfolk Green service route 11 offers bus access to Castle Rising.

Know Before You Go



  • There are no food facilities on site. Visitors will have to travel to the surrounding areas for food, drink, and shopping. King’s Lynn is nearby, and boasts numerous restaurants, shops, and lodging accommodations.

 

  • Picnics are permitted on castle grounds. The castle site includes plenty of spacious, open, grassy areas, ideal for picnics. Most of the outdoor grounds are accessible to wheelchair users.


  • Accessible toilets are available in the car park. The toilets are regularly cleaned and maintained. Visitors can find them connected to the car park.

 

  • Well-behaved dogs and assistance dogs are welcome. Dogs must be leashed when moving throughout the castle and grounds. Please clean up after your pet.


  • Guests may purchase items at the gift shop. The ticket area includes a small gift shop where guests can buy souvenirs and themed-gifts. The gift shop is wheelchair accessible.


  • The Keep is NOT wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, there are multiple stairs visitors must use to access the Keep. As such, it is not accessible to those using wheelchairs, scooters, or those with limited mobility.


  • Information boards are dotted throughout the site. By reading these boards as you wander the castle site, you can learn more about the castle’s long history.


  • Expect to spend one to two hours exploring Castle Rising Castle. Despite being in ruins, the castle is very well-preserved and there is much to see. Visitors can access various parts of the Keep’s interior, including a spiral staircase and various chambers. Additionally, you’ll want to spend some time walking along the ramparts and exploring the grassy baileys.


  • On-site hazards may make the site inaccessible to some visitors. Because Castle Rising Castle is a ruinous, historic site, visitors should expect some uneven ground, old and narrow steps, steep slopes, and other hazards. After a rain or snow, be mindful of slippery surfaces, including the grass.



Castle Rising Castle Events

Numerous family-friendly events have occurred at Castle Rising Castle.

Past events have included live reenactments from various time periods. During these events, visitors can explore the site while interacting with actors dressed in era-themed garb participating in era-themed activities.

The “Soldiers Through The Ages” event includes live arena demonstrations and various other forms of entertainment involving mediaeval weapons, including swords and cannons.

For information on current and upcoming events, see the Castle Rising website’s Events page.

Places To Stay Nearby

Premier Inn King’s Lynn

11.3 km (7 mi) southwest

Premier Inn in King’s Lynn offers guests several amenities at a reasonable cost. Guests enjoy free on-site parking, free WiFi access, an on-site restaurant (Brewers Fayre) serving tasty meals in the morning and evening. Rooms include double, family, twin, and accessible units, each offering tea and coffee facilities and a vanity area. This affordable lodging accommodation is only a 10-minute drive from Castle Rising via Queen Elizabeth Way (A149).

Book

Travelodge King’s Lynn

10.5 km (6.5 mi) southwest

The Travelodge King’s Lynn hotel is a budget-friendly accommodation offering free on-site parking, WiFi (at an additional charge), and a convenient location. It’s a stone’s throw from nearby restaurants, pubs, and shopping, and only an 11-minute drive from Castle Rising Castle. Rooms include standard, family, and accessible units.

Book

Ffolkes Arms Hotel

1.3 km (0.8 mi) west

Ffolkes Arms Hotel is a 300-year-old lodging facility with a wide array of luxurious amenities, including Egyptian cotton sheets and comfortable, in-room seating. Guests enjoy free on-site parking, complimentary WiFi, a public game room, and a playground. The on-site restaurant serves different types of fare, including a full English/Irish breakfast.

Book

History of Castle Rising Castle 

Castle Rising Castle is a mediaeval palace fort built around 1138 by William d’Aubigny II. It served as a luxury home and hunting lodge for many occupants over the centuries, including Queen Isabella from 1330-1358. The castle would fall to ruin during the late 1400s and undergo restoration work in the 1800s.

Time Line


- 1100 (Norman Chapel)

Prior to the construction of Castle Rising Castle, a Norman chapel stood on the site. Later, the chapel was surrounded by the newly-created castle defences.

- 1138 (Castle Construction)

William d’Aubigny II, a nobleman, married King Henry I’s widow. As a result of this marriage, he became Earl of Arundel and inherited much wealth. It is with his riches that he built Castle Rising Castle for his wife.

- 1145 (Castle Mint Established)

William would start a mint at Castle Rising Castle with the permission of the Crown. However, shortly after its establishment, King Henry began to crack down on regional mints after the Anarchy, and the site was permanently closed.

- 1170s (Renovation and Additional Construction)

After the rebellion against King Henry II, Castle Rising Castle underwent numerous renovations. The earthworks were raised and the Western Bailey was filled in to act as a platform.

- 1220-1230 (Chapel Falls Out of Use)

The castle passed through the hands of William d’Albini II’s descendants, ultimately landing in the hands of William V’s brother, Hugh. Around the same time, the chapel inside the castle had fallen out of use and was repurposed.

- 1243 (Baron Roger de Montalt)

After Hugh died without heirs, the castle passed to Roger de Montalt, a prominent man from a baronial family. Later, the castle would pass to his brother, Robert. Robert would reside in the castle with his wife, Emma.

- 1327-1329 (The Crown)

Robert owned the castle for some time, but upon his passing (also without heirs), the castle was sold to the Crown. During this period, the Keep was raised, a new roof was erected, and a kitchen was constructed on the site. When Robert died in 1329, his wife, Emma, sold her rights to the castle to Queen Isabella.

- 1330-1358 (Queen Isabella’s Residence)

Though numerous stories claim Isabella’s son imprisoned her after learning of her role in his father’s murder plot, that’s not the full truth. In fact, Isabella enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle at Castle Rising Castle and would stay until her death. She ordered the construction of numerous buildings, including a new chapel and two ranges.

- 1360s (The Black Prince)

Upon Queen Isabella’s passing, her successor was Edward, The Black Prince. He would complete numerous repairs on the castle, including work on one of the towers.

- 1378 (Richard Trades Castle Rising Castle)

King Richard II traded Castle Rising Castle for the Château de Brest (from John, Duke of Brittany). Later, King Richard II was overthrown and his grants for Castle Rising Castle were deemed invalid.

- 1380s (Castle Prepared for Military Action)

Castle Rising Castle may have been equipped with cannons during the rising threat of a French invasion.

- Early 1400s (New Additions)

The kitchens on the site were demolished and a new range was erected.

- 1461 (Hunting Facility)

Despite the deterioration of many of the castle’s facilities, it was still used as a hunting facility.

- 1482-1570s (Dereliction)

From 1482 and beyond, the castle continued to decline in use and began to degrade. The Keep was declared “rotten” around 1504, and various repairs were recommended. Despite new additions during this time, problems continued. By 1543, the structure was in total ruin. The Keep had a collapsed roof and the Great Hall and Great Chamber floors had fallen in. Unfortunately, the castle continued to deteriorate.

- 17th Century (Additional Decay)

For use in other buildings, the floor of the Keep was dug up. The apartments in the forebuilding that served as an accommodation were no longer in use, and the castle began to decay further.

- 1822 (Restoration Work)

Restoration work began, including repairing stonework within the Keep. During the work, the Norman chapel remains were discovered and unearthed.

- 1958 (Ministry of Works)

The Ministry of Works took over the castle. 

- 1960s-1980s (Conservation Work)

Conservation work began, including reinforcing the stonework of the Keep and various excavations were carried out until 1987, when the ticket office was erected on the site.

- 1983-Present (English Heritage)

English Heritage began managing the site. It is now operated as a tourist attraction.

Castle Rising Castle Occupants

 

  • 1138: William d’Aubigny II and his wife stayed at the castle, but may have preferred their estates around Arundel. The castle would pass to his descendants in succession (William d’Albini III, William IV, William V).
  • 1224: Hugh, William V’s brother, inherited the castle after William V’s death.
  • 1243: Roger de Montalt took over after Hugh died without heirs.
  • 1327: Robert de Montalt and his wife, Emma, occupied the castle for some time before selling their rights.
  • 1330: Queen Isabella of France enjoyed the castle as her primary residence for some time, and carried out numerous construction projects.
  • 1360s: Edward, The Black Prince, inherited Castle Rising Castle and carried out numerous repairs. The castle would fall into disrepair nearly 30 years later.
  • 1500s: During Henry VIII’s reign, the castle was granted to the Dukes of Norfolk. It would later be used for material for other buildings, and squatters once made their way into the castle by digging holes through the walls.
  • 1544: The Howard family inherited the castle and still own it today.



Castle Rising Castle Architecture

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https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Castle-Rising-Site-Plan-Courtesy-of-English-Heritage_fig50_279496087 

General Layout

Castle Rising Castle is a palace fortress that sits on a thoughtfully-designed landscape. This landscape includes tall defensive earthworks and ditches surrounding its eastern, western, and inner baileys. The Eastern Bailey contains the Gatehouse and protects the entrance to the Inner Bailey, which holds the mediaeval Keep. The Western Bailey is at the rear of the castle and has since been raised to form a platform.

Original Layout

Visitors approaching the castle during its heyday would enter the Eastern Bailey before crossing a stone bridge leading to the Gatehouse. The Gatehouse led to the Inner Bailey, where guests would access the Keep’s waiting area before meeting with the Castle Lord.

Baileys

Three separate baileys make up the outer lands of Castle Rising Castle. The Eastern and Western Baileys are roughly the same size, though they were considerably smaller when the castle was initially built.

The Eastern Bailey served as an extra level of defence, providing protection for the Inner Bailey entrance. The Western Bailey was once connected to the castle, though it is no longer adjoined.

The Inner Bailey is oval in shape, and about 24 metres (79 feet) across. It is surrounded by massive earthworks rising to 18 metres (59 feet), though they were originally closer to 9 metres (29.5 feet) before being raised.

Within the Inner Bailey are the remnants of an old Norman chapel. The chapel was made with grey sandstone, and included a nave, bell tower, and chancel apse.

In mediaeval times, the castle boasted three towers. Two of those towers stood upon the surrounding banks. It is unknown where the third tower would have stood.

Gatehouse

The bridge in the eastern bailey leading to the gatehouse still includes some of the original masonry and stonework, though it has been reconstructed numerous times over the centuries.

Upon its construction, the Gatehouse was significantly larger and longer than it is today. It also originally included a portcullis and barbican.

Keep

The Keep was created in a hall-keep design, and resembles that of the keep in Norwich. It was constructed using brown carrstone and ashlar, and measures approximately 24 metres (79 feet) by 21 metres (69 feet). Wood was placed within the stone masonry to provide further strength for its tall, 15 metre (49 feet) walls. 

On the outside of the Keep were four turrets formed by corner buttresses. Visitors can still see the elaborate Romanesque designs on the exterior of the Keep.

The Keep maintained its structural integrity through the use of division of the internal wall. Pillars inside the basement added support for the Great Hall. On the southern end of the Keep was the Great Chamber, which boasted a 12th-century fireplace and large windows. A chapel also sat at the end of the Great Chamber. On the second floor of the Keep was a small chamber above the Chapel.

Guests accessing the site to visit the Castle Lord would pass through the Keep’s forebuilding. The importance of the Castle Lord would be evidenced by the elaborate carvings and ornamental decorative features inside.

After crossing through the forebuilding, guests would climb 34 stairs, pass through three intricate arched pathways, and land in a receiving area. From here, they would be escorted into the Great Hall to meet the Castle Lord.

The Great Hall offered views of the village below and included a fireplace. The Great Chamber, however, overlooked the deer park at the west of the castle.

Modern Layout

Although Castle Rising Castle is relatively well-preserved, there are some areas that have undergone significant changes. For example, the Keep no longer has its roof, and the original entrance no longer stands.

Today, visitors access the Keep using a doorway at the bottom corner of the castle. 

In the Inner Bailey are the foundational remains of the Norman chapel that predates the castle. Nearby, you can see the remains of the range built for Queen Isabella.

Today, the western bailey is no longer connected to the castle. In the past, it was raised to serve as a platform.

Despite the castle’s ruinous state and numerous changes, visitors can still see various rooms, corridors, walkways, and stairs. The masonry and elaborate details of the structure are evidence of the excellent craftsmanship at the time.

Images of Castle Rising Castle

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Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

What Can I See During Visit to Castle Rising Castle?



  • Climb the Gatehouse. After crossing the stone bridge into the Gatehouse, make sure to climb to the top to see the massive earthworks from a better vantage point. From here, it’s also easier to see and admire the elaborate decorations on the exterior of the Keep.

 

  • Explore the Great Hall. Inside the Keep, visitors can appreciate the area where the Castle Lord once met with guests of the fort. In the Great Hall, he would receive his guests, likely while sitting in a throne (likely situated in a small alcove in the wall that visitors can still see today).

 

  • Check out the remains of the Norman chapel. At the northern end of the Inner Bailey, view the remains of an old Norman church. The chapel was built around the 11th century, but it wasn’t discovered until the 19th century. It is the earliest structure erected on the site.

 

  • Find your way through the various corridors and chambers. There are so many areas to explore at Castle Rising Castle. Explore the Kitchen and see its tall chimney, or walk along the remains of Queen Isabella’s old apartments.



Castle Rising Castle Facts

  1. Queen Isabella wasn’t imprisoned here, contrary to popular belief. Stories say that Queen Isabella’s son banished her to Castle Rising Castle after discovering her role in the murder plot of his father. However, this is not true. Queen Isabella never went to trial and actually lived in luxury at the site, though her co-conspirator was tried and hanged.
  2. People claim Queen Isabella haunts Castle Rising Castle. Isabella is the most famous occupant of Castle Rising Castle, as she played a direct role in the murder plot of her husband. She lived at the castle until her death, but it’s said that as she aged, she suffered from dementia, becoming violent with relatives and castle staff. It’s said that her lost and confused spirit still wanders, laughing maniacally throughout the grounds.
  3. The castle was infested with rabbits in 1570. Near the deer park (Rising Chase) was a large rabbit warren that would later play a role in the castle’s ruin. As the castle was left all-but-abandoned, rabbits began to take over the site, severely damaging the earthworks and buildings. Over the centuries, the buildings were demolished, leaving only the Keep that stands today.

Castle Rising Castle Q&A

Who Owns Castle Rising Castle?

Today, Castle Rising Castle is owned by Baron Howard of Rising. However, the castle remains in the care of English Heritage, though Baron Howard has managed the site since 1998.

What Type of Castle is Castle Rising?

Castle Rising Castle is a mediaeval fort palace with a large stone keep. Throughout the centuries, historians have debated over the castle’s potential military strength, with some believing it would have served as a fine defence, and others claiming it was too vulnerable due to various features, including large windows.

Is Castle Rising Worth a Visit?

Castle Rising Castle is worth a visit if you like historical sites. Visitors can walk among various well-preserved rooms, including the Great Hall, Great Chamber, and various other areas and see the remains of an old Norman chapel that predates the castle itself.

Who Was Imprisoned at Castle Rising?

Many believe that Queen Isabella was imprisoned at Castle Rising Castle. However, she actually lived quite a lavish, luxurious lifestyle at the castle until her death. She even commissioned the building of two ranges for her own use.

Location of Castle Rising Castle

Castle Rising is a small village in Norfolk containing under 300 inhabitants, as of 2023. The village sits only 8 kilometres (5 miles) from King’s Lynn and 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Norwich.

Castle Rising Castle is the most popular attraction in the town, though the village also has a small parish church (St. Lawrence’s Church). This church was erected after the Norman chapel was encircled by the castle earthworks during mediaeval times.

Other Places To Visit Near Castle Rising Castle

Castle Acre

Castle Acre is more than just a tiny village. See the remains of an old castle, two gatehouses, and a priory dating to 1090. The priory itself is a site to see, and includes a replica herb garden. Visitors can also explore the site exhibit, artefacts, and listen to an audio tour.

Creake Abbey

The site of this small church may look like your ordinary ruinous site, but it has quite a tragic history. It was the subject of a catastrophic fire, and not long after, a plague, which led to the site’s abandonment. Today, visitors can walk among the site, see the remains of the nave, and imagine what it might have been like to worship here.

Binham Priory

Binham Priory was a monastery founded in 1091. Today, it remains one of the best-preserved and most complete ruins in England. Visitors can walk among the massive site, see its old paintings (altered over the years) and learn more about its scandalous history.

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