This town and castle still continues the estate of the Marquess of Hertford, hut
has ceased to send representatives to Parliament since 1832; by an act to amend
the representation of the people in Eng-land and Wales, passed in that year,
whereby this borough became disfranchised.
The Austin friars appear to have settled here about 1294, for in that year,
Robert de Hewell gave them the ground whereupon to erect their convent; and Mr.
Taylor names the. following benefactors: in 1313, John de Engayne; Walter de
Hewell, in 1336; Richard Valence, and others, in 1350. Robert Lord was the
grantee, in 1544.
All that is known of St. Leonard's Hospital is, that in the time of King Edward
II., A.D. 1320, such an institution existed here as an hospital and chapel for a
master and brethren, and that it continued till after the year 1586.
It is said to have stood near the park, and the lands belonging to it are
thought to be enclosed within the park, now the property of the Marquess of
Hertford, from whence a yearly payment of £30,
as a rent charge, is made to this town. (See charities.)
Orford Castle stands a small distance west of the town. Neither the builder, nor
the time of its construction, are positively ascertained; but that it is of
Norman origin seems evident, from its being coined, and in some places cased,
with Caen stone.
The spot whereon the castle stands was, it is said, formerly the centre of the
town. This tradition has the appearance of being founded on truth, from the
great quantity of old bricks, stones, and other remains of buildings, constantly
turned up by the plough in the fields, west and south of that edifice: besides
several of them retain the name of street, annexed to their denomination of
field, such as West- street-field, and the like, all alluding to streets
formerly there situated; and it is further confirmed by the charter of the
corporation, and other authentic records. Certainly Orford was once a large and
considerable trading town, till the sea, throwing up a dangerous bar at the
harbor's mouth, it fell to decay. It is a corporation and manor, although no
parish, its church being only a chapel of ease to Sudborne. The style of the
manor court is, "Sudborne cum capella de Orford"
Of the castle there remains at present only the keep; its shape, a polygon of
eighteen sides, described within a circle, whose radius is twenty-seven feet.
This polygon is flanked by three square towers, placed at equal distances on the
west, north-east, and south-east sides; each tower measuring in front nearly
twenty-two, and projecting from the main building, twelve feet. They are
embattled, and overlook the polygon, whose height is ninety feet, and the
thickness of the walls, at bottom, twenty: at the lower part they are solid, but
above are interspersed with galleries and small apartments.1
In the year 1204, Hugh Bigod and John Fitz Robert were appointed joint governors
of this and Norwich Castle; and, upon their removal, in 1215, the command of
both were given to Hubert de Burgh. In the 45th of King Henry III., the office
of Governor of this Castle was conferred on Philip Marmion; and three years
afterwards, when the Barons had taken that King prisoner, at the battle of
Lewes, they intrusted it to Hugh le Despencer.
Sir William Dugdale says, that the descendants of Peter de Valoins, who came
over with the Conqueror, made the Castle of Orford the capital seat of their
Barony; which probably must have been in the time of Edward II.; for the 4th of
Edward III., Robert de Ufford, who married Cecilia, the daughter and co-heir of
Robert de Voloins, had a grant for life, of this town and castle. William de
Ufford died seized of it, the 5th of Richard II., and it was port of the dowry
of Isabel his wife. Upon her death, the 4th of Henry V., Robert, Lord Willoughby
de Eresby, whose ancestor married Cecilia, daughter of Robert de Ufford, had
livery of the town and castle. William, Lord Willoughby, died seized of the
lordship of Orford, the 18th of King Henry VIII., and assigned it to his wife
for life. It probably came afterwards, with the estate at Sudbourne, to Sir
Michael Stanhope; and descended, as that did, to the Right Hon. Pryce Devereux,
Lord Viscount Hereford, of whose executors it was purchased, in 1754, by the
Right Hon. the Earl of Hereford.
CHARITIES. The town estate consists of a workhouse, with a small garden,
used for the reception and habitation of paupers, with a piece of ground near
the same, let at £3 a year; also another
piece of ground, near the assembly room, let on a building lease, at the yearly
rent of 40s. A piece, of marsh land, containing 6A. 1R. 20p., adjoining Orford
Quay, let at a yearly rent of £21 10s.; also
a rent charge, of the yearly sum of £30,
paid by the Marquess of Hertford, in respect (as supposed) of land in his
possession. The income derived from these sources is received by the overseers
of the poor, and applied by them, with the funds raised by rate, for the general
relief of the poor of the parish. There is also a payment for poor persons of
Orford, under Sir Michael Stanhope's charity, of £10
a year, which, subject to a deduction for land-tax, is distributed among them.
A list of those burgesses who represented Orford in Parliament, from 1768 to
1832, is annexed:
|King s Reign
||Members for Orford
||Francis Viscount Beauchamp, Edw. Coleman. Vise. Beauchamp. Hon.
R. Seymour Conway
||Viscount Beauchamp, Hon. Geo. Geo. Conway
||The same. Hon. Wm. Seymour Conway, Lord Robert Seymour, Hon.
||Lord H. Seymour, Francis, Earl of Yarmouth
||Imperial Parliament. The same
||Lord Robert Seymour, James Trail
||Lord Robert Seymour, Lord Henry Moore
||Right Hon. C. Arbuthnot, E. A. Macnaghten
||John Douglas, Edm. Alex. Macnaghten
||Edm. Alex. Macnaghten, Charles Ross
||Sir Henry Fred. Cooke, Quintin Dick
||The same. Spencer Horsey Kilderbee
ARMS. Town of Orford: a castle in an hulk, supported by two lions.
Another coat is: a tower enclosed in a triple trench.
1. A south view of the ruins of the chancel of Orford church,
i given in the "Gentleman's Magazine," for 1788, p. G6'7; and of the castle, in
Mr. H. Davy's 41 Architectural Antiquities of Suffolk," in two views.
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page