The Norfolk village of Castle Acre is situated on the River Nar, just north of Swaffham and east of Kings Lynn. Although small in the size and population, the village is rich in history as its home to one of the biggest and best preserved monastic sites in the country. The ruins of a 12th –century Norman Castle and Priory can be found to the east and west of the village.
Castle Acre Castle
The castle was founded shortly after the 1066 Norman Conquest by William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey. It was originally built as a stone country house for the Earl but was later converted into a strong keep, with further stone walls and impressive ditched earthwork defences. The castle was of motte-and-bailey construction. The summit of the motte was the residence for the owner, whilst the Bailey below contained accommodation, shops, and workshops.
Castle Acre Priory
It’s believed that the Priory was founded in 1089 also by William de Warenne and was home to the first Cluniac order of monks to England until 1537 when Henry VIII disbanded all monastic houses. The ruins of the priory span seven centuries and include a west end church gable, prior’s lodging, and a 15th- century gatehouse and porch. Many of the buildings round the cloister still stand today. There is also a recreated herb garden, which was used by the monks to grow herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Castle Acre Village
The medieval village of Castle Acres is a wonderful example of what Norfolk has to offer. Walk through the impressive Bailey-gate and you will find pretty streets filled with beautiful flint houses. The village contains a lovely pub and a number of tea rooms which are always thriving with locals and those exploring Norfolk, as well as a number of bed and breakfasts. Altogether, Castle Acre is a great Norfolk village with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. There’s plenty to do within the village, so grab the family and head down to Castle Acre for a great day out in Norfolk.
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