Lonely Planet Writer

Ed Sheeran’s 'Castle on the Hill' has a new exhibition opening on its 900 year history

If you’ve been captured by the romance and beauty of the English castle featured in Ed Sheeran’s hit song, Castle on the Hill, you may be interested in learning that a new exhibition and workhouse block will open there to the public next week. Framlingham Castle in Surrey and its distinctive curtain wall played a starring role in the video, in which the lyrics describe how the singer often “watched the sun set over the castle on the hill.”

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage
Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage

As part of a major English Heritage conservation and re-presentation project, the new exhibition within the castle’s workhouse will tell the site’s fascinating 900-year-old story. Highlights include a walkthrough of the castle’s varied owners, from the famous Howard family to Mary Tudor, and interactive games where visitors can ‘Spin the King’ by challenging the monarch and spinning the wheel to see their fate.

There is also a ‘Who Eats What?’ challenge inspired by the indulgent duchess, Margaret Brotherton, where the aim is to place the plates of food next to the class who would have eaten them.

Over the centuries, Framlingham Castle has passed through the hands of nobles, lawyers and even queens. Once palace to Mary Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII, it was where she was proclaimed queen in 1553 and began her dramatic reign.

The castle was not only home to a princess, but to paupers too. The Red House of 1664 and the adjacent stone building of 1729 were built as workhouses; places where the neediest of the parish might carry out useful work in return for financial support, and later, accommodation. Institutions like the Framlingham workhouse later gave way to the notoriously harsh workhouses of the Victorian age.

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage
Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage

As part of the English Heritage project, the castle’s curtain wall has been carefully conserved for future generations to enjoy. The charity now plans to fundraise for a second phase of work, which would include the creation a lift to all floors and opening of the remaining wall walk to complete the 360˚ experience of navigating the whole circuit.

Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage
Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, England . Image: English Heritage

The new exhibition and workhouse block at opens on Friday 16 June. For more information, visit here.