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Orford, Suffolk

Historical Description

Orford, a small town and a parish in Suffolk. The town stands on the river Ore or Orford Haven, 5 miles above the mouth of the river, 8 from Wickham Market station on the East Suffolk branch.of the G.E.R., and 20 E by N of Ipswich. It took its name from a ford on the river Ore; was the birthplace of Bishop Herbert de Losinga, who removed the see of Thetford to Norwich and founded Norwich Cathedral; has remains of a castle built in 1165; had an Augustinian friary, two or more chapels, and an hospital or a chantry, founded in the time of Edward I., some traces of which are still visible; figured early as a port of considerable importance; sent three ships, with 62 men, to the siege of Calais in 1359; was made a borough in the time of Henry III.; sent two members to Parliament, but was disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832; gave the title of Earl in 1697 to Admiral E. Russell, and in 1742 to Sir Robert Walpole. It was formerly governed by a mayor, 8 portmen, and 12 burgesses, but the corporation ceased to exist in 1886. The town has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Wickham Market, a church, and a Primitive Methodist chapel. The river Ore or Orford Haven is simply the lower reach of the river Aide, suddenly deflecting from the vicinity of the sea about a mile S of Aldborough, and running about ten miles somewhat parallel to the coast, and past Orford to Hollesley Bay at Butley Creek, and was long a good harbour, but became choked by shifting shingles. A gently curved promontory, called Orfordness, projects from the river at Orford to the sea; flanks the N extremity of Hollesley Bay, and has a lighthouse containing two separate lights on the same tower-one an intermittent white, red, and green light, which can be seen at a distance of 15 miles; the other a fixed white light seen at 6 miles' distance. There is also a floating light, 4½ miles to the SE. The Castle of Orford stood on an eminence, commanding a fine view; belonged to Hubert de Burgh, and passed, through the Despencers, the De Valoines, the Uffords, the Willoughbys, and others, to the Marquis of Hertford; was taken in 1217 by Louis the Dauphin, and survives in sufficient remains to serve as a sea-mark. These remains comprise a polygonal keep of 18 sides, inscribed in a circle of 54 feet in diameter, and rising to the height of 90 feet, together with three square embattled towers on the W, the NE, and the SE sides, each projecting 12 feet with a breadth of 22 feet, and they have, in the interior, both round and pointed arches. The church, an ancient building of stone in the Early English style, comprises a very fine Norman chancel, now in ruins, with massive pillars 12 feet high; a Decorated English nave, with a clerestory and qnatrefoiled lights, and a Later English porch with a niche and fine cross; had a tower, a portion of which fell in 1830; and contains a richly carved octagonal font, and six brasses dated 1500,1580,1591, and 1605. F. Mason, the champion of English orders, and author of " Vindicial Ecclesise Anglicanse," was buried here in 1621; and the father of Crabbe, the poet, kept the parish school in the church porch. A weekly market was formerly held on Monday, but has been discontinued. Some trade is done in corn and coal, large quantities of oysters are taken in the river, and there is a coastguard station. A recreation ground of about 5 acres was presented to the parish by the late Sir Richard Wallace, Bart. The parish comprises 2702 acres; population of the civil parish, 987; of the ecclesiastical, with Sudbourne, 1622. There is a parish council consisting of eleven members. The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to the rectory of Sudbourne, in the diocese of Norwich; joint net value, £369 with residence. The church has become very dilapidated, and was repaired in 1895. There is also a mission hall.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySuffolk 
Ecclesiastical parishOrford St. Bartholomew 
Poor Law unionPlomesgate 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Orford from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Suffolk is available to browse.


Online maps of Orford are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Suffolk papers online:

DistrictSuffolk Coastal
Postal districtIP12
Post TownWoodbridge