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"ORFORD, a parish, post and seaport town, having separate jurisdiction, but locally in the hundred of Plomesgate, county Suffolk, 5 miles S.W. of Aldborough, 12 E. of Woodbridge, and 20 E. by N. of Ipswich. The parish, which was anciently called Sudborn-cum-Capella de Orford, is situated on the river Ore, which joins the sea in Hollesley Bay, below Butley Creek. It contains, besides the town of its own name, the lordship of Gedgrave, Havergate Island, and Raydon. Orford sent three ships to the siege of Calais in the reign of Edward III. It was formerly a market town and representative borough, with an extensive trade prior to its harbour being choked by the shifting sands. The river is now navigable only up to Aldborough quay, but a considerable trade is done in coal and corn. There is also an extensive oyster fishery, carried on under license from the corporation.

The town, which was incorporated prior to the reign of Richard III., is governed, under a charter of James I., by a mayor, recorder, 8 portmen, 12 burgesses, chamberlain, coroner, harbourmaster, and other officers. There are two lighthouses, termed High and Low Lights, or more frequently the "Orford Ness Lights," within a mile of each other, and about 1½ E. of the town, which has a townhall, but is ill-built, and has recently been reduced to a state of comparative insignificance. The elective franchise was granted in the 23rd of Edward I., but the exercise of it was discontinued till the reign of Henry VI., from which period two members were regularly returned to parliament until the passing of the Reform Act, when the borough was disfranchised. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £317, and the glebe comprises 10½ acres. The living is a curacy annexed to the rectory* of Sudborne, in the diocese of Norwich. The church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, is an ancient structure, with a ruined chancel and tower, the latter having fallen down in 1830. The interior of the church contains an old font, nine brasses bearing dates prior to 1500, and a monument to the Rev. Francis Mason, a former rector, and author of "Vindiciæ Ecolesiæ Anglicanæ" There were formerly two chapels dedicated to SS. John the Baptist and Leonard. The Methodists have a place of worship. On an eminence at the W. end of the town are the ruins of Orford Castle, supposed to have been built very soon after the Conquest. It consists of an eighteen sided keep 54 feet in diameter and 12 thick, flanked by three square embattled towers 90 feet in height, which serve as a sea mark. There are also traces of a gateway tower, and of an outer wall and double fosse. Orford gives title of earl to the Walpole family. Herbert de Losinga, the first bishop of Norwich, is said to have been born here. A hospital, dedicated to St. Leonard, was founded here in the reign of Edward II., and continued to flourish till 1589, and a priory of Augustine Canons was established about the 23rd of Edward I. A fair is held on the 24th June."

"RAYDON, a hamlet in the parish of Orford, hundred of Plomesgate, county Suffolk, 2 miles from Orford, and 18 N.E. of Ipswich, on the river Ore near Orford Haven."

Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)


Church History

Descriptions and photographs of churches in the parish may be found in Simon Knott's Suffolk Churches.

Description and Travel

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  • A description of Orford transcribed from Stephen Whatley's "Gazetteer of England" (1750) by Mel Lockie © 2011.
" ORFORD, (Suffolk) 73 cm. 88 mm. from London, where the r. Ore, after having joined the Ald, falls into the sea, had a harbour, till the sea withdrew from it, and was once a large populous T. with a castle; of which, and of a nunnery near the quay, that was formerly the seat of Sir Michael Stanhope, there are still some ruins. The towers of the Castle and its Ch. are a sea-mark for colliers, coasters, and ships that come from Holland. There is a light-house at Orford-Nesse, which is also of great use to seamen, and is a shelter for them, when a N. E.. wind blows hard upon the shore. The T. was incorporated by Hen. III. has a mayor, 18 portmen, 12 chief burgesses, a recorder (who is Sir Phil. Lloyd, Kt. K's.- council) a T.-clerk, and 2 serjeants at mace. It first gave title of E. to admiral Russel, and then to the late Sir Rob. Walpole, as it does now to his eldest son, of the same name, auditor of the exchequer, who was a peer even before his father. Its Mt. is M. Fairs June 24 and Aug. 24. Though it sent members to Pt. in the 26th of Edw. I. yet it had no more elections, till the R. of Edw. IV. The manor did bel. to the Lds. Willoughby of Eresby; from whom, for want of male issue, it passed to the Bertues. "

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Historical Geography

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