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Freston Tower © David Parker /


Every building has a story to tell, and Suffolk’s iconic landmarks are no different. We’ve handpicked a few of the legends, tales and mysteries that surround these buildings, some of which are true, some of which aren’t, but all of which are equally fascinating…
Orford Castle (c) Martin Pettitt

Is there any truth to the bizarre folk legend surrounding Orford Castle?
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt


 This Suffolk story has it that one day in the 12th century Orford’s fishermen drew in their nets to find they’d ensnared an unusual catch: a Wildman from the sea. They took him to Orford Castle where he was locked up in the castle’s dungeons for two months, before a cage of strong nets was constructed in the sea to hold him. During his imprisonment the Wildman never spoke and would only eat freshly caught fish. Once back in the sea he swam around his netted cage contently before diving under the water and appearing in the open sea on the outside of the cage. He waved goodbye to the onlookers on the beach before disappearing under the water. No-one ever saw him again.


On the banks of the River Orwell, just south of Ipswich, stands a six storey tower. There are various theories why this folly was built, but one of the most enduring is that it was constructed by Lord de Freston for his daughter Ellen. Each floor was dedicated to a different area of learning so she studied on a different floor every day of the week . Subjects covered included tapestry working, music, literature, and the top floor was for astronomy, complete with instruments for taking observations.
Blythburgh church (c) Simon JamesBlythburgh Church, otherwise known as The Cathedral of the Marshes
Photo (c) Simon James


Black Shuck has made so many appearances across East Anglia that it’s probably easier to list where he hasn’t been seen, but the giant black dog is probably most strongly associated with this coastal church. During a storm in 1577 Black Shuck is said to have burst in through the doors of the church, run through the nave, killed a man and boy, and caused the church steeple to collapse through the roof. The dog left through the north door, leaving scorch marks which can still be seen to this day.
Leiston Abbey in Suffolk (c) DigventuresArchaeological digs at Leiston Abbey continue to unearth intriguing finds
Photo (c) Digventures


Local historian AJ Forrest tells the story of a holy thorn that flowers on Christmas Day near the ruins, and is said to be one of the many offshoots taken from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff. Also in the ruins, an extra chapter – perhaps the last – has been written in the story of Black Shuck, as a recent archaeological dig has uncovered the bones of a giant dog, probably dating back to the middle ages.


Ipswich’s most famous son, Thomas Wolsey, was once the second most powerful man in Tudor England behind Henry VIII. He spent much of his wealth on the construction of grand buildings, including York Palace in Whitehall and Hampton Court. He also established Cardinal College, Oxford (now Christ Church College). His plan was to add fifteen feeder colleges in diocese around England, the main one in Ipswich. Before he could complete his design he fell foul of Henry’s new love Anne Boleyn, and all that remains of his grand design is the Wolsey Gate on the east side of Ipswich.
The Willis Building in Ipswich (c) Wikimedia CommonsNorman Foster designed a garden to cover the roof of the Willis Building in Ipswich
Photo (c) Wikimedia Commons


Ipswich is also home to a modern architectural wonder: the Willis Building. Designed by Norman Foster in ‘high tech’ architectural style and constructed between 1970 and 1975, in 1991 it became the youngest building in Britain to be given Grade I Listed building status.


If you have a favourite Suffolk landmark, why not take a picture of it and send it to us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?