Orford Museum

Orford Museum is located in the upper hall of Orford Castle. It collects and displays historical material relating to the area roughly between the Butley River and the River Alde. It includes Orford, once a busy market and port, with Orford Ness, Gedgrave and Havergate Island, and the villages of Sudbourne, Chillesford, Boyton, Butley and Iken.

The display features part of the regalia of the former Borough and items relating to the archaeology and social history of Orford and the surrounding area. It includes a remarkable collection of Bronze Age artefacts found at Butley and on loan from the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, material from Orford Ness and from the lighthouse which will soon be washed into the sea.

museum doorInside shot 5Inside shot 1Inside shot 3Inside shot 2

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Images by kind permission of Michelle Belle; Munters Environmental Control Systems

Graphics panels feature maps, pictures and photographs illustrating the local story from earliest times to the present day including the real story of the extraordinary “merman” found off Orford and kept alive for years in the Castle in medieval times.

Admission to Orford Museum is free but English Heritage opening times and admission charges apply to get into Orford Castle. For up to date information please visit the English Heritage website: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/orford-castle Orford Museum is staffed entirely by volunteers. It has no income other than Friends’ subscriptions and the visitors' donation box. All contributions will be welcomed.

The museum has again been awarded the status of Full Accreditation, a scheme which sets nationally agreed standards for UK museums.To qualify, museums must meet standards on how they are managed, for the services they offer and on how they care for collections.

Disabled Access

Temporary exhibitions and a touch-screen kiosk featuring a virtual museum tour are located in St Bartholomew’s church (open daily) for visitors who find the steep steps up to the castle difficult. Wheelchair entry is via the north door of the church. Please note the exhibition may occasionally be removed because of concerts or other events.

For further information please visit our website www.orfordmuseum.org.uk where you will also find details of how to join The Friends of Orford Museum and see our Publications and News page.

Orford Museum news

If you missed Orford Museum's World War I exhibition in the Town Hall in September, or if you would like to be reminded of some of the highlights, do please visit St Bartholomew's church, where in the north aisle there are panels with a selection of text and pictures from the exhibition about the war and its impact on this area. The Museum is very grateful to the Rector and Churchwardens for allowing us to use the church for this temporary exhibition.

An important and moving feature of the Town Hall exhibition was the display of information about the local men who were killed in the First World War. Now each of the parish churches - Boyton, Butley, Chillesford, Iken, Orford and Sudbourne - has its own folder on display containing the pages relating to those named on the war memorials.

With Christmas fast approaching, don't forget Orford Museum's popular calendar featuring images from our large collection of photographs. The theme for the 2015 calendar is Means of Transport.

front cover

There is also a Christmas card with a wintry scene at Iken Cliff photographed last year, and a photograph from the archive showing the same scene about 70 years earlier.


The cards cost £3 for a pack of five and the calendar costs £6.50. They are on sale at the Orford Craft Shop and Friends Garage or can be ordered from Elizabeth Spinney on 01394 450622.

Why not give a copy of the Museum's special World War I edition of the Orford & District Local History Bulletin as a present this year? The articles in this 84-page bumper issue are full of remarkable facts and photographs. Copies can be bought for £10 each from Elizabeth Spinney or from Jane Allen (01394 450789).

Bulletin 23

World War I Exhibition

Charles Ward



Everyone who attends the annual Remembrance Sunday service will have been moved to hear the roll call of names of the men who died for their country, read out village by village, followed by the words 'We will remember them'.

This year, 100 years after the outbreak of World War I, Orford Museum displayed the results of the hard work by volunteer researcher Brian Boulton who has done his very best to discover as much as possible about every one of the 90 men who died in that war - soldiers, sailors and airmen - from Orford, Sudbourne, Chillesford, Iken, Boyton, Butley, Wantisden and Capel St Andrew. The World War I commemorative exhibition, held in Orford Town Hall on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September displayed at least one page devoted to each man.

Appeals for information, published in The Link parish magazine, did produce a few responses and, best of all, some photographs and medals, but even when facts have been hard to come by, there was something about each man's family and a picture of his grave or memorial. Attendance at the exhibition was reassuringly good

After the exhibition, special folders will be compiled and presented to each parish church, so that they can be displayed near the War Memorials, helping future generations to keep the memory of the men behind the names alive.

The exhibition also looked at many aspects of life in our villages during World War I including airfields on Orford Ness and at Butley, schoolchildren given a day off to gather conkers, wounded soldiers nursed in the Cottage Hospital and a Prisoner of War camp on Orford Ness hit by an influenza epidemic.

WWI continues...

We need your help with a Church Trail leaflet:

Following on from the exhibition, the research on The Fallen by Brian Boulton will be placed in a folder and can be found in the relevant church. In order to encourage visitors and local residents to read the information, we are proposing to produce a leaflet showing a walking trail between each of the following churches; Orford, Sudbourne, Iken, Chillesford and Butley. Boyton Church will also have a folder for its Fallen.

We would like to invite anyone who enjoys walking to join us in mapping the walk into manageable sections, (ie easy, medium and hard walks). We intend to do a trial walk of the trail on Saturday 6th December 2014, meeting at 9.30 at Orford Church. If you are interested in coming along, please contact Jennifer Hall (jen@jennifer-hall.com) or Maggi Livingstone (01394 450438) to book a place.

Orford Church Exhibition:

A smaller version of the WWI exhibition will be found in Bartholomew's Church at the beginning of November and in the Museum, in Orford Castle, some of the small artefacts are being placed in Case 6 for visitors to see.

Jennifer Hall (Curator) and Maggi Livingstone (Assistant Curator)
Orford Museum