Borough of Orford measures and town criers bell

Celtic Treasures: the Art of the Iron Age

Our permanent collection is curently replaced by an exhibition of ancient Celtic metalwork from the Barrow Collection. The exhibition comprises selected pieces of fine Celtic metalwork including torcs, brooches, bracelets and metal horse and cart fittings.

The Celtic Treasures exhibition will run until Friday, 15th March 2024. It is open whenever Orford Castle is open; click here for opening times.

Our permanent collection will return on Saturday, 23rd March.

Our permanent collection

At the heart of the collection are the Regalia of the former borough of Orford dating from 1579 to the nineteenth century. Belonging to the New Orford Town Trust, the Regalia includes maces, oar-maces (insignia of the water bailiffs), robes, staves, punchbowls and official badges. Some of these items are on display in the castle.

In the Castle

Orford Museum CIO has six display cases in Orford Castle: “The Borough”; “River, Land and Sea”; “Bronze Age”; “Prehistory to 1500”;  “The Castle”. Case six is being re-designed to contain other items of interest from the Museum collection on a changing basis.

Objects on display include the Town Crier’s Bell used by 90-year-old Sam Smy, the oldest town crier in England until shortly before his death in 1936; a selection of Standard Weights and Measures used by the Borough of Orford. c.1823-1826; a complete two-piece silver eyelet of post medieval date found at Butley and replica Gold Torc of the Early Bronze age found at Boyton in 1835.

The Bronze Age story display shows the stunning Butley Hoard of axe heads and a replica of the Boyton gold torc on loan from Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.

The Museum’s displays are supplemented by six graphics panels featuring maps, charters, pictures and photographs illustrating fascinating aspects of the Orford story from earliest times until the present day.

The Museum also displays the three-hundred-year-old Orford Town stocks. These were housed for many years in Orford Church but were removed during re-decoration of the Church and stored in Orford Town Hall. Subsequently, after expert restoration by a local craftsman, they were given a permanent home in the Castle.

Collection highlights

(Photography by Ralph Cochrane)

Our archive

The Museum archive in Potkins Lane, Orford contains many items reflecting Orford’s history such as agricultural implements, fishing equipment and domestic items together with maps, photographs, posters, letters, diaries and documents of all kinds.

We are happy for members of the public to view these. The store is manned by the Curator on Thursdays and Fridays of each week from 10.00am until 4.00pm and an appointment should be made by either emailing info@orfordmuseum.org.uk or telephoning 01394 459477.

For further information about the history of the local area, please see The Butley Research Group website.