A 90-foot tower is all that remains of Caister Castle, which was originally commissioned in 1432 by Sir John Fastolf, who served bravely during the 100 Year War. However, from the tower, visitors can view the castle ruins and the surrounding area. Caister Castle is one of the earliest buildings of importance in England to employ bricks as the main construction material. It is a 15th Century moated castle some 5 km north of the town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.
The castle was built between 1432 and 1446. It suffered severe damage in 1568 when the Duke of Norfolk led a campaign to seize it. A new house was built nearby in about 1600. After that, the castle and its tower was left to ruin.
On a side note, Sir John Fastolf, along with Sir John Oldcastle, supposedly served as inspiration for Wlliam Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
Sir John intended the castle to be converted into a chantry, to pray for his soul and those of his family. After his passing, a detailed inventory was made of all his personal belongings.
The castle’s later claim to fame, so to speak comes from the legal battles between Sir John’s relations and those of John Paston, who served as Sir John’s lawyer. In his will, Sir John left Caister Castle to Paston. The bulk of Sir John’s actual money went to endow Magdalen College in Oxford. Paston was sued by the other factions of Sir John Fastolf’s family, mainly the Yelvertons and the Howeses. Eventually, the Yelverton and Howes factions sold their rights to the castle to the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk attempted to seize the castle in 1469.
We know what occurred during this siege because Margaret Paston and her two sons exchanged a series of letters documenting the siege. They provided graphic testimony to the violence practiced by Norfolk’s men. They are the first record of private correspondence to survive in Britain and are not housed in the British Museum.
“In the ‘Paston Letters’ is a unique collection of family correspondence covering the period of the Wars of the Roses, documenting the Paston family’s struggles to climb and maintain position on the English social ladder. Sir John died childless, and intestate; the castle was one of many properties in his estate. Some years later, the castle was ultimately returned to the Paston family’s ownership. In 1659 the Pastons sold it to William Crow (d.1688), an upholsterer and money lender of the City of London, whose inscribed mural monument survives in Holy Trinity Church, Caister-on-Sea, although the fine marble sculpted bust of Crowe was stolen from it in 2014. Later the Castle descended by marriage to the Bedingfield family. The Castle later suffered from neglect and the robbing of stonework and other fittings, including in about 1776 when Rev. David Collyer removed a newell staircase with 122 stone steps from the tower and incorporated in into his house at Wroxham. The inner moat was filled in between 1842 and 1893 and a lake was created by the widening of the south-eastern side. In 1952 the owner of the castle was Charles Hamblen-Thomas.” [“Caister Castle, West Caister – 1287573 | Historic England”.]