Caister Castle is a 15th-century moated castle situated in the parish of West Caister, some 3 miles north of the town of Great Yarmouth. Fastolf was the recipient of one of the five licences to crenellate, authorising the building of a fortified dwelling, issued by Henry VI, during his long and interrupted reign. Sir John Fastolf intended that the castle should be converted into an enormous chantry, to pray for his soul and that of his nearest and dearest; but as a result of various disputes about his will, it devolved instead to the Paston family, while the bulk of Fastolf's money went to endow Magdalen College in Oxford. Consequently, the castle features extensively in the 'Paston Letters', 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.
John Paston was a close confidante and advisor to Sir John Fastolf. Sir John died childless, and intestate; the castle was one of many properties in his estate. John Paston, with some justification, claimed to be his heir; this put him in direct conflict with various major players of the time, such as the Duke of Norfolk and Sir William Yelverton. As a result the castle was besieged in August 1469 by the Duke - in pursuit of his own claim of ownership - and defended by John Paston junior and approximately 30 men. The two-month defence was unsuccessful, resulting in the death of one of the Paston's longest serving servants by a crossbow wound and the loss of the castle to the Duke. Some years later, the castle was ultimately returned to the Paston family's ownership.
The Castle is currently home to the largest private collection of motor vehicles in Britain which is housed in a purpose built museum and includes many fine and rare veteran, vintage, classic, sports and touring automobiles and motorcycles. Highlights include: An 1893 Panhard et Levassor (the first real car in the world); The very first Ford Fiesta off the production line; Jim Clark's Lotus; Peter Rachman's Cadillac; A Bentley Speed 6; Bugatti; Harley Davidson and many more... The collection is complemented by a display of bicycles, horse-drawn vehicles, pedal cars and other related items.
The 90 foot tower remains intact and visitors can climb to the top for a magnificent view of the castle ruins and the surrounding area. The castle is of historical interest both because it is one of earliest buildings in England of importance to be built of brick and because of its connection with Fastolf and later the Paston family. The museum is housed in a purpose built building and is wheelchair accessible. There are toilet facilities for the disabled. The castle, chiefly comprising the tower, is impressive to view but the staircase is steep and not recommended for the less mobile. Assistance dogs are welcome. Admission includes the castle, museum and park, which contains many pleasant walks.
Location : Castle Lane, Caister-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 5SN
Transport: Great Yarmouth (National Rail) then bus or taxi - 3 miles. Bus Routes : no service within 1 mile.
Opening Times : Closed Saturdays, Otherwise 10:00 to 16:30
Tickets : Adults £14.00; Seniors £13.00; Children (5 - 15) £7.00
Tel: 01664 567707