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Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill beats Paris, Vienna and the pyramids of Egypt

PUBLISHED: 07:30 22 January 2017

The frozen mere in front of the castle on the hill at Framlingham. Picture: Sophie Pope

The frozen mere in front of the castle on the hill at Framlingham. Picture: Sophie Pope

(c) copyright citizenside.com

A few years ago, I was strolling through Framlingham with Tom, one of my children, writes Terry Hunt, editor-in-chief of the EADT and Ipswich Star.

EADT Editor Terry Hunt pictured with the view from Framlingham College looking over to Framlingham Castle; EADT Editor Terry Hunt pictured with the view from Framlingham College looking over to Framlingham Castle;

Out of the blue, he asked: “Where is your favourite place in the whole world, dad?’’ Without hesitating, and before giving it any thought, I replied: “Right here – in Fram.’’

The speed of my answer took me aback a little, if I’m honest. I’d never devoted much time to thinking about the subject. I’m not the world’s greatest traveller, but I have seen some wonderful places. Beautiful cities like Paris and Vienna, exotic locations including the Caribbean, and, most memorably, the Pyramids, which are utterly awe-inspiring.

But, for me, nothing beats Suffolk, and Framlingham in particular. I have bored people rigid about “Fram’’ for years. Each new senior EADT employee is given a tour of Suffolk which, inevitably, includes a visit to Fram, and a walk to the castle drawbridge to gaze across the mere to my old school, Framlingham College.

There is a running joke in the office about the number of times we publish photos of Fram castle. Self-indulgent on my part? Just a little, perhaps…

Suffolk Super Star Ed Sheeran Picture: Simon Parker Suffolk Super Star Ed Sheeran Picture: Simon Parker

But I now know I’m in very good company. Global superstar Ed Sheeran, no less, feels exactly the same way as me. He says so in his new song, Castle on the Hill. It’s all about growing up in Fram, and how he can’t wait to get back home to see the sun set over Framlingham castle. It’s breaking all sorts of records in the charts.

I don’t mind admitting that – big softie as I am – I had a tear in my eye when I heard the song for the first time. Because, far more cleverly and succinctly than I ever could, Ed had summed up just how I feel about Suffolk, and especially Framlingham. I know many other people feel the same way.

Ed described it as his “love song for Suffolk.’’ For me, it’s the new Suffolk equivalent of the Beatles’ tributes to their home city of Liverpool. Paul McCartney wrote about Penny Lane, John Lennon about Strawberry Fields. And now Ed has put little old Fram well and truly on the worldwide map.

I love everything about Suffolk, and there are many utterly gorgeous towns and villages in what is a very special county. But, for me, the place where I feel most at home is Framlingham. It’s not terribly surprising, because I grew up only six miles away, in Cretingham.

An aerial picture of Framlingham Castle An aerial picture of Framlingham Castle

I went to school at Framlingham College, after passing my 11-plus. When I stared out of the classroom windows (which I did far too much) the view was the stunning castle, which has stood watch over the town for the best part of 1,000 years. Can there be a better view from any classroom in England?

I have happy childhood memories of fun days at Fram Gala (prounced gay-la, not gar-la), and of my dad and me having our hair (when I had some) cut at Mr Newson’s barbers, which was virtually in the shadow of the castle.

My sister and her family have lived in Framlingham for more than 30 years, and I’ve often felt pangs of envy. What a place to bring up children – great schools, just enough social life for them, but a really safe environment.

When our children were small, we would visit Fram as often as I could make it happen. I remember one particularly “embarrassing dad’’ moment in the castle grounds. I was trying to show our three youngsters how, as a child, I used to roll down the steep bank which surrounds the castle. I discovered there’s a big difference between doing that when you’re 11 and trying to recreate the moment aged 40. I completely lost control of the “roll’’ and ended up in a big ungainly heap at the bottom. Needless to say, the children were sensible enough not to follow dad’s lead.

I’m delighted that, even though he’s travelled the globe, been to many exciting places, and met stars from the world of pop and entertainment, Ed Sheeran still loves Fram and considers the town to be his home.

Equally, Fram, in a very under-stated Suffolk way, is terribly proud of Ed. Despite his wealth and fame, he is still able to walk around the town, and pop into the supermarket to pick up a few groceries, without being mobbed. People will say hello to him, and swap a few words, but his right to live as normal a life as possible is utterly respected. I wonder what would happen in London, or Manchester, or Newcastle?

As I’ve already said, Ed has put Fram, and Suffolk, on the map. All over the world, young fans will be finding out where “Ed’s castle’’ is. Some of them might make a pilgrimage to their hero’s home town. Perhaps Fram will reap the benefit. Who knows?

What I do know is that I – and lots of other people – are thrilled by Ed’s homage to Framlingham. And he’s absolutely right. Wherever you travel, and whichever exotic locations you visit, there really is no place like home. Especially when home is a beautiful little market town nestling in the middle of Suffolk. Complete, of course, with its castle on the hill.

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