Like many Suffolk coastal towns it was of some importance as a port and fishing village in the Middle Ages. It has a mediaeval castle, built to dominate the River Ore and a Grade I listed parish church, St Bartholomew's. The castle was built as a royal castle built by Henry II in the period 1165-1173 as an assertion of monarchical power in the region. Although the castle became less important after the king's death in 1189, the importance of Orford as a port grew. By 1200 its level of trade exceeded that of nearby Ipswich. Henry III granted Orford its first charter and the town returned a member of parliament in 1298, although it did not function as a constituency throughout the 14th century.
The population of Orford greatly increases during the summer months, partly due to its flourishing sailing club. In common with other Suffolk coastal towns and villages, a substantial number of properties in Orford are holiday or second homes.
As well as the Castle, Orford's attractions include river cruises, three pubs, a renowned traditional bakery, a smokehouse and a restaurant; the Butley-Orford Oysterage.
Historically Orford was an ancient borough institutionalised as Orford Corporation. Considered a rotten borough, this status was revoked by the []. Orford forms part of the electoral ward called Orford and Tunstall. The population of this ward at the 2011 census was 1,830.
- John Kirby was a school master in Orford.
- Charlie Underwood M.B.E - Lighthouse Attendant and Author of "The Great Light" and "My Orford" (1924-1997)
- "Town population 2011". Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- AA Book of British Villages. Drive Publications Limited. 1980. p. 306. ISBN 9780340254875.
- "A visitor Guide to Orford in Suffolk". Bed and Breakfast Nationwide. Bed and Breakfast Nationwide. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
-  East Anglian Daily Times 12 March 2016 "Revealed: The Suffolk communities dominated by second homes"
- "THE 20 MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN THE UK AND IRELAND, 20 October 2020". Retrieved 14 March 2021.
- "Orford and Tunstall Ward population 2011". Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- "Orfordness Visitor Map" (PDF). National Trust. 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
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