The village of Corfe Castle is located between Wareham and Swanage. On the north end if the village is the castle which was built around the end of the 11th century by the Normans as one of their great strongholds. The castle replaced an earlier Saxon royal house that stood on the same round hill cut into the Purbeck Hills by the Corfe River.
The castle has had many uses since its construction. Used by King John as his state prison in 1201 and then used in 1205 as John’s treasury and hunting lodge.
In the 14th century the castle was used to hold King Edward prisoner by Sir John Maltravers who owned a large amount of land in the Purbecks.
In the 16th century the castle was owned by the Bankes Family who were the last family to hold the castle before its destruction.
The steep slopes and thick walls made this castle almost impenetrable and it survived several attacks throughout the first 500 years of its life but in 1643 during the civil war the Castle came under attack from Parliamentary soldiers.
Lady Mary Bankes held up against the Parliamentary forces for most of the civil war but eventually the castle was taken through the treachery of one of Lady Bankes men.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Pitman let a group of enemy men in through the main gate and the castle was taken from within.
The House of Commons ordered the destruction of the castle and after several months of tunnelling and explosives it was reduced to the ruins that stand today.
Much of the stone work from the ruined castle was used in the construction of Corfe village until it came under the care of the National Trust who open it to the public throughout the year.
Corfe Castle in 1643
The village of Corfe Castle stands in a narrow gap where the road from Wareham to Swanage passes through the Purbeck Hills. It is dominated by the ruins of the mediaeval castle, after which it is named.
Corfe Castle is reached by the B3531 from Wareham, or it is accessible from Swanage or from Poole via Wareham. There are three car parks, some free, with spaces for the disabled.
The nearest train stations are Poole and Bournemouth. The Swanage Railway runs from Corfe Castle to Swanage. Buses go to Studland from Poole, Bournemouth and Swanage.