A fortification, dominating the surrounding area within the Isle of Purbeck, overlooking the town of the same name, Corfe Castle, is probably the most impressive destination we have visited to date. The Castle was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century and commanded amazing fortification due to its position on top of a hill overlooking the amazing countryside of Purbeck.
Situated between Swanick and Wareham around 4 miles away, Corfe Castle overlooks and overshadows everything in its line of eye. Both the castle and estate manage to cover around 8,000 acres which includes the coastline of the Isle of Purbeck.
For us, one of the best things about Corfe, was that you are able to wander through up and all around in the pretty impressive ruined fortifications that are still in incredible condition. But once you get to the top of the castle steps you are able to listen and see the beautiful Swanick Railway Station and its famous Steam train. On a great day it would be worth taking a ride on the railway as it circles the castle and rides through the outskirts of the countryside.
More about the castle and its history, the castle was on the site already at 900AD but some of the oldest and surviving parts of the site dated to around the 11th century when William the Conqueror built a stone hall and inner bailey wall. Later on, walls, buildings and towers were erected when King John lived at the property. Corfe was also used as a prison and a royal treasure store aswell.
King John was made responsible for maintaining the fortifications and the buildings, ensuring it was always up to date, this includes a west bailey that was added in that time. The castle remained amongst those of royalty for a good while until the 16th century when it was eventually sold to Sir John Bankes.
Sir John Bankes was an English lawyer aswell as a politician who sat in the House of Commons between the years of 1624- 1629. In 1640 he was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas to attend to the king, but had to leave his wife Mary Hawtrey to defend Corfe Castle, In which she became known as Brave Dame Mary for her heroic safeguarding of the site with 3 years during the siege of the English Civil War.
By 1645 the siege was still in effect but Mary had protected well throughout both of the sieges, it was only that Corfe remained one of the few remaining strongholds under royal control in England. It was then besieged by one of the Garrisons officers who betrayed, captured and destroyed with explosives.
Fast forwarding to the 17th century, most of the castles, buildings and fortifications were in such a state and beyond repair, but had to be of use just one last time in the War, it was after this that most of the sites were left as ruins, whereas Corfe Castle was ready and full of supply with its building materials such as doors and windows and stones so that many of the villagers could use these.
In the 1980’s the entire Bankes family estate was handed over to the National Trust, which included the village of Corfe and the castle aswell. It was then in 2006, the National Trust were forced to close the castle for safety reasons so that a restoration project began, and took three years to complete.
This castle has bags of history and an absolute ton of beauty that just has to be seen for yourself. We are currently in the middle of uploading some footage of Corfe and many of the other sites we have visited on our brand new Youtube channel, if you could please head over to their and show your support aswell as visiting our Instagram pages with new adventures to share with you soon.