Corfe Castle Village
Dorset BH20 5EZ
There is no more eerie sight than seeing ruined Corfe Castle, shrouded in mist, looming over Corfe Castle Village below. The castle guards the only gap or ‘corfe’ in the Purbeck Hills in Dorset. This strategic position was the reason for its existence.
The ruined castle we see today was built in the 11th century and demolished during the English Civil War in 1646. This demolition was quaintly called ‘slighting’!
Corfe is thought to have been inhabited for 6000 years. It is believed that the Celts were living in harmony and trading with the Romans, in 50 AD. Control of the route through the Purbeck range of hills ensured the protection of inland Dorset from a coastal attack.
King Edward the Martyr was murdered outside the castle in 978 AD. The removing of his body from Wareham to Shaftesbury Abbey led to Shaftesbury’s success as a town.
The Medieval Castle
The Keep and Inner Bailey walls were built by the Normans and the castle was extensively enlarged during the 12th and 13th centuries. The castle was the strongest fortress in the country and often used as a royal residence, treasure storehouse and prison.
King John of Magna Carta fame (see Magna Carta Memorial in this website) imprisoned his relatives, and hid his crown jewels at Corfe. King Henry III used it extensively for entertaining and hunting and the castle remained in royal hands until the 16th century.
At the time of the English Civil War the castle was owned by the Bankes Family who were ardent Royalists. The castle was besieged twice and only fell to the Parliamentarians when an insider opened the gates to the enemy.
Following its destruction, the Bankes Family built a new home at Kingston Lacy House. The Bankes family donated the castle and Estates to The National Trust in 1981. The Estates include much of the Dorset coast and Corfe Castle Village & Purbeck Estate.
Extensive conservation work is in progress and access may be restricted to certain areas of the castle. Please check National Trust website for information. The site is steep with steps and uneven paths, however a worthwhile scramble! The views are magnificent.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Booking.com here: External Link
At the entrance to the castle in the Village Square is a traditional tea-room, National Trust shop and Visitor Centre. Guided tours are available.
The site is partially accessible – there are steep slopes, some steps and uneven paths. Passengers may be dropped off in the National Trust car park at the castle entrance. Disabled toilets at NT car park and visitor centre. There is level access to the shop and tea-room.
All year except 25/26 December. Check the National Trust website for opening times.
National Trust members Free.
For current Adult, Concession & Family Tickets, Check with the National Trust
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0) 1929 481 294 (Infoline)
Corfe Castle External Link
- By Rail
The British Rail station at Wareham is just a few minutes walk from the Swanage Steam Railway Station which operates a steam train service from Swanage to Norden calling at Corfe.
For details go to
Swanage Steam Railway External Link
- By Car
The A351 road from Wareham to Swanage runs through the village and beneath the castle battlements.
Parking is restricted and requires a walk uphill to the castle. There is no parking at the Castle.
National Trust Pay & Display (members free) at Castle View, from there 800 yards (732 metre) walk uphill to castle.
There is a 'Pay & Display' car park in West Street in the village. All day parking using Park and Ride from Norden then ½ mile (805 metre) walk to castle.
- By Bus
More Bus Service # 40 runs daily from Poole to Swanage stopping at the British Rail Station in Wareham and of course at Corfe. Check timetables and frequency on Web: More Bus Wilts & Dorset External Link
Google Map - Corfe Castle