Corfe Castle is a village in Dorset and the site of a ruined castle of the same name. The castle, built by William the Conqueror, dates to the 11th century and commands a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage.
The village and castle stand over a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage. The village lies in the gap below the castle.
The village is constructed almost entirely from the local grey Purbeck limestone and comprises two main streets, East Street and West Street, linked at their north end at the Square.
In 2011, the Corfe Castle civil parish had a population of 1,355.
The name "Corfe" is derived from the Saxon word, ceorfan, meaning to cut or carve, referring to the gap in the Purbeck hills where Corfe Castle is situated.
Burial mounds around the common of Corfe Castle suggest that the area was occupied from 6000 BC. The common also points to a later Celtic field system worked by the Durotriges tribe. Evidence suggests that the tribe co-existed with the Romans in a trading relationship following the Roman invasion c. 50 AD.
In 1572, Elizabeth I sold Corfe Castle to Sir Christopher Hatton. Sir John Bankes bought the castle in 1635, and was the owner during the English Civil War. His wife, Lady Mary Bankes, led the defence of the castle when it was twice besieged by Parliamentarian forces. By 1645 Corfe was one of the last remaining royalist strongholds in southern England and fell to a siege ending in an assault, and then destroyed. In 1981, his descendant Henry Bankes bequeathed the castle to the National Trust.
In the 18th century, clay quarrying developed as an industry in the village. Clay extraction continued to provide major employment for the local population until the 20th century.
The Swanage Railway, a heritage rail-line, runs from Swanage to Nordon Station with occasional connections from Wareham.
- 1 Corfe Castle, The Square, Corfe Castle, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A National Trust site, an impressive ruined Norman castle. The castle stands above the village and dates back in some form to the 10th century. It was the site of the murder of Edward the Martyr in 978. During the English Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold and was besieged twice, in 1643 and again in 1646. It is open to the public. Adults £11.00 Child £5.50.
- Model Village Gardens & Cafe, The Square, ☏ . A 1⁄20 scale model that shows what the castle and village would have looked like in 1646 before the castle was slighted.
- Church of St. Edward. The church has an alabaster reredos inset with carvings in white marble, designed by the famous Victorian architect George Edmund Street R.A., which was presented by Lord Eldon in 1876.
- A cross in the square commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee of 1897. Next to the cross is a defunct village pump, bearing the village's arms.
There is a small convenience store in the centre of the village.
- National Trust shop. A small gift shop and tearoom in the village.
There are a number of holiday cottage rentals available in the area.
- 1 Bankes Arms Hotel, 23 East St, ☏ . A boutique hotel offering refurbished en suite bathrooms
- 2 Mortons House Hotel, East St BH20 5EE, ☏ . A 16th-century Grade 2 Elizabethan manor house hotel and restaurant, in the town centre.
- Corfe & Purbeck Holidays, 25A West Street, Corfe Castle, BH20 5HA, ☏ , toll-free: 0800 092 3287, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 10am, check-out: 3pm. Specialises in letting self catering holiday cottages. £320 per week.