With its commanding view of the Purbeck Hills, Corfe Castle is probably the most majestic of all medieval ruins in England.
It is believed that the Romans already built an outpost here. Historical records, however, first mention a wooden castle here in the 9th century, which the present limestone fortress replaced soon after the Norman invasion.
King John improved the fortifications in the 13th century and Henry III added a few walls, towers and gatehouses. In 1572, Elizabeth I sold Corfe to her dancing master, Christopher Hatton. The castle was sold again in 1635 to Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Bankes, who used it as a second home.
Corfe resisted a 6-week siege during the English Civil War in 1643, but was finally taken in 1646 after more sieges that left it in a state of ruins as we see it today. The ruins remained the property of the Bankes family until as late as 1982, then was passed over to the National Trust.
Note The Greyhound pub in Corfe Castle village. It was built in 1580 and is allegedly the most photographed pub in England.
Opening Hours & Admission
The ruins are open daily all-year round from 10am to 6pm (until 5pm in March & October, and 4pm from November to February). Admission is £4.70 for adults and £2.30 for children. Other discounts exist for families and groups.
How to get there
Corfe Castle is located in the village of the same name, a dozen kilometres south-west of Bournemouth on the A351 Wareham–Swanage road.
Wilts & Dorset bus No 142, 143 and 144 tun hourly from Poole to Swanage via Corfe Castle (about 20min).