Corfe Castle, Dorset

Corfe Castle is a small village on the Isle of Purbeck located midway between Wareham to the north and Swanage to the south in the picturesque county of Dorset.  Wandering around the village with its charming buildings constructed from the local Purbeck stone we soon arrived in the village square.  Here we found a cluster of small buildings comprising a post office,  village store, church, a couple of pubs and a National Trust shop where we always find a good range of gifts and handicrafts to tempt us.

Trebuchet, Outer Bailey, Corfe Castle
Trebuchet, Outer Bailey, Corfe Castle

Moving on, we strolled up the steep path to the castle which bears the same name as the village below.  Built by William the Conqueror, the castle dates back to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.  The castle was named  ‘Corfe’  which means a cutting or gap as it was actually built in a gap of chalk hills created by two streams eroding the rock on either side.  Unusually for castles built in the 11th century, Corfe was partially constructed from stone, indicating that it was of high status.

Tudor cooking demonstration, Corfe Castle
Tudor cooking demonstration, Corfe Castle

Entering the castle ruins through a stone archway we found ourselves in the Outer Bailey.  Here,  a tented Tudor village had been erected where staff dressed in medieval costumes were demonstrating ancient crafts.   We watched a lady baking a chicken pie, the meat cooking in a clay pot hanging over an open fire then we moved on to the nearby stand where a man was demonstrating Tudor beer making techniques.

A display of spices used in Tudor times, Corfe Castle
A display of spices used in Tudor times

Children were having fun trying on metal helmets, playing historic games and having their photos taken in the wooden stocks which used to be seen in market squares. A trebuchet took our attention, this medieval siege engine would have been made to hurl rocks, dead animals or bees’ nests at the enemy. It was a huge machine and could be dismantled and carried around the country to the next battle.

The ruins of Corfe Castle
Exploring the ruins of Corfe Castle

It was then time to explore more of the castle ruins and take in some of the breathtaking views looking down to the village below and across the Purbeck hills.  We couldn’t have timed it better as just as we were leaning over one of the viewpoint balconies a steam train from the Swanage Steam Railway heritage line puffed its way past along the valley. During the summer steam trains run regularly between Swanage and Corfe Castle, we haven’t taken a ride on one yet but it’s definitely on our ‘to do’ list!

A heritage steam train from Swanage passing through Corfe Castle
A heritage steam train from Swanage passing through Corfe Castle

We scrambled over rocky paths and marvelled at how large parts of these ruins had been standing for so long.  Following paths, we ventured into the Keep and peeped through the narrow gaps in the stone.  Being exposed on the hill top it was very breezy but still quite warm when we returned to the car, stopping for a few minutes to read the display boards in the Visitor Centre.

Market place, Corfe Castle village
Market place, Corfe Castle village

It was our first visit to Corfe Castle and we found it to be very enjoyable so if you find yourselves in Dorset it would be an interesting day out.  To find out more you can take a look at the National Trust website here.

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82 thoughts on “Corfe Castle, Dorset

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  5. How exciting to visit this place. I had some old ancestors come from towns near Swanage so this was a nice glimpse into the are in which they lived their lives. I love the outfits in the stalls!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amanda for your interesting thoughts. The National Trust have created an interesting learning experience and fun day out with something for all ages. Swanage is a lovely Victorian traditional seaside resort with a wide sweeping bay. Hopefully when restrictions are lifted I’ll get back down to Dorset and spend a day there and then I can write about it.


  6. Hi there, Thanks for your interesting piece on Corfe Castle and environs. It brings back many happy memories of a happy holiday in Swanage and a visit to the castle and near-by areas. Our lads enjoyed it all. We were there in the 1970s…Keep travelling but take care! Cheers. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Joy, Swanage is still a lovely Victorian seaside resort with its sweeping bay. I’m looking forward to gong on the Steam Railway when it’s running once again and being able to write about it. Thank you for your ever welcome thoughts. We’re fine here, you take care as well! xx


  7. This area of the country is so beautiful. The steam train ride is great, especially if combined with a boat trip along the Old Harry Rocks – makes for a great day out. And the National Trust tea shop, with it’s beautiful view of the castle, does wonderful scones!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your welcome thoughts. We’ve taken a boat trip around the Old Harry Rocks but it was a long time ago and I’d like to do it again. I definitely want to go on the steam railway, hopefully soon after things get back to normal. Love the NT tea shops too.


  8. What remains of the fortress shows many similarities with the equivalent constructions in France at that time, I am thinking in particular of the slightly later Chateau de Gisors. There is certainly a lot to learn from these visits. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Pingback: Day 3. Castell de Bellver, Palma, Mallorca – Love Travelling Blog

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