|Corfe Castle, Dorset: village and castle ruins|
© Copyright Derek Voller
Originally built to guard and protect against invasion from the coast, its history dates back to the Roman times. William the Conqueror re-built it as a royal fortress using Purbeck stone. It was acquired by Sir John Bankes in 1635 and came under Parliamentarian siege during the civil war. As Bankes was away at the time serving Charles 1, the defence of the castle was led by his wife. The indomitable Lady Bankes was eventually betrayed by an officer in her own garrison and the siege ended with the Parliamentarians seizing the castle and using explosives to destroy it. Over the years the local populace plundered the castle of its fallen masonry, using the stone to build and restore houses in the village.
|West Street, Corfe|
© Copyright Robin Drayton
In the village square stand various shops, restaurants, tea rooms and of course, the Ginger Pop Shop, which sells 'all things Enid Blyton', owing to the fact that on one of her numerous holidays in Dorset, the ruin of Corfe Castle became her inspiration for Kirrin Island and the adventures of the Famous Five.
A stroll through the village reveals further delights such as the model village which is an exact scale replica (1/20) of the village and the castle as it was before being destroyed by Cromwell's army. Each building in this historical village has its own story to tell, such as the Old Forge, the Parish Church and England's smallest Town Hall which is now a museum containing many artefacts relating to early village life.
Aside from the delight of exploring the remains of the ancient castle with its violently displaced walls, one of the highlights of Corfe Castle is, reminiscent of a bygone era, a ride on the old steam train which runs from Norden, stopping at Corfe Castle Station, through to Swanage.
It is without doubt an intriguing place, with something for everyone. Well worth the visit and not to be missed.
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