Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Corfe Castle, Dorset - England at Her Most Picturesque

Corfe Castle, Dorset: village and castle ruins
© Copyright Derek Voller

Corfe Castle's crumbling remains stand high upon a hill with a delightful medieval village sprawled at its feet. Take a step back in time as you explore this unique landscape and uncover the turbulent history which left the 1000 year old castle a mere skeleton of its former glory but retaining its position of dominance, nonetheless.

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
The village, which takes its name from the castle, is a tourist's paradise with a choice of places to stay which combine modern day conveniences with the ambience and mystery of days gone by. Bankes Arms Hotel and Morton's House are both within walking distance of the castle while accommodation can also be found further afield at the nearby towns of Wareham, Swanage and Poole. Pubs and restaurants include The Bankes Arms Hotel, The Castle Inn, The Fox, The Greyhound and The Halfway Inn, all centrally situated and within easy walking distance. For the lover of cream teas, these can be had at The National Trust Tea Room, Norden House Restaurant and The Model Village Courtyard Cafe.

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.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Denise_Pienaar

The photographs in this post are licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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