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Corfe Castle

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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.

Get in

By car

On the A351 4 mi (6.4 km) south-east of Wareham and 4 mi (6.4 km) north-northwest of Swanage.

By train

  • Swanage Railway Corfe Castle Station, Station Road, BH20 5EJ, ☏ +44 1929 425 800. a heritage rail-line, runs from Swanage to Nordon Station with occasional connections from Wareham (updated Jan 2021)

Get around


  • 1 Corfe Castle, The Square, Corfe Castle, ☏ +44 1929 481294, ✉ corfecastle@nationaltrust.org.uk. 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.  
  • 2 Model Village Gardens & Cafe, The Square, ☏ +44 1929 481234. A ​1⁄20 scale model that shows what the castle and village would have looked like in 1646 before the castle was slighted. (updated Mar 2016)
  • 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. (updated May 2020)
  • 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.

  • 1 National Trust shop, West Street, BH20 5ED. A small gift shop and tearoom in the village. (updated Apr 2016)


  • 1 The Castle Inn, 63 East St, BH20 5EE, ☏ +44 1929 480208. (updated Mar 2016)
  • The Scott Arms, West St, Kingston, ☏ +44 1929 480270. (updated Mar 2016)


  • 1 The Fox Inn, 8 West St, BH20 5HD, ☏ +44 1929 480 449, ✉ contact@thefoxinncorfecastle.com. M-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-6PM. 16 Century family run pub with beer garden (updated Jan 2021)


There are a number of holiday cottage rentals available in the area.

  • 1 Bankes Arms Hotel, 23 East St, ☏ +44 1929 288188. A boutique hotel offering refurbished en suite bathrooms (updated Mar 2016)
  • 2 Mortons House Hotel, East St BH20 5EE, ☏ +44 1929 480988. A 16th-century Grade 2 Elizabethan manor house hotel and restaurant, in the town centre. (updated Mar 2016)
  • Corfe & Purbeck Holidays, 25A West Street, Corfe Castle, BH20 5HA, ☏ +44 1929 480050, toll-free: 0800 092 3287, ✉ info@corfeandpurbeckholidays.com. Check-in: 10am, check-out: 3pm. Specialises in letting self catering holiday cottages. £320 per week. (updated Jun 2020)


  • 1 National Trust Car Park, East St, Corfe Castle, Wareham BH20 5DR (north of the castle before you drive through the gap.), ☏ +44 1929 477 320. (updated Jan 2021)

Go next

  • To the east Swanage 6 mi (9.7 km)
  • To the west Lulworth 8 mi (13 km)
  • To the north west Wareham 5 mi (8.0 km)

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