Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Corfe Castle was once a sturdy stone fort. Although only ruins remain, the crumbling castle atop a scenic green hill, is now one of Britain’s most-visited historic structures. Walk where kings and knights once walked as you explore the quaint alleyways, steps and tumbledown walls.
In its heyday, the castle was vital for monarchists in keeping the supporters of parliament at bay during the English Civil War. Watch a thrilling battle re-enactment in the Old Bailey area to see history in action. Learn about the heroic acts of the lady of the manor, Mary Bankes, who held the fort on her own.
If you are visiting with children, a great way to see the site is to complete the Castle Quest. Pick up a free quest booklet at the ticket office and get the family together to embark on the self-guided adventure. Complete all the exercises in the booklet to receive a prize at the end.
Many parts of the castle were renovated in the first couple of centuries following its construction. View the oldest surviving segment of the structure in the West Bailey and find out about a medieval murder mystery associated with the castle. It is said to involve a young Saxon king who was violently murdered on the orders of his conniving stepmother.
Head to the heart of the castle to see the royal residence, the living quarters of Norman kings. Take note of the exceptional stonework sculptures. The use of stone to build parts of the site indicates the castle was held in high esteem.
Stop by the National Trust shop for toys and souvenirs and take a walk through adjacent town with which it shares its name to see the model village and the historic parish church.
The site opens daily from morning until early evening. There is an entrance fee for adults and concessions are available for children, families and groups.
Corfe Castle is a 25-minute drive southwest from the town of Poole in Dorset. It is part of the Purbeck Heritage Coast, a scenic area of land that juts out from the south of England. Take a train to Swanage Railway Station, which is just a few miles east of the castle.