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Corfe Castle

Page history last edited by Ann Vipond 6 years, 9 months ago


In 1645 Corfe Castle, Dorset, assumed its present state when Parliament ordered its demolition. The towers in the defensive wall, vertically broken and frighteningly leaning, speak of the power of gunpowder, but show how wonderfully the stone was put together, bonded by mortar which included thousands of strengthening seagull eggs.


The original Castle was very different, of course, and demonstrated a step forward compared with the normal defenses of its time.
Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, it stands on a mound centred on a gap in a long chalk hill range which roughly isolates the "Isle" of Purbeck from the rest of Dorset. The Castle certainly seems to have commanded a dominant position and showed itself as being able to withstand attacks and a long siege in 1643.

The outstanding parts of its history might be summed up as follows.
In 1139, during the civil war of Stephen's reign, Corfe withstood a siege by the King, the nearby earthworks now known as "The Rings" being part of the military layout. There seems to have been little recorded action during the reign of Henry II, and the activity during the reigns of John and Henry III was mostly of new extensions of towers and walls.

In the mid-13th Century, a camp for workers had grown enough to become a small village, and this has grown over the centuries to become Corfe Castle Village with all the usual facilities ; a church, railway station, shops, and Town Hall.
Corfe Castle ceased being a royal fortress when Elizabeth I sold it to Christopher Hatton in 1572, and in 1635 it became the property of Sir John Bankes.

The English Civil War broke out in 1642, and while her husband was away with the King, Lady Mary found herself with 80 retainers in a six-week siege, facing 500 Parliamentary forces, eventually being relieved by the Royalists.

1645 saw the Castle "slighted" and little physical change has occurred since.
In the 1980s, Ralph Bankes bequeathed the entire Bankes estate to the National Trust, including Corfe Castle, much of the village of Corfe, and the family home at Kingston Lacy.


Taken from the Castle Projects Private Wiki 


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