Corfe Castle is as its name suggests; a castle nestled high on the hill in the village it dominates and lends its title to. As a child, on our way to Studland Bay, I’d gaze wistfully at its majestic beauty, my forehead pressed up against the window as I dreamed of lords and ladies and princesses of yesteryear, always dreaming of visiting one day with my own gallant knight. Corfe Castle had me entranced, and I knew my first experience within the castle grounds had to be with someone special. Not just anyone, but the man I was going to marry.
Access to the castle is granted by The National Trust; which my husband and I eagerly joined during our first visit to the castle… on our honeymoon. Our daughter calls this the Broken Castle, but it’s the most beautiful broken castle I’ve ever had the privilege to view, walk around, and touch.
It’s been eight years since I first stepped foot inside the grounds, and I was as captivated by its beauty as I ever expected to be. So much so, I’ve now visited this intriguing part of British history three times, yet I wish it were more. During peak season, there are often events running alongside the usual day-to-day activities; you might try on some old ‘peasant’ clothes, or gather to hear tales of days gone by.
There will always be a guide on hand to share stories of how the people of Corfe lived, and how the Castle came to be in the ruined state it is today. But if you’d rather explore at your own pace and saunter through history – picture folk treading the same paths as you; engaging in conversation, laughing, dancing, and eating – you can always draw inspiration from the information boards dotted around the castle, and be captivated by your own imagination.
The romantic in you might imagine a past rendezvous within the hidden depths of the castle, in the days long before the stone walls crumbled away; the whispers of history echoing its secrets amongst the masonry.
Outside the castle grounds, there is a selection of olde-worlde establishments; shops selling trinkets and gifts, a bakery selling traditional Dorset pasties, and an entrance into Corfe’s very own model village – a fantastic place for the children to unleash their own imaginations as they walk like giants through the houses. They’ll encounter fairies – some not so inconspicuous, while others are sleeping, nestled within the trees. The magical garden trail ends with an enormous game of Draughts and a colossal Connect4, perfect for the young ones to calm down and practice their strategy skills while the grown-ups enjoy a cream-tea. This model village is a remarkable miniature replica of the castle and village itself – right down to the farmer and his sheep grazing on the castle hill.
If the opportunity permits, the Swanage Railway is a must, with the railway line running alongside the castle. A traditional steam train travels the route from Swanage – to Norden (the end of the line) – and back, stopping at Herston Halt and Corfe Castle in between. Day-trippers from Swanage often use this mode of transport to visit Corfe, or to simply take a ride on the train.
The village itself is home to a selection of pubs – perfect for some refreshment after a day of gallivanting around Purbeck’s star attraction. The Bankes Arms Hotel has a wonderful beer garden, where you can sit and watch the steam train chug home to the coastal town of Swanage; the inspiration for Time for Love. Be sure to sample some local cider or ale with a delicious Ploughman’s lunch, as the smell of the soot from the coals and the ‘wooh-oot!’ of the passing train becomes embedded in your memory as one of nostalgia – a memory to make you want to return again and again.
You want to believe you’re the only person in the world to discover Corfe Castle; a truly magical place. It’s responsible for captivating the hearts and memories of many, and will be certain to do so for years to come. ♥
Part of this post was written for Wiki Places For Kids – THE website for Kids AND Grown-Ups! Packed with awesome reviews of epic trips out, and a top resource for that much-needed hour out of the house.