So dominating is the castle, that the village is still known as Corfe Castle to this day, rather than being called Corfe and the castle appearing to take its name from the village.
The presence of the, infinitely less attractive, Corfe Mullen a few miles to the north doesnʼt help,
but it does underline the fact that many villages probably took their name from the castle or abbey they served, rather than the other way round.
In terms of 'Location, Location, Location', Corfe Castle scores two out of three. There are very few other castles that can boast such a dramatic site, perched on top of a naturally near conical hill.
Tactically, that hill is located in the only gap in a long ridge of steep-sided downland, and can thus control all north-south movement.
It is only on the strategic level that it falls down. Defending Swanage from attackers from the north or,
conversely preventing attackers who had been foolish enough to land on the Purbeck coast from proceeding inland, is hardly the stuff of legend.
That said, it saw action during two of our civil wars. The first time was during the one between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda
over whether there could be such a thing as a Queen Regnant. The second time resulted in Cromwellʼs troops trying to blow up the castle,
leaving us with the romantic ruin we see today.
For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the National Trustʼs official site, detailed below.
External Links and References
National Trust Handbook entry detailing opening times, ticket prices, facilities, etc. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle
Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corfe_Castle
Corfe Castle by the National Trust
The official guidebook available on site
About a quarter of a mile (400 m) south-west of the castle are the remains of a temporary fortification known as The Rings.
According to the display board, this Norman Ring and Bailey castle was probably built by King Stephen in 1139
as a base for his failed attempt to retake Corfe Castle from Baldwin de Redvers a supporter of the Empress Matilda.
The palisaded ring shaped keep is easy to make out.
The bailey, which is attached to the southern side, is less clear, the southern section of the wall being very indistinct.
About half way along the path from the Visitor Centre into the village are the ruins of the West Mill
To be honest if it wasnʼt for the National Trustʼs display board they would be easy to overlook.
Although there was a mill on this site from 13th century, it became redundant in 1700. The machinery was removed and the buildings were converted into cottages.
Eventually these fell into disrepair and were demolished some time around 1920.
All that you can see today are parts of the south wall and the bricked arched recess in which the water wheel once turned.