The pretty village of Corfe Castle sits at the bottom of the picturesque county of Dorset, a delightful cluster of buildings carved out of the famous grey Purbeck limestone. Sitting in the middle of the glorious Isle of Purbeck, famous for its sandy beaches and national nature reserve, it is also home to a captivating ruined castle which bears the same name as the village. Standing over a gap in the Purbeck Hills, the village is nestled in the gap just below the castle and is only a ten-minute drive to the rugged Jurassic Coast of the south.
Set in the heart of Purbeck's lovely countryside, yet also just a short distance from the sea and the Jurassic Coast, Corfe Castle has a variety of great things to see and do. There's much more to Corfe Castle than just the castle itself - there are a whole host of attractions and activities in the village.
Things to do in Corfe Castle
The dramatic ruins of this thousand-year old castle stand proudly above the village, the ghoulish site of the murder of Edward the Martyr in 978. A royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, it was besieged twice in the 17th century and has had a fascinating history of defence and warfare. Now owned by the National Trust and open to the public, it is a great place to spend an afternoon, discovering how the castle has changed hands over the century as well as exploring the fascinating ruins. The fallen walls and murder holes are great fun for children to discover and the views across Purbeck are simply breathtaking. The Castle is also home to a National Trust shop, 18th century tea rooms and garden, as well as a useful visitor centre.
Corfe Castle Village
Head down to the pretty village of Corfe below the castle where you can continue your historical quest as well as grab a bite to eat at one of the many local pubs or restaurants. Head to one of the quaint stone-fronted tea rooms if you want to finish your day with a traditional cream tea and browse amongst the lovely selection of independent shops and small galleries if you want to take home some mementos of the trip.
The Church of St. Edward and Village Square
On the opposite side of the square to the castle, the gothic-style St. Edward's Church is dedicated to King Edward, reputedly killed in 978 on the orders of his wicked stepmother who wanted her son Ethelred the Unready to be king. Other points of historical interest include a cross in the square commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 as well as a now defunct village pump which bears the village’s coat of arms.
The Corfe Model Village
Located in the village square, the model village shows what the village would have looked like in 1646 before the castle was destroyed by Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War. Here you have a fascinating insight to the ancient village and castle, restored in Purbeck Stone on a 1/20 scale.
Enchanted Gardens and The Courtyard Café
Just a stone’s throw away from the model village, you will find yourself in the beautiful Enchanted Gardens. Generations of gardeners have tended this enchanting spot and it has recently been restored to its former glory with traditional colourful English borders sitting happily alongside rare shrubs and trees. When your feet can hold you up no more, settle down over a traditional Dorset Cream Tea in this lovely secluded paradise - also open for lunch, it has a special children’s menu for little ones.
For a chance to see the gorgeous countryside surrounding Corfe Castle, hop aboard the Swanage Railway for a trip between the village and the coastal resort of Swanage. Running every day between April and October and at weekends throughout the rest of the year, the station is a brilliant recreation of a 1950’s railway station, having won a national heritage award for its signal box. An extra treat is the railway museum behind the station which is home to a selection of fascinating objects from the steam-train era.
Before leaving the village, you must head to Corfe Castle Town Trust Museum. Situated on the ground floor of the smallest Town Hall in England, it is a tiny haven of images and artefacts with insights into the fascinating history of the area. Slightly outside of the village, the award-winning Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum is true to its name – aiming to recreate a working environment typical of the clay mining industry of the area for visitors. Here you can walk through underground passages and there is also the opportunity to see the narrow-gauge railway system and diesel hauled trains on certain days during the summer.
Around Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle in situated in a gap in the Purbeck Hills between Wareham and Swanage on the coast. Only 15 minutes by car to Swanage, Worth Matravers and Kimmeridge, it is also approachable by the Sandbanks Ferry from Poole or Bournemouth via Swanage.
Stay in Corfe Castle
If you are inspired to visit the breathtaking castle and drink in the beautiful countryside of this lovely area, why not have a look at our selection of cottages in Corfe Castle? They will be the perfect base to visit all of the wonderful things that this area has to offer.