Corfe Castle, Dorset

Artist's Description

Shot with Nikon D3000 at the end of a glorious day – Castle ruins with focus on the walls and the two crows standing guard

Group Features:-

Where on Earth is This

National Trust

Corfe Castle is a fortification in the English county of Dorset. It stands above the village of the same name. The castle dates back to the 11th century, and commands a gap in the Purbeck Hills

The oldest surviving structure on the castle site dates to the 11th century, although evidence exists of some form of stronghold predating the Norman Conquest. Edward the Martyr was assassinated at the site on 18 March 978.

Construction of a stone hall and inner bailey wall occurred in the 11th century and extensive construction of other towers, halls and walls occurred during the reigns of Henry I, John and Henry III. By the 13th century the castle was being used as a royal treasure storehouse and prison. Refortified in 1202–1204, the west bailey at Corfe Castle resembles the bailey of Château Gaillard, built by Richard the Lionheart in 1198.

In 1210, after she angered King John of England, Maud de Braose and her eldest son William were walled alive inside the castle dungeon, where they both starved to death.

The castle remained a royal fortress until sold by Elizabeth I in the 16th century to her Lord Chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton.

The castle was bought by Sir John Bankes, Attorney General to Charles I, in 1635. During the English Civil War, the castle twice came under siege by Parliamentarian forces. Sir John Bankes was away from his estate attending to Charles I so defence of the castle was led by his wife Lady Mary Bankes — “Brave Dame Mary” as she became known.

The first siege, in 1643, lasted for six weeks before the Parliamentarians withdrew with the loss of 100 men. The second siege, in 1646, was resisted for two months before the castle was betrayed by a member of the garrison. After its capture, the castle was slighted with some explosives and mainly by undermining to ensure that it could never stand again as a Royalist stronghold. In the centuries that followed, the local populace took advantage of this easy source of building material and masonry; door frames and other items originally from the castle can be seen in a number of nearby houses.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the Bankes family regained their properties. Rather than rebuild or replace the ruined castle they chose to build a new house at Kingston Lacy on their other Dorset estate near Wimborne Minster.

Artwork Comments

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