Things to see and do at Corfe Castle
There are lots of things to see and do at Corfe Castle. With audio posts dotted around the castle site, you can uncover a colourful history dating back over 1,000 years. There’s family fun to be had on the story trail. And, if you're feeling energetic, why not explore the hills that rise above Corfe Castle, offering views over the surrounding area.
Discover the Corfe Castle ruins
With fallen walls and secret places, 'murder holes' and arrow loops, the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle will captivate people of all ages.
An audio trail has been created in partnership with Resonix Creative, telling the story of Corfe Castle throughout the ages. Sprinkled with humour, this fast-paced experience journeys from the conception of Corfe Castle, through the Norman, Tudor and English Civil War periods, right up to the present day.
You can listen to the three audio posts as you explore the castle:
1. Corfe Castle: a Norman and Medieval home
At the first audio post, explore what 'home' meant to the Normans after Corfe Castle was first built on the order of Henry I, son of William the Conqueror. Discover how Norman Kings lived, entertained their guests and developed the castle throughout the period.
2. A Tudor home at Corfe Castle
At the second audio post, discover how Queen Elizabeth I gave the castle to Sir Christopher Hatton, who set about turning it into a stately home. Find out how Sir Christopher furnished the castle to make it more comfortable, and discover what life was like for the castle's servants.
3. The Bankes family and those who call Corfe Castle home today
At the final audio post, discover how Sir John and Mary Bankes bought the castle from the Hatton family in 1635 as a country retreat. When the English Civil War broke out in 1642, this royalist family came under attack from the Parliamentarians, and the castle was finally destroyed in 1646. Despite this, the Bankes family name lived on at the castle.
Look out for the ravens
An old legend claims that if the ravens ever leave Corfe Castle, something terrible will happen. It's said that they disappeared for a time shortly before the castle was captured during the English Civil War, but since then they've been nesting here quite happily for hundreds of years. Their nest is high up in the stonework – you might see them come and go.
Explore the Purbeck Hills
Corfe Castle and its neighbouring village occupy a gap in the Purbeck Hills (the word 'Corfe' actually means gap). This long stretch of chalk hills is well worth exploring. Head for Nine Barrow Down, whose summit is dotted with Stone Age burial mounds, or Ailwood Down – both offer breathtaking views over Corfe Castle and the village.
Alternatively, head towards the Studland peninsula for far-reaching views across Poole Harbour and out to sea as far as the Isle of Wight.
The entire section of footpath from Old Harry Rocks to Corfe Castle is part of long-distance walking route the Purbeck Way. Take a look at a PDF of the walking route.
Beyond Corfe, the Purbeck Hills march on into the military training ranges around Lulworth. The 18th-century folly of Creech Grange Arch is an unusual landmark along the way.
The chalk grassland in this part of the country is home to a variety of wildlife and nature. Butterflies including the Adonis Blue frequent the area in spring and summer, while orchids can sometimes be seen flowering among the grasses.
Look out for the grey bush cricket with its bluish-grey colouring and long wings. It favours sunny slopes and open fields. It’s very quiet but if you stay still, you’re more likely to spot one.
Listen out for birds of prey soaring in the sky above the downs. Red kites are easy to spot with their distinctive high-pitched whistle sound and reddish-brown forked tail.
Corfe Castle has a colourful history spanning more than 1,000 years. During that time, it has seen its fair share of battles and mysteries. Find out how the castle was built and destroyed, and about the people who lived here.
Situated in an 18th century former cottage, the Tea-room at Corfe Castle serves a delicious menu of hot and cold food, drinks, cakes and bakes. Afterwards, stop off at the Shop to discover beautiful collections of homewares, gifts and locally made ranges to take home with you. The second-hand book shop located in Castle View is also filled with literary treasures.
Find out everything you need to know about booking a group visit to Corfe Castle, from admission prices to information about school visits.
The National Trust carries out vital conservation work in and around Corfe Castle, helping to protect this historic site for the enjoyment of visitors both now and in the future.