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Things to see and do at Corfe Castle

Two visitors walking through the historic ruins at Corfe Castle
Explore the historic ruins at Corfe Castle | © Jon Bish

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.

Listen online here:

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.

Listen online here:

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.

Listen online here:

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.

Child in medieval fancy dress posing for a photo at Corfe Castle
Explore Corfe Castle | © Neil Davidson

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.

Wildlife spotting

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.

Aeriel view looking at Old Harry Rocks from the sea in Dorset
Old Harry Rocks as seen from the sea | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Our partners

Resonix Creative

Resonix Creative provide tailored media content for immersive and memorable experiences

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