Corfe Castle Common

Corfe Castle was recently in the top ten most romantic castles but we think the wild expanse of Corfe Common is a lovely spot for a wintery stroll or a summer picnic.  The common is an unusual spot, open to graze by residents of Corfe Castle and managed by the ancient common Hayward (someone who in the Middle Ages oversaw the harvesting of crops).  So whilst dozing in the summer sun, you will see native breeds of cattle and horses peacefully grazing.

corfe castle common with ruins in background

Corfe Common with the castle peaking through.

The common is managed by the National Trust and is open to public all year.  It is home to a host of rare wildlife due its unusual heathland habitat.  As you enter the common via West St, there is evidence of 6000 year old burial sites, the common is an excellent example of a Celtic field system.

The common was the site of a lesser known coin hoard found by an amateur metal detector.  The hoard of 36 coins from the Roman age and from the Durotrigan tribe was declared Treasure Trove after an inquest in 1980 and were purchased and can be seen in the British Museum.

corfe castle common to church knowleOur favourite walk is from the entrance to the common at West St and turn right,  Continue to the 18th Century ‘Copper Bridge’ an old ford and bridge used to drive the cattle, continue on towards Church Knowle (and a very nice pub called the New Inn)

Corfe Common with views of the walk to Church Knowle.

Corfe Castle Royal Murder

corfe castleCorfe Castle was built by William The Conqueror in the 11th Century.  But due to its strategic position and geology, it had been used as a royal fortification long before the Normans came along.  On the 18th March 978, the dashing English King, Edward rode to Corfe Castle and was greeted by his mother in law Elfhryth, she gave him a drink of mead and as he dismounted he was stabbed in the back by her attendant.  Her son Ethelred took the throne but was forever known as Ethelred the Unready due to his inability to unite the country.  Edward on the other hand was sainted and known as Edward the Martyr.

Corfe Castle was one of only five royal palaces and was often home to the crown jewels.  It was famously blown up by engineers after a siege during the civil war.  The castle was protected by Lady Bankes and was only overwhelmed when she was betrayed and the Roundheads were let in.

Corfe Castle Views

We just love to take a heart-rate raising walk up Sandy Hill Lane (home to Ailwood Cottage) and up to the top of East Hill from this prominent point you can enjoy spectacular views of the ancient castle ruins and Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

Directions: From the Village square, walk down the hill along East St and take the first lane on the right (under the railway bridge).  Approx 200 yards along this pretty lane you will find a signposted walk on the left taking you up the hill.

Did you know?

William Pike a Devon Merchant signed a five year contract with Josiah Wedgewood to provide Purbeck clay?  Much of the local population in the 18th Century was employed in this field of work.

corfe castle sealThe cross in the village square celebrates Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee.  The village pump next to it, displays the village crest.

Corfe Castle was a ‘rotten borough’.  Because of its previous royal status, Corfe Castle had 2 standing MP’s.  The Reform Act of 1832 abolished the rotten boroughs.

Most people know that Purbeck was home to Enid Blyton and setting for many of the famous five adventures.  But did you know that the castle was also featured in 1971 Bedknobs and Broomsticks?

The named Corfe comes from the Olde English for the word cutting.

The site was used as a royal fortification against the Danes by King Alfred and was re-fortified in preparation for the Spanish Armada.


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