2018 Day 6 – Corfe Castle

Well it’s finally beginning to feel like we’re on the road. Rain has suspended activity and the sun is out splitting the stones, as the Irish say. Time for our obligatory group shot, which is either a fun way to press Chris into posing with Squiz, or a depressing look at how time marches on from year to year, depending on your frame of mind on any given day. Today I’m opting for the former! (He grizzles, but always gives in 😂)

We’re off to explore 1,000 years of history at Corfe Castle today. It’s another National Trust property, but an unusual one as ruins are usually under the protection of Heritage England, vs the Trust. In its time, the Castle was the skyscraper of its day.

Corfe Castle and its same named village’s history begins in 978 with the murder of King Edward the Martyr at the site of the Old Hall. By his stepmother, no less. Christmas dinner might have been a bit tense the following year…

In 1086, following the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror purchased the site and began the build. By 1106, Corfe Castle was one of the best fortified castles in England, and having built such a fortress, Henry I continued a high level of family engagement by promptly imprisoning his brother, Robert of Normandy, in the Keep.

This set the tone for various imprisonments and sieges over the following centuries, the most bloody of which was the killing of 22 Knights defending the imprisoned Princess Eleanore of Brittany in 1214. Things didn’t calm down until Henry III’s time in the 13th century. Cooler heads prevailed until modern times when the castle was sold to the Bankes family who held it for three and a half centuries before gifting it to the Trust.

Today the Castle stands in ruins at the highest point above the village.

It certainly has strategic advantage, the hill is a fierce slope and 10 foot thick walls a further challenge to invaders. I wonder if Knights ever got out of breath, charging up these hills in full body armour? I can see a Monty Python skit, right there. One thing’s for sure, you’d have to be a crack shot to hit anything with an arrow through these tiny openings. Or to get one through the other way!

The Castle has been brought to life today with a dress up depiction of life in days of yore.

There’s a masonry display, a catapult on show, even a lady cooking a typical meal of the day, an “appetizing” gruel of millet in a cauldron. She also has what looks like the world’s oldest pizza oven.

Elsewhere, children line up for the opportunity to clean armour with a mix of sand and vinegar. Nothing like a glimpse into the past to make you appreciate modern conveniences…and cleaning products!

We traipse up and down, marvel at it all, meet some great English dogs, including this spoilt pupster then head off for a tour of the pretty stone village.

Bar the traffic, time has stood still here, its pretty stone buildings a testament to workmanship that’s stood the test of time.

So explored, there’s only time for a late drink in the village and then home through a forest walk complete with steam train for those excellent Stourhead steaks.

Yes, definitely starting to feel like we’re on holiday.