Corfe Castle has been a Saxon stronghold, a Norman fortress, a royal palace and a family home in ten centuries of dominating the Purbeck landscape. In that time it has seen murder and war, known kings and paupers and its rugged beauty has won the hearts of thousands of visitors.
In 978 AD 18 year old King Edward was murdered on the orders of his stepmother so that her own son Ethelred the Unready could become King of England. Work on the Castle was started in 1080 by William the Conqueror and continued by his successors. By 1300 the castle was considered one of the strongest royal fortresses and was used by the monarchs of England. By 1585 the Castle was considered out of date, and Queen Elizabeth I sold it to Sir Christopher Hatton. In 1635 it was bought by Sir John Bankes by which time it was again a magnificent palace. Lady Mary Bankes and a few retainers twice withstood sieges by Parliamentary forces commanded by Sir Walter Earle before the Castle was captured by treachery. The House of Commons ordered the destruction of the castle in 1646 and was reduced to ruins, as it stands today.
The Castle remained in the ownership of the Bankes family until 1982 when it was bequeathed as part of the Kingston Lacy and Corfe Castle Estate to the National Trust by Ralph Bankes
Corfe Castle is a short 20 minutes walk from Woodyhyde across Purbeck countryside.