Hotels in Corfe Castle
Built almost completely from grey Purbeck limestone, and with just two main streets, the adorable village of Corfe Castle makes you feel like you've stepped into a living museum. Take away the cars and the modern fashions and time looks as if it has stood still here.
Book one of our Corfe Castle hotels and explore the village – packed with an astonishing number of attractions for its size – and the castle which presides over it. The castle is thought to have been the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books.
Built in the 12th century for William the Conqueror's son, King Henry I, Corfe Castle has been used as a royal palace, dungeon, treasury and military garrison. Ruined in the Civil War, the castle is an excellent place to explore, with plenty of places where you can climb up and enjoy views of the surrounding countryside. Children will enjoy playing with the toys and dressing up in the medieval costumes.
The castle mound is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and there is plenty of wildlife, including rare breed sheep, slowworms, butterflies and orchids. Like the Tower of London, the castle has its own resident ravens, and something terrible is supposed to happen if they leave.
Museums and galleries
The village has a museum where you can learn about its history, and a model village showing what the castle and the village looked like before the Civil War. The model village has an acre of landscaped gardens with giant games, a croquet lawn and fossils. There are also three galleries exhibiting work by Dorset artists and artisans – the Boilerhouse Gallery, The Gallery at 41 and Ian Harris Ceramics. The last is in an 18th-century former blacksmith's forge where you can still see the hearth, bellows and anvil.
Train enthusiasts will enjoy a ride on the Swanage Railway, a steam and diesel preserved railway which travels through six miles of beautiful countryside, from Swanage to Norden. There's a stop at Corfe Castle.
Pop into The Box of Delights for award-winning locally-made ice cream, fudge and gifts, or the Ginger Pop Shop, which celebrates Enid Blyton's visit to the village in 1940. As well as more than 150 Blyton titles, including some second-hand out-of-print volumes, there are old-fashioned toys, games, books about the 1940s and 1950s and traditional soft drinks. There's also a National Trust gift shop, a sweet shop with more than 100 types of traditional confectionery, and a jewellery shop.
Eating and drinking
Again, the village has an impressive number of restaurants, pubs and tea rooms for its size. For fine dining, head to the restaurant at the Mortons House Hotel, which has held two AA rosettes since 2002. Fish and seafood are a speciality at the Castle Inn, where you can enjoy home-cooked food amid bare stone walls, exposed beams and inglenook fireplaces, or out in the garden. The National Trust tearoom serves a variety of sweet and savoury Dorset cream teas, as well as sandwiches, soup and Purbeck ice cream. The model village also has a tearoom with a 17th-century courtyard, where you can sample light lunches, cakes and home-baked scones. All four establishments have kids' menus.
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