If you’re looking for a top class castle ruin, look no further than the dramatic Corfe Castle. Perched above the small town of Corfe in Dorset, it’s a popular tourist destination (if you plan to visit, be aware that it will get busy), managed by the National Trust. And as the post title alludes to, it was a filming location for the classic 1971 Disney adaptation of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It’s also a major part of Keith Robert’s book “Pavane”.
Like most castles it has a tumultuous history. Prior to the Norman keep being built, it’s believed there was a Saxon fort here. In 978 the young King Edward visited his step-mother and half brother – and died. Many people think he was murdered.
The remains that are visible now were built in the 12th century for King Henry I. Suffice to say it was designed to be impressive – 21 metres tall on top of a 55 metre hill. As Shrek would say “D’you think he’s compensating for something?”
Later in the 17th century, the castle was a Royalist stronghold, defended when under siege by Lady Bankes whilst her husband was away. She only surrendered after she was betrayed. The woman responsible is said to still haunt the battlements – although as the family was actually betrayed by a Colonel Pitman, so that’s definitely a story.
After that the castle was partly pulled down with gunpowder filled holes in the ground – leading to the gaps in the walls and those left at worrying angles. Locals would likely have “borrowed” the stone work to form their own houses.
It’s a good place to set any kind of thrilling historical tale or a ghost story perhaps. It broods over the town below, it’s drunkenly leaning walls and still imposing keep concealing years of bloodshed.
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