Boasting one of the most unique and beautiful settings in the UK, the historic Corfe Castle village is a truly special spot in Dorset, nestled beneath the ruin of Corfe Castle itself.
Steeped in history, with the castle keeping watch over its streets, the village of Corfe Castle offers plenty to explore – from the museum housed in England’s smallest town hall to the ancient pathways and burial mounds dotted across Corfe Common.
Why not have a pint of locally-brewed ale in The Fox, reputedly the oldest pub in Corfe Castle (circa 1568), or take a stroll around the village’s pretty streets, interesting gift shops and period railway station?
Exploring Corfe Castle village
Corfe is the perfect day out for a fun-filled family day of exploring; a romantic wander around a ruined castle and historic village; or a place to meet friends and family for a drink or bite to eat in a stunning setting.
How to fit everything into one day
Both locals and visitors like to make a day of it by arriving in style on the Swanage Railway steam train. Spend some time exploring Corfe Castle railway station, which is also home to the Swanage Railway museum.
If you’re an early bird, Corfe Castle Model Village does an excellent full English/vegetarian breakfast, with courtyard seating outside to the front and terrace seating overlooking the pretty English country garden and model village at the rear.
Explore Corfe Castle itself, which holds regular Viking and Saxon re-enactments that bring history to life with traditional craft and military displays in the castle grounds. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, along with a wealth of information as you go on Corfe Castle’s turbulent history. Stop at the top for impressive views across the village.
There are plenty of lunch options in the village itself, but if you fancy DIY-ing it, you can grab everything you need for a picnic at the village bakery and Corfe Castle Village Stores. Be warned…to get from one the other you have to pass the ice cream shop, Box of Delights, as well as a traditional sweet shop, so you may get side-tracked! You’ll find a cut-through to a picnic area and playground on both East Street and West Street, with views across The Halves common.
Take a stroll up West Street for pretty thatched cottages and access to Corfe Common with views reaching over to Kingston and Church Knowle (both also lovely little villages to explore.
You’ll also find various independent shops in the village in which to buy a memento of your day. Try the model village for pocket money-spending; Seasons Green for a mixture of pretty, practical and handmade gifts; and the Gallery at 41 for local artists’ work.
Check the calendar for Corfe Castle Village Hall, which holds various events throughout the year including productions by the local amateur dramatics society, Double Act; travelling shows via Artsreach Dorset; and charity evenings such as barn dances and quiz nights.
Feeling peckish? Try a bite to eat at a cafe, pub or restaurant
There are four pubs in Corfe Castle, which all serve food and between them host regular live music, quiz nights and charitable events. There is also a bistro, two cafes, and a restaurant at hotel Morton’s Manor.
Many of these feature locally-produced meat and fish, and Dorset-grown ingredients – with The Pink Goat even serving organic goat meat from the nearby Swanage Gourmet Goats.
And if you’re a fan of gin, despite its modest size, Corfe Castle Village Stores stocks over 350 different kinds. Local Cedar Organic eggs with their fantastically yellow yolk can also be bought in the shop.
Places to eat in Corfe
All the eateries in Corfe Castle all within a short walk of the village square.
- The Bankes Arms Hotel – Dine or stay at The Bankes Arms in Corfe’s village square. Good for local ales and glimpses of the castle and the steam train chugging by at the bottom of the garden. Contact for room availability: ℹ️ bankesarmshotel.co.uk 📞 01929 288188
- The Greyhound – Set at the foot of the castle, the Greyhound has a beer garden and interesting menu, and even a doggy menu! Check their website for upcoming events: ℹ️ greyhoundcorfe.co.uk 📞 01929 480205
- The Castle Inn – A traditional family-run and friendly pub on East Street. Traditional pub grub and local, seasonal dishes as well as regular and popular themed dining, such as steak night and curry night. Dogs are allowed in the garden only. Book a table by giving the Castle a ring: 📞 01929 480208 ℹ️ www.facebook.com/TheCastleInnCorfe/
- The Fox Inn – Believed to be the oldest pub in Corfe, The Fox serves good food, a range of local beers and has a pretty garden. Contact details: ℹ️ www.thefoxinncorfecastle.com 📞 01929 480449
- Morton’s House Hotel – The bar and restaurant at Morton’s Manor is open to non-guests and consistently achieves two rosettes for its food – why not book a table for afternoon tea or book a table for dinner: ℹ️ www.mortonsmanor.com 📞 01929 480988
- The Pink Goat – The Pink Goat is perfect for a special occasion lunch as much as a chilled brunch or coffee and cake with friends. Book a table or enquire about hiring the space for an event by phoning or checking in online 📞 01929 480399 ℹ️ www.thepinkgoat.co.uk
- Corfe Castle Model Village & tea room – The model village in Corfe is also a popular place for breakfasts and lunches with its terrace overlooking its charming garden and its courtyard seating area to the front ℹ️ www.corfecastlemodelvillage.co.uk 📞 01929 481234
- National Trust tea room – Situated to the left of the castle entrance, the National Trust tea room’s garden looks up on the castle itself – handy for a spot of lunch before or after you explore it
Feeling active? Explore sports and activities
Discover beautiful walks in and around Corfe Castle, as well as various sport and activity options.
- Studland Trekking Centre – The riding stables in nearby Studland doesn’t do lessons but it does offer hacking for both novices and experienced riders across heathland, through the forest and along the beach of Studland Bay
- Dorset Adventure Park – A short drive outside Corfe Castle village is Dorset Adventure Park – with two outdoor inflatable courses and a mud trail assault course
Walks in and around Corfe Castle
Your exploration of Corfe doesn’t end at the castle – just a stone’s throw from the village are a wealth of wonderful places to unearth some of Purbeck‘s historical gems and thriving wildlife.
- Corfe Common – Amble your way around the gently undulating hills of Corfe Common. This 90 hectare expanse of grassland has been largely left untouched for over a thousand years and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest
- The Rings – Take a short stroll from the village to explore Corfe’s second castle remains – the 12th Century earth mounds are known as The Rings – now home to badgers, so dogs should be on a lead
- Corfe River – Recapture your childhood at the tranquil picnic spot by Corfe River – perfect for playing pooh sticks and having a go crossing the stepping stones. There’s also a small wooden play area on the riverbank
- Hartland Moor – A short drive or walk from Norden station leads you to Hartland Moor’s expansive heathland, where heather carpets the ground when in bloom
- King’s Wood – Discover carpets of bluebells and paths flanked by wild garlic in the secluded King’s Wood – a hidden gem along the Corfe – Studland road
- Purbeck Hills – Take your pick from the many beautiful walks through the Purbeck Hills, with their far-reaching views of farmland and the sea
Corfe Castle Museum
Step into the small but perfectly-formed museum on West Street for a little slice of local history.
The Corfe Castle Museum is proudly housed in the smallest town hall in England and is packed with various artefacts and historical items and information of the area’s rich past.
You’ll find the museum on West Street, just opposite the model village and the Fox Inn pub.
Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help with the museum’s upkeep.
And you can visit the nearby Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum to learn even more about the area’s ball clay mining history.
Local facilities and amenities
Corfe Castle has a thriving community, including a library, primary school and pre-school, regular workshops and social events in the village hall. It also has an active social club and a sports pavilion.
Corfe Castle village hall
Located fairly centrally on East Street, Corfe Castle village hall is an important hub for the village and surrounding community.
Various clubs, classes and groups meet regularly at the hall, and there are many one-off events, such as fundraisers, theatrical productions and music events held throughout the year.
Corfe’s village hall has been recently renovated and extended, with the hall and its adjoining rooms available to hire for private events, such as weddings and birthday parties.
There’s a kitchen with a large serving hatch to the main hall, as well as plenty of parking, toilets and disabled facilities, and baby changing room.
Here are the regular events that run in Corfe:
Arts, crafts & antiques
- Antiques & collectors’ fair – Cameo Fairs bring vintage finds and collectibles to Corfe, along with hot drinks, snakcs and lunches. First Sunday of the month, between 10am – 5pm
- Aquarius – Corfe’s women’s group meets between 1.30pm – 4pm, first Tuesday of the month and has regular speakers and organised days out
- Purbeck Crafts – The village’s yarn and craft group (formerly Wool Workshop) meets weekly on Wednesdays between 9am and 12pm and welcomes people from outside the area as well as visitors who want to have a go at crafting
Children and youth clubs & activities
- Beavers – Thursday evening 4.30 – 6.30 (term time only)
- Brownies – Tuesdays 5.45pm – 8.15pm (term time only)
- Cubs – Thursdays 6pm – 7.30pm (term time only)
- Dance class – Fridays 10.45am – 12.45pm
- Moo Music aged 0 – 5 – 11.30am & 12.30pm
- Toddler group – Tuesday mornings 9am – 12pm
- Youth club – Wednesdays 5pm – 8.30pm, for Yr 7+ (term time only)
Drama, music & social
- Coffee morning – Join local members of the community for a friendly cuppa and slice of homemade cake on the first Saturday of every month, from 10.15am
- Chess club – The Purbeck Chess Club meets every Monday evening between 7pm – 11pm
- Bingo – 6.30pm – 10pm
- Double Act – Corfe’s amateur dramatic society, Double Act, meets every Monday between 6.45pm – 9pm. The group is open to everyone and works toward a production every year, as well as running Murder Mysteries. Check past performances and find out how you can get involved on their website: double-act.org.uk
- Gardening Club – First Thursday evening of the month, 7.45 – 9.45pm
- Ukulele group – Wednesdays between 2pm – 5pm
Sports & health
- AA meeting – Thursday evenings between 7.15pm – 9.15pm
- Badminton – Tuesdays 8.15pm – 9.45pm. For information call Chris Kemp on 01929 480007
- Carers’ support group – Held every third Wednesday of the month, 10am – 12pm
- CC Carers’ Time – 9.30am – 12pm on the last Thursday of each month
- Purbeck Dance Studio – Learn Latin American & Ballroom dance or Line Dancing with Donna from the Purbeck Dance Studio on a Monday morning 9am – 12pm or Tuesday evenings 7pm – 8pm. For information call Donna on 01202 243803
- Pilates – Running on Wednesday and Friday mornings, as well as Wednesday evenings as follows: Weds (9.30am – 10.45am and 7 – 8pm) and Fridays (9.30am – 10.30am)
Corfe Castle Parish Council meets at the village gall on the second Monday of each month at 7pm.
Explore the parish council’s website or Facebook page to find out further council information. There’s a contact form on the website for you to get in touch with any parish council matter, simply give them a call:
Village hall contact details
To find out more, check the latest on the village hall’s calendar, or enquire about booking it for your event, get in touch online or by phone.
You can also see the different sizes of the rooms available on the hall’s website.
You’ll find Corfe Castle village hall just behind the village library, just off East Street (postcode: BH20 5EE), where the hall’s car park is located.
- ℹ️ www.corfecastlevillagehall.co.uk/index.html
- 📞 01929 480109
Corfe Castle Library
Despite being a small library, Corfe Castle Community Library has a rotating stock system with other Dorset libraries, meaning you’ll always have something new to read.
There are well-stocked and current children’s and Young Adult sections, as well as new releases.
There’s also a computer and printing & photocopying facilities at the library.
Library opening times
- Mondays 3pm – 5pm
- Wednesdays 11am – 12pm and 3pm – 5pm
- Saturdays 10am – 12pm
If you can’t make it down to the library to have a browse or want to read something that’s not currently on the shelf you can easily order books online: www.librarieswest.org.uk/
- 📞 01929 480760
- 📍Corfe’s library is at 67 East Street, which is just past the Castle Inn pub and shares a car park with the village hall (postcode: BH20 5EE)
Corfe Castle Surgery
The GP surgery in Corfe is located just off West Street, at Tom’s Mead (postcode: BH20 5HH).
- Phone number: 01929 480441
- Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm
There is car, bicycle and disabled parking on-site.
Wareham and Swanage both have community hospitals, with Swanage running a minor injuries unit (between 8am – 8pm every day).
The nearest urgent care and Accident & Emergency centres are at Poole Hospital, Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester and the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
How to get to Corfe Castle
Postcode for your SatNav: BH20 5EZ. The village is situated on the A351 between Wareham to Swanage.
There are two main car parks in Corfe Castle.
- National Trust – The National Trust car park is on your left as you come into the village from Wareham. SatNav: BH20 5DR
- West Street – The pay-and-display on West Street is handy for both the castle and the village. SatNav: BH20 5HH
Alternative parking in Corfe
Some on-street parking is also available in the village, but has lime-limit restrictions.
- Challow Walkers’ – This car park (situated along Sandy Hill Lane) can only fit a handful of cars, but is a good place to stop if you’re planning on walking up East Hill. BH20 5JF
Take the Swanage Railway to Corfe Castle for a day out without driving. Corfe Castle railway station is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the village square and castle.
If you’re coming from further afield, South Western trains stop at Wareham where you can pick up the No. 40 bus or a taxi.
The number 40 Swanage to Poole bus runs hourly each way throughout the day, stopping at various points in the village.
Visit the MoreBus website for bus timetables: www.morebus.co.uk/services/SQ/40
The history of Corfe Castle village
There is evidence of human activity in Corfe dating back to 6,000 BC, as well as both the Iron and Bronze Ages. Today, you can walk in the footsteps of our ancestors here among ancient barrows (high-status burial mounds) on Corfe Common and the Purbeck Ridgeway. It is believed that Celtic tribes also farmed the land, before and during the Roman conquest.
And of course there is the history of Corfe Castle itself, which ranges from Saxon times to present day.
Most buildings in the village are made from locally-quarried Purbeck stone – a key trade in the area during the 17th Century, although evidence shows that extracting local Purbeck marble was an important industry from as far back as the 1st Century AD.
Purbeck stone has been used all over Britain – from decorative carvings in cathedrals to repaving the streets of London after the Great Fire in 1666. This marked a new beginning for nearby Swanage, as the stone began to be shipped straight from its shores, rather than being taken via land to Poole.
Purbeck stone is still extracted and used as a building material today – you can explore the now disused quarry caves of nearby Winspit for a sense of its history, or simply take a stroll around Corfe Castle village and admire the work of some of Purbeck‘s first quarrymen and quarry owners who began this industry in the area.
The village was also a hub for Purbeck Ball clay mining in the area between the 18th and 20th Centuries (notably utilised by china and porcelain producer Wedgewood in the 1700s). For some years, clay mining was a primary source of income for residents of Corfe Castle.
The expansion of the ball clay industry led to the creation of Dorset’s first railway in 1806. This gave rise to the eventual development of the Swanage Railway in 1885, which runs today as a heritage locomotive train line. You’ll find a small museum dedicated to the area’s ball clay mining just outside Corfe at Norden train station.
The fact that many of the original houses and cottages have been so well preserved makes Corfe Castle not only a picture-postcard village, but one where modern-day living embraces the original character of the village.
Today, tourism is a big industry (as it is across much of the Isle of Purbeck), although traditional economies such as farming still have a significant presence. Many residents commute to Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth and Dorchester for work.
There is a higher number of second and holiday homes in Corfe, Swanage and Purbeck compared to some other areas of the county. However, the sense of community in Corfe Castle is strong and apparent whether you’re a local or a visitor, with a wealth of seasonal and year-round events, activities and places to explore.
- Swanage – Spend a day at the seaside in Purbeck’s only seaside town with its beautiful sandy bay, watersports activities and plenty of places to eat, relax and explore
- Swanage Railway – Step back in time on a steam train. Each stop along the way has its own unique area of Purbeck to explore and things to do
- Margaret Green Animal Rescue Centre – a lovely afternoon out for young children and fans of four-legged furries in the nearby village of Church Knowle. The centre cares for a range of animals, including cats, rabbits, horses and pigs. The New Inn is a good spot for a roast while you’re there
- Harman’s Cross playground and village hall – A great playground for all ages. Tie in with one of the regular events this active village hall runs
- Lulworth Estate – Encompassing Lulworth Castle and Park, as well as the stunning Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door
- Tyneham – A ghost village abandoned in World War II. With an incredibly poignant story, this village and nearby walk to Worbarrow Bay makes for a memorable day out
- Studland – With four sandy beaches, a pretty village, miles of walks through sand dunes, heathland and even a path up to Old Harry Rocks, there’s plenty to do in Studland for the whole day