Corfe Castle, Dorset
Corfe Castle, Wareham BH20 5EZ
The village of Corfe Castle stands in a narrow gap where the road from Wareham to Swanage passes through the Purbeck Hills. It is dominated by the ruins of the mediaeval castle, after which it is named.
It was here on the 15 April 975 that a dark and devious plot to assassinate the 17 year old King Edward came to its dreadful conclusion, the Saxon King, Later to be known as Edward the Martyr, was stabbed to death on the orders of his step-mother. Because of its relative inaccessibility, the Castle became the ideal location to stash treasure, regalia and political prisoners. Even as early as 1106 the site was a great fortress and state prison, ‘with massively thick walls and steep approaches from all sides – one of the most impregnable in the Kingdom.’
By 1212 Corfe had become a fortified depot for holding the Kings treasures. King John liked staying in Corfe and hunting in Purbeck, it was here that the King stored 50000 marks prior to his French campaign. Here he starved twenty-two Frenchmen to death, and kept his niece Eleanor for most of her life.
However, the ghost of Corfe Castle is associated with much closer times, that of the Civil War. In 1646, the castle was heavily defended by the Royalists against the Parliamentarians, and it was only the treachery of a local woman which led to the falling of the castle to Cromwell’s men. One can only imagine the feeling of bitterness and hatred in the hearts of the defenders towards the woman who betrayed them. The headless ghost of the woman has been seen many times standing near the Main Gateway of the now-ruined castle.