Early in the morning, as the sun begins to rise over a glowing horizon and dawn’s pale blush creeps over the land, the ruins of Corfe Castle appear to float above the ground like an island in a sea of mist. The mist is redolent of grassy fields, shrubs and wildflowers from the surrounding heath, along with the distant sea that waits beyond the rolling landscape met by dramatic cliffs. And in the stillness of the hour, it seems as though time itself remains suspended in the enchanting haze.
Corfe Castle is located on the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula jutting out into the English Channel and bordered by Poole Harbor to the north. It dates back over 1,000 years, when it was built by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century. The stone relics of this magnificent castle have been witness to battles, bloodshed and betrayal, along with military and royal intrigues and everyday life. Its position on a hilltop not only commands breathtaking panoramic views, it was naturally fortified against would-be attackers during its heyday. It was not until the seventeenth century during the English Civil War that Corfe Castle was finally captured in a siege and subsequently destroyed on orders of Parliament.
Although the castle is but a shadow of its former glory, visitors can explore the spectacular ruins today and get a feel for its past grandeur. You can roam by the curtained wall with its toppling towers, peek through arrow loops that were used by archers to defend the castle in the Middle Ages, admire what’s left of the formidable Keep whose vacant windows stare like unblinking eyes over the landscape, picnic on the serene castle grounds and discover the beauty and tranquility of the surrounding countryside, coast and its wildlife.
Throughout the year, events like battle reenactments, medieval archery demonstrations and outdoor theater productions bring history alive. There are castle quests (like scavenger hunts) for children and plenty of medieval costumes and paraphernalia for kids to explore, including gowns, helmets, shields and swords.
The ruins of Corfe Castle overlook a delightfully quaint village of the same name, where guests can peruse shops, enjoy tea, coffee and delicious meals, visit the historic parish church and stay at one of the charming inns or cottages, some of which afford lovely views of the castle. Visitors can see what the castle looked like before its destruction in the year 1646, by touring the Corfe Model Village in the village square. This model is built to a scale of 1/20 the size of the original castle and village and makes for a fascinating visit. Visitors can also roam by the coast where chiseled cliffs plunge dramatically into the sea. The coast is part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site that features stunning landforms and fossils which have been the subject of international study.
Although Corfe Castle was destroyed centuries ago, the dignity of its ruins remains steadfast in the hearts of those who have the privilege of visiting this spectacular historic site. Even the sea of mist from which the castle rises is like a royal carpet spreading over the land below the rough and crumbling splendor of its majesty.
For a spectacular time-lapse view of Corfe Castle in the mist by photographer Tom Burn visit Corfe Castle Mist Timelapse
For more stunning photographs by Tom Burn visit www.tomburnphotography.co.uk
Previously published in www.TotsandTravel.com