Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle lies in the parish of Corfe Castle, 5 miles south-east of Wareham and 20 miles from Dorchester. The first part of the name 'Corfe' derives from the Old English 'Corf' meaning a cutting or pass, describing the gap in the Purbeck Hills where the castle stands.

Corfe is famous for its ruined castle which was built in the 11th century. The castle replaced a wooden Saxon building. During the Civil War, the castle was held siege by Parliamentary forces who were kept at bay for many months by Lady Bankes & the royalist occupants. The castle was finally taken in 1643. The parliamentary army then spent many months reducing it to rubble with gunpowder.

The first historical record of Corfe is in connection with the murder of King Edward the Martyr in AD 978. In the 13th century, King John was a royal resident at the castle, as he hunted on Purbeck, and it was used as a prison. By 1635, the castle had been purchased by the then Attorney General, Sir John Bankes.

The parish church (St Edward King & Martyr) was renovated in 1860. It was originally built in the 13th century. The oldest part of the church is the tower. It has a peal of 6 bells and a fine stained glass east window in memory of Lady Charlotte Bankes. The parish records were damaged during the Civil War. A charity was founded over 400 years ago by several benefactors and supported an Almshouse and the poor of the town.

The main trade was in quarrying the local stone known as ‘Purbeck marble’, a fossiliferous limestone. This was used all over England for tombs, lecterns, altars and fonts in cathedrals such as Westminster, Exeter, Lincoln & Salisbury and even in the Tower of London. It is still quarried on the Isle of Purbeck today. In the 18th century, another trade emerged as ball clay was exported to Josiah Wedgewood at Stoke-on-Trent. This is no longer extracted.

The OPC for Corfe Castle is Louise Haywood
You can contact Louise by clicking on the link above to generate an email
Please note Louise has a new email address as of 26 Apr 2015

Census 1790 Census by Kim Parker
1811 Census of Borough of Corfe Castle
1821 Census
1831 Census
1841 Census
1851 Census District 1a District 1b District 1c

Parish Registers Baptisms
1653-1699, 1700-1739, 1740-1779, 1780-1804, 1805-1819, 1820-1841
by Barry Chinchen
1840-1859, 1860-1879, 1880-1889
by Rachel Kent

by Barry Chichen
1763-1836, 1837-1900
(with witnesses) by Rachel Kent
by Louise Haywood

1668-1744, 1745-1794, 1795-1841
by Barry Chichen
1841-1900 by Rachel Kent
1900-1920 by Louise Haywood

Bishop's Transcripts Corfe Castle Baptisms 1840-1848 by Alison Preston
Other Records Corfe Castle Liberty Muster Roll 1569
Corfe Poor Rates 1679
Corfe Castle Poll of 1698
Corfe Castle Residents on 29 April 1714
Corfe Castle Highway Rate 1727/8
by Trudy Norbury
Tudor Subsidy Rolls 1525, 1544 & 1594
Protestation Returns 1641
Hearth Taxes 1662-1664
Return of the names of inhabitants capable of service in case of invasion, 20th October 1803
Extract from: Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)
Apprenticeship Papers 1797-1837
Bastardy Bonds
Peculiar Court Records
Named Wills #1, #2
Wills at the Dorset History Centre
Will Extracts
Extract from Slater's Directory 1852-3
Wreck of the ship Welfare off Kimmeridge 1376
Photographs Photographs of the village and castle including a 1925 view & Old Sketches by A Mudle and Cyndi Marks
Maps The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Corfe Castle' under place search.


For modern location maps visit:-
Records held at the Dorset History Centre Registers
Christenings 1653-1889. Marriages 1695-2001. Burials 1653-1948.



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