CORFE, A VILLAGE AND A CASTLE
Located halfway between Wareham and Swanage on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle stand on a natural hill guarding the main route through the Purbeck Hills. It guards the gap between the Isle of Purbeck and the rest of Dorset. Nothing can pass in or out without going past the Castle.
CONSTRUCTED ALMOST COMPLETELY FROM THE LOCAL GREY PURBECK LIMESTONE
The village is constructed almost completely from the local grey Purbeck limestone and comprises two main streets, East Street and West Street, linked at their north end at the Square. Around the square, with its cross commemorating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897 are a n umber of shops, post office, church, pubs and hotels.
From the Square you can easily access the Castle, a model village depecting twho teh castle looked before it was destroyed and the Corfe Castle to Swanage steam railway.
There are a number of pubs, restaurant and team rooms offering food and drinks. The village bakery is also situated in the Square.
The main route through the village is East Street which forms part of the A351 main road taking traffic to Wareham in the north and Swanage in the south. Separating the two streets is an area of common land called “the Halves”, and to the south of the village is a much large area of common land.
Burial mounds around the common suggest that the area was occupied from 6000 BC. The common also points to a later Celtic field system worked by the Durotriges tribe. Evidence suggests that the tribe co-existed with the Romans in a trading relationship following the Roman invasion c. 50 AD.
The name “Corfe” is derived from the Saxon word, ceorfan, meaning to cut or carve, referring to the gap in the Purbeck hills where Corfe Castle is situated.
In the 18th century, clay quarrying developed as an industry in the village. By the middle of the century, with the arrival of William Pike – a merchant from Devon, activity expanded significantly. In 1791 Pike signed a five-year contract with Josiah Wedgwood to supply 1200 tons of clay and search for further deposits. Clay extraction continued to provide major employment for the local population until the 20th century.