Corfe Castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain. Although a ruin, the
remains of its once mighty keep are visible from Poole Quay – 6 miles distant, as the crow
flies. Images of it appear frequently in newspapers and magazines.
On a misty day, or
when silhouetted against the sky, there is an air of magic and mystery about it. The castle
was a favourite of the infamous King John, and Lady Bankes defended it nobly for the
Royalists during the English Civil War.
The village of Corfe is also of interest, with its seventeenth-century town hall – said to
be the smallest in England – and which today houses a museum. There is also a model
village and a railway, which offers the opportunity of a ride on a steam train. Quaint
cottages and a peaceful common, where ponies abide, are also an attraction. Famous
visitors include John Wesley,Thomas Hardy, and Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Over the centuries, many different sounds have echoed in and around Corfe and its
castle: the war cries of Viking raiders; the moans of French knights as they starved to death
in the castle’s oubliette; the tap, tap, tap of medieval masons, as they fashioned pillars
and effigies of Purbeck marble with their wooden mallets and iron chisels; the first steam
train giving a hoot as it arrived at Corfe Station in 1885.
Finally, not so long ago, this was a world of horse and plough, performing bear,
scissor and knife grinder, and muffin man. All this and more features in this fascinating
new guide to the story of Corfe, one of the greatest glories of glorious Dorset.
Andrew Norman was born in Newbury, Berkshire, UK in 1943. Having been educated at Thornhill
High School, Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Midsomer Norton Grammar
School, and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he qualified in medicine at the Radcliffe Infirmary. He has
two children Bridget and Thomas, by his first wife.
From 1972-83, Andrew worked as a general practitioner in Poole, Dorset, before a spinal
injury cut short his medical career. He is now an established writer whose published works
include biographies of Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill, Thomas Hardy, T.E. Lawrence, Adolf
Hitler, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Mugabe.
Andrew married his second wife Rachel, in 2005.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 302 3, hardback, 210x148mm, 144 pages. Published 2017.