William the Conqueror founded a castle on this site but the current ruins date from the 12th Century. Sir John Bankes bought the castle in 1635, and was owner during the English Civil War during which his wife led the defence of the castle when it was twice besieged by Parliamentarian forces. The ultimate settlement of the siege involved Lady Banks 'retiring' to Kingston Lacy House, near Wimborne. Now owned by the National Trust (as is Kingston Lacy, and Studland Bay, also originally owned by the Bankes family), it is a great visit, particularly for history buffs. The NT shop in Corfe is one of the Trust's biggest and busiest.