Corfe Castle at Christmas and a Merry Christmas

The picture below is of Corfe Castle in Dorset, all lit up for the Christmas season.  The castle is in ruins not so much because of its age but rather it was on the wrong side during the English Civil War.  While much of Dorset was under Parlimentarian control, the castle, owned by Sir John Bankes, attorney general to Charles I and of course a Royalist, was held by Bankes’ men whilst he was away in London with Charles.   Bankes’ wife, Lady Mary Bankes remained at the castle with her children.

Parliamentarian forces planned to infiltrate the castle’s garrison by joining a hunting party from the garrison on a May Day hunt, however they were unsuccessful. The Parliamentarians gave orders that anyone joining the garrison would have their house burned and that no supplies were to reach the castle. Initially defended by just five people, Lady Bankes was able to get food through and swell the garrison to 80. The Parliamentarian forces numbered between 500 and 600 and began a more thorough siege; it went on for six weeks until Lady Bankes was relieved by Royalist forces. During the siege the defenders suffered two casualties while there were at least 100 deaths among the besieging forces.

The Parliamentarians were in the ascendency so that by 1645 Corfe Castle was one of a few remaining strongholds in southern England that remained under royal control. Consequently it was besieged by a force under the command of a Colonel Bingham. One of the garrison’s officers, Colonel Pitman, colluded with Bingham. Pitman proposed that he should go to Somerset and bring back a hundred men as reinforcements, however the troops he returned with were Parliamentarians in disguise. Once inside, they waited until the besieging force attacked before making a move, so that the defenders were attacked from without and within at the same time. Corfe Castle was captured and Lady Bankes and the garrison were allowed to leave.  In March that year, Parliament voted to slight (demolish) the castle, which involved bombarding the castle with a great deal of ordnance giving no chance that it might be a stronghold in any future conflict.

This is a much photographed landmark in the Dorset countryside as I’m sure you can imagine.  The National Trust now floodlight the castle during the week before Christmas so this seemed a fitting image for this post.  I had to provide my own floodlighting for the mile marker (which looks rather unfortunately like a gravestone) and surrounding foreground.  I used a torch to ‘paint’ the area during the long exposure.  A very useful technique.

The marker has advised travellers for hundreds of years that it is just a half mile to the village of Corfe.  This information would seem a little superfluous as the village and castle can be clearly seen and it really is a big chunk of stone to have to haul up a hill.  I can only assume this area was at one time, densely forested.

The slightly hazy appearance of the floodlighting around the castle’s main tower is due to smoke from traditional braziers used to give light and atmosphere for visitors at this time of year.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the best for the Christmas season.  Whether you celebrate or not, enjoy the holiday! :-)

Please click on the image for a clearer sharper view..

Corfe Castle at Christmas by Adrian Theze18mm f/16 60 seconds ISO-100

I mentioned the Jurassic Coast and the fact that Dorset is famous for fossils in my last post.  The picture below shows some fossils that were found on the beach at Lyme Regis last week.  I’m grateful to a very good friend with a much sharper eye than me for finding them and, being a bit of an expert on fossils and geology in general for explaining what these are.

These are complete ammonites (not just impressions in rock) that would have been happily swimming in the ocean 150 million years ago or more.  I find that quite difficult to get my head around but there it is, fossilised shellfish as well as some vertebrae from a squid-like creature the name of which I’ve forgotten.  One of the ammonites you can see is encrusted with iron pyrite, otherwise known as fools gold.  How nice it would have been if it were the real McCoy.. :-)


Merry Christmas

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58 responses

  1. A very interesting post. I now live quite near this castle, so I will add it to my list of places to visit and photograph next year! :-)

    December 24, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post Chris. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your visit.

      December 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm

  2. Merry Christmas to you as well, and hope for 2016 to be as good or better then the great year you had.

    December 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Emilio. I really appreciate your thoughts. Merry Christmas and a very happy prosperous new year to you!

      December 24, 2015 at 10:42 pm

  3. How exciting that one can pick up fossils like that – I love them. Best wishes to you for the holiday and New Year. It’s been a good year for you, and I hope next year it all continues.

    December 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    • THank you so much Lynn, the very same to you! The fossils are amazing, they now have pride of place on my desk along with an assortment of rocks, pebbles and lava that I’ve carried back from Iceland. There’s a good deal of cliff erosion happening along the coastline. Basically every high tide, a litte more of the cliff collapses onto the beach. The sea then gets to work on the mud and clay leaving a new batch of fossils for people to find. I forgot to ask my friend why this particular stretch of coastline is so rich in fossils, I’d imagine though it’s just the mix of soil plus erosion that makes them easier to find. :-)

      December 24, 2015 at 10:51 pm

  4. Happy Christmas to you too! Wonderful image :-) The jurassic coast is certainly a fascinating area to explore and photograph! I really must visit again soon.

    December 25, 2015 at 12:29 am

    • Thank you Sarah! A very merry Christmas to you too! I wish you the very best and better health for the new year!

      December 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      • Thanks Adrian :-) Yes, always hoping for better health but whatever may come I shall make the most of the good days! Here’s hoping for more good days than bad :-D

        December 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      • Absolutely Sarah! :-)

        December 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      • :-D

        December 28, 2015 at 9:23 pm

  5. Merry Christmas, and thanks for this bit of history, Chillbrook.

    December 25, 2015 at 7:14 am

    • Thank you Shimon! I really enjoyed the history of the castle also!

      December 25, 2015 at 6:07 pm

  6. I spent happy summer holidays in Studland as a small child with many fond memories of the walk to the Old Harry Rocks and Corfe. A very Happy Christmas to you, Adrian

    December 25, 2015 at 9:54 am

    • Thank you Andy. I’m looking forward to exploring this area a lot more. It’s only a couple of hours away after all and with Dartmoor in between, a good day out or mini break for any photographer for sure!

      December 25, 2015 at 6:05 pm

  7. Beautiful fossils ! Merry xmas to you too x

    December 25, 2015 at 10:54 am

    • Thank you Gin! Did I answer your question on visiting Devon and Dorset in February? If not, it’s obviously not the best time of year but with so much to see and photograph whatever the weather, there’s never a bad time to visit! :-)

      December 25, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      • haha yes, I figured it was not probably the best time of the year. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my holiday so I will probably go there at another time

        January 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

  8. Beautiful pictures.Merry Christmas to you and all the people you love

    December 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    • Thank you Lou! And a wonderful Christimas to you and all those that you love too! I lovely thought! :-)

      December 25, 2015 at 6:15 pm

  9. poppytump

    Oh this turned out beauifully ChillB, a toytown village all lit up and ready for Christmas !
    So glad there was a composition to be had after that interesting haul up the hill ;-) What ARE we like in search of a picture. Tricky to say the least with fading light on that slope and one fiercesome wind whipping around to juggle settings , and then contending with that brightly lit but smoky atmosphere around the ruins .. numerous utterances from us both of * my castle is blown. again * was cry of the night I believe :-D

    December 25, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    • Thank you Poppy. It was worth the pain, the bruises the cuts and the poke in the eye with a sharp twig.. there’s a saying that goes something like that isn’t there? It was an interesting way to spend a few hours but the shot was worth it I think! :-)

      December 25, 2015 at 6:18 pm

  10. Black Lightness

    Merry Christmas!

    December 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    • Thank you! Merry Christmas to you too! :-)

      December 25, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      • Black Lightness


        December 25, 2015 at 6:39 pm

  11. Merry Christmas Adrian and all the best in the New Year. Look forward to seeing many more of your posts.

    December 25, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    • Thank you Simon. I hope you’ve had a fabulous Christmas. I look forward to seeing many more of your photos likewise! :-)

      December 28, 2015 at 7:39 pm

  12. A Merry Christmas to you, Adrian! And thank you for every wonder in photos you are sending us!

    December 25, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    • That’s very kind Leya thank you! I hope you’ve had a fabulous Christmas and here’s wishing you a wonderful new year!

      December 28, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      • I hope the same for you, thank you!

        December 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm

  13. Happy Christmas, Adrian…will look forward to sharing another year with you here on the blog. :)

    December 25, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    • Thank you Scott! The very same to you! A lot to look forward to in the year ahead! :-)

      December 28, 2015 at 7:37 pm

  14. A wonderful festive season to you Adrian and a big thankyou for all the pleasure I have had from viewing your images this year Peace to all Trees

    December 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    • That’s very kind Trees thank you. I hope you’ve had a fabulous festive season yourself and wish you a fabulous new year!

      December 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

  15. leecleland

    Happy Christmas and have a wonderful festive season Adrian. I love your English history, everywhere you put a foot in England seems to have a story to it.

    December 26, 2015 at 3:20 am

    • Thank you so much Lee. I hope you’ve had a very enjoyable Christmas and hope you have a fabulous new year! There’s certainly a lot of history here that’s for sure!

      December 28, 2015 at 7:35 pm

  16. Your photo of the village and castle is amazing – you’ve captured so much in one image and I enjyed your history too. The fossils are fascinating as is your luck at having such a sharp eyed friend to help find them!

    December 26, 2015 at 4:44 am

    • Thank you Carol! I love those fossils. Just amazing to think of their age! :-)

      December 28, 2015 at 7:33 pm

  17. Great shot Adrian and I love the use of the torch to light the foreground. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 😊

    December 27, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    • And the very same to you Mark! Thank you very much! :-)

      December 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm

  18. Herrlich … Leben und Tod … Wiedergeburt

    December 28, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    • Danke schoen Angelique! :-)

      December 28, 2015 at 7:31 pm

  19. I hope you had a great Christmas Adrian…and as for the photo of the ammonites, how I would have liked to have run my finger over the fossil. I love the mysteries of nature, as they give us stories to unravel. Cheers ~

    January 2, 2016 at 4:54 am

    • My appologies for such a late reply Randall! I did indeed have a very good Christmas and hope the same for you. The fossils found in Dorset now have pride of place beneath my monitor sitting on my desk. I find it absolutely amazing to be able to hold the fossilised remains of a creature that lived on this earth so many millions of years ago. Quite mind blowing really! :-)

      January 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm

  20. I hope you had a super Christmas. A very interesting read about a special place.

    January 3, 2016 at 10:36 am

    • Thank you Rachael! :-)

      January 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm

  21. so colorful and great :)

    January 5, 2016 at 8:51 am

  22. Hope you made in 2016 a lot of amazing photo’s

    January 16, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    • I very much hope I will Lou, thank you!

      January 16, 2016 at 9:26 pm

  23. Thinking of doing some walking there in a couple of weeks

    January 26, 2016 at 9:11 am

    • I’m sure you’ll enjoy it very much!

      January 26, 2016 at 9:55 am

      • I did the next section of the coast path between Lulworth and Weymouth 10 days ago.

        January 26, 2016 at 9:59 am

  24. You have beautifully captured Corfe Castle in twilight in this photo. Bears your signature. :-)

    February 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    • Thank you Otto. Corfe Castle is one of those much photographed places that I have visited a number of times. I’ve yet to capture the picture I have in my mind so I will keep trying. To see the castle lit up however was a bit of a bonus and not a shot I’d very imagined capturing so I consider these a bonus in pursuit of that picture.

      February 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm

  25. The way you captured the lights from the hill top is truly an art.

    February 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    • Thank you Kaitlynn. I’m glad you enjoyed these images of Corfe Castle.

      February 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  26. My memories...

    So beautiful! 😀

    February 28, 2016 at 12:14 am

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      February 28, 2016 at 5:24 pm