Well protected by steep cliffs, today, Corfe Castle in Dorset is not much more than a hollow shell - a shadow of its former self.
In the year 978 AD, long before the present Castle was built, it is said that King Edward the Martyr was murdered at Corfe by his stepmother who wanted to replace him with her own son, Ethelred ‘the Unready’.
Supposedly while stag hunting in the Purbeck forest, Edward visited Corfe, where Elfryda is said to have given him a goblet of wine, then treacherously had someone stab him in the back while he drank it.
The building of Corfe castle was begun by William the Conqueror but it was King John who developed it into a royal residence adding a new Hall, Chapel and outbuildings. Corfe was one of his favourite castles and in the years between 1199 AD and 1216 AD he added greatly to its defences. During his reign the castle was also often used as a prison and many prisoners met their deaths there. In 1572 AD Elizabeth I sold it to her dancing master Sir Christopher Hatton and in 1635 it passed into the ownership of Sir John Bankes the Lord Chief Justice.
At the time of English Civil War, the castle was admirably defended by Lady Bankes until evidently in February 1646 AD she was betrayed by one of her own men and when Cromwell's Parliamentary soldiers took control, they reduced the castle very quickly to the ruin that we see today. Not too many years after this time, stories began to circulate of ghostly occurrences and the most well-known spectral appearance is that of the headless 'White Lady' who sends shivers down the spine of any person who chances upon her before she fades away out of sight.