Corfe Castle
and the Restoration

The Commonwealth
   
     For 11 years after the death of King Charles I England was governed by Oliver Cromwell, and his Major-Generals.  Cromwell refused the title of king but was to wear purple velvet and ermine robes when he was installed as Lord Protector in 1653 and 1657, he even sat on the Coronation Chair and held a scepter and sword.
        On his death on 3rd September 1658 he was succeeded by his son Richard (Tumbledown Dick.)  Richard had neither the ruthlessness nor the prestige to control the army and he and his Parliament were expelled in May 1659.
        England now fell into the power of the army controlled 'Committee of Safety'.  As the country degenerated into all but a new civil war Major General George Monk crossed the Scottish border and marched south.  Monk arrived at London as a saviour.  He hesitated, possibly planning to become the next Lord Protector, before formally inviting King Charles II to take back his throne.
Restoration
   
     While not a popular decision with many of the army officers the bleak, and harsh, austerity of the Protectorate had alienated the most English people and  the relief of the majority of the nation was enormous.
        King Charles II after his many years in exile brought back much of the gaiety of the Elizabethan age, but  he also exacted retribution on those who had executed his father.  Whilst he had been crowned at Scone, Scotland, 1st January 1651 he was again crowned on 23 April 1661 at Westminster.
   
     Lady Bankes lived to see the day.  Her son, Sir Ralph Bankes, was restored to the family estates.  Sir Walter Erle and John Bingham, Parliamentary commanders of the first and second sieges, were Members of Parliament for Dorset in the 1659-60 Parliament.  Sir Ralph Bankes was MP for Corfe Castle in the same Parliament.
           
Due to its destruction it wasn’t practicable for the Bankes family to re-establish a family home at Corfe, so while living in temporary accommodation at Chettle, they built a brand new home Kingston Lacy House. near Wimborne. 
Bankes spent many weary months trying to trace and to obtain possession of items which had been 'liberated' from the Castle for this home.
        In October 1660 he was told 'some of the greatest timber was carried to Sutton, to Mr Denis Dond's farm' also that 'not a little timber and stone was used about the George Inn.'  He had no luck with Erle, now 75, who professed not to know anything about such doings.  With Bingham he was more fortunate recovering 'a large bed, a singel velvit red chair, and a sute of fine demask '
   
     Corfe Castle still majestically stands where it has always done, possibly the most spectacular ruins from the Civil War in the country, and the fine ruins are open to the public.  The village, which is named after the castle, has a lovely model that shows how the Castle looked before it was blown up by the Parliamentarians.
             Corfe Castle, the Rings siege-works, which are from the time of King Stephen's siege, most of the village of Corfe and the Kingston Lacy estate, in total 25 square miles of Dorset, were left to the National Trust on 19 August 1981 on the death of Henry John Ralph Bankes, possibly the largest bequest that the National Trust has ever had.