Laura’s London: Laura Visits Enid Blyton Country and Corfe Castle in Dorset

The children’s author Enid Blyton was born in south London and holidayed in Dorset three times a year for about twenty years. These happy trips inspired the ‘Famous Five’ series about siblings Julian, Dick and Ann, plus George (a tomboy who refused to be known as Georgina) and her dog, Timmy.

Famous Five at Corfe Castle Railway Station

The series is sometimes criticised as escapism and for portraying a safe, middle-class world but as 3 million children were evacuated from London during the war, times were tough and children needed stories like these. Enid Blyton died in 1968 but affection for her stories has not waned, especially as nowadays it is no longer possible to allow children to go exploring on their own but when the books were written this was commonplace.

Enid Blyton’s 115th Birthday Party

I visited Dorset for an Enid Blyton birthday celebration at Corfe Castle. There was storytelling in the castle grounds, children’s activities and fairground music in the background. There were families everywhere – outdoorsy, barefoot-on-the-grass, unbrushed hair, homemade-picnic type families and not the supermarket-bought-sandwiches, expensive brand name picnic blankets and fear-of-dirt urban families I know well in London.

Corfe Castle grounds with the Enid Blyton celebrations

Corfe Castle is a 21 metre (69ft) high ruined Norman castle perched on top of a 55 metre (180ft) mound. (For a London connection, the Tower of London is the only surviving Norman castle in London). Corfe Castle was destroyed in 1646 and many of the surrounding buildings were built from the stone. Corfe Castle is now managed by the National Trust and was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five series.

The ‘Famous Five’ and Corfe Castle. Yes, an excellent photo opportunity.

The 70th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books has brought the launch of The Famous Five Adventure Trail which includes locations she knew well such as Swanage Pier, Swanage Steam Railway and Blue Pool. The trail is an extension of the 1948 book Five on Kirrin Island Again.

Swanage Pier

Swanage Pier was built at the end of the 19th century and has been voted Pier of the Year 2012. This English seaside town with a sandy beach and Punch & Judy is where Enid Blyton liked to holiday with her family and the sleepy town is still in a happy time warp. (Photo credit: jackharrybill)

Corfe Castle Railway Station – see the steam train just leaving and the Guards posing for photos.

Swanage Railway opened in 1885 and closed in 1972. Since then it has been restored by enthusiasts and a steam train connects six miles of beautiful countryside from Swanage to Norden, passing Corfe Castle.

Corfe Castle village

The Ginger Pop Shop in The Square at Corfe Castle village is a small but well-stocked shop for Enid Blyton fans and lovers of English nostalgia.

Blue Pool in Dorset

The lovely lady at The Blue Pool & Tearoom is in her 80s and bakes hundreds of scones every day. She estimates she makes 10,000 scones a year and all are mixed by hand as she doesn’t like the sound of a food mixer. We enjoyed a Dorset cream tea with her misshapen scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam (preserve) in the Tearoom before a walk around the Blue Pool which is a lovely location for some quiet time with nature that has been popular for generations. It was a hand-dug clay pit but is now full of rainwater which is a stunning deep turquoise.

Dorset is a wonderful part of the world (I know Jonathan and Jackie will agree!) and I hope to return again soon for more lashings of ginger beer and nostalgia.

Photo Gallery

Key Info about Corfe Castle

Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfecastle

Time: March: 10am-5pm / April to Sept: 10am-6pm /
Oct: 10am-5pm / Nov to Feb: 10am-4pm

Address: Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5EZ

Phone: +44 (0)1929 481294

Costs: Adult £7.72 /child £3.86 / Family ticket: £19.31 / Family (1 adult): £11.59

Getting there: Train from London Waterloo to Wareham is under 2.5 hours, then get a cab for the last 4.5 miles. If you choose to drive, there’s a park and ride at Norden station then you can catch the Swanage Steam Railway for 5 minutes to Corfe Castle station.

Comments

  1. avatar says

    Excellent article and some fine photographs of Corfe Castle as well.

    We missed the celebrations unfortunately as we were on our way back from Florida, but I grew up in Poole and Corfe Castle and The Purbecks have always held a fascination for me. It was only in the last 10 years that I found out my favourite author growing up, Enid Blyton, spent so much time there. No wonder I loved The Famous Five.

    For fans of Enid Blyton, The Ginger Pop Shop in Corfe Castle village is well worth a visit, there is an awful lot packed into a small shop, and if you have the time, I highly recommend a trip to nearby Poole Quay and Eileen Soper’s Illustrated Worlds, which is next door to the famous Poole Pottery. Eileen Soper illustrated many of Enid Blyton’s books, including the first of The Famous Five books, and this is a wonderful place for adults and children, with a mystery to solve, and lots of memorabilia from the 1940′s to 1960′s.

    Even if you are not a fan of Enid Blyton, Corfe Castle and Dorset’s Jurrassic Coast are a great area to take a holday, there is so much to see and do.

  2. avatarNik says

    My favourite part of the world! Glad you enjoyed it as much as I do! Another wonderful spot is Dancing Ledge, it’s a bit of a climb down to get there but it is on the coast and has a swimming pool hewn out of rock. My favourite spot on all earth! PS Don’t tell everyone about it though…

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