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Where not to go in Corfe Castle

I dunno… should the profusion of chalk boards have given it away?

I don’t do that many pub reviews on this blog, but whenever I’m either amazed or appalled by a pub experience, I feel a duty to share it.
Sadly, the appalling experiences seem to be winning at the moment, though I do have an amazing one I’m way overdue writing up.
Was on the Isle of Purbeck around Swanage at the weekend for a friend’s 40th.  We visited Corfe Castle, actually an idyllic National Trust tourist trap village sitting in the shadow of said ruined castle. A brilliant model village was terrorised by Captain.  It was a model of the village we were in, and sure enough, on the model we could find our location and there was a tiny model village, and inside that, at the same spot, was a microscopic model village, and that made me wonder whether we were in fact inside a giant model village ourselves, with someone looking down on us…
So anyway, metaphysically confused, we skipped the (fantastic looking) cream tea and went straight to the pub for lunch.
Now, you’re going to get all wise on me and ask me what I expected, going to an old stone-built pub in the middle of a touristy village owned by the National Trust.  Well, I was expecting something roughly equivalent to what you get in, say, a Nicholson’s pub in the West End of London – indifferent, little atmosphere, nothing very inspiring, mildly overpriced, but perfectly OK quality and not that much you could actually complain about, and every now and again you get one that for some reason is actually quite brilliant.
The Bankes Arms Hotel, on the other hand, cynically takes the piss, knowing that only tourists drink there, so it doesn’t matter if you leave feeling angry, ripped off, and probably still hungry.
The beer was fine actually – a couple of brews from local brewery Ringwood, which were perfectly well-kept.  But alarm bells should have rung when the only wine available was in little 175ml bottles – one red, one white, one rose.  Mrs PBBB had the rose.  It tasted of petrol.  
Undaunted, we ordered food. 
You may think it’s impressive that three different meals could be served just five minutes after ordering, on a busy Sunday lunch time.  I don’t – you can’t cook three meals in five minutes.
BLTP’s crab sandwich cost £8.  The bread was stale.
Mrs PBBB had a Sunday roast for £9 which was quite clearly a packet/boil in the bag affair.  This meat had not been cooked or carved on the premises – and maybe not even that year – and the vegetables were a mushy mess.
But I made the biggest screw-up: as we were on the coast I went for one of the seafood specials.  The scallops were utterly tasteless and served up in so much butter I felt sick after eating.  The chips they came with were dry, hollow, oven chips.  And the salad was drenched in so much cheap, sweet, bottled French Dressing it was utterly inedible.  And what did I pay for this?  £17.  Seventeen.  Fucking.  Pounds.  That’s more expensive than half of the main courses at J Sheekey’s, one of the most famous fish restaurants in the world, in Covent Garden.
One of the most grimly satisfying aspects of being in the privileged position where people actually read this blog is having the chance to name and shame those who are an insult to the pub industry.  Do go to Corfe Castle, it’s lovely.  But don’t go to the Bankes Arms Hotel.  And do feel free to point to this blog as the reason why.
Oh yes, the other place to avoid – the Ginger Pop shop is an Enid Blyton themed shop that sounds just about perfect.  I desperately wanted to go in, until BLTP showed me the photos he’d taken of the window display… featuring golliwogs.  Even the Blyton estate have removed golliwogs from her books, recognising that they belonged to an earlier, less enlightened age.  The only other people I know still selling golliwogs are the racist BNP.  Go figure.




You forgot about the Tortilla chips with my sandwich. I posted a review on "beer in the evening" most of the other reviews are poor for the Bankes Arms.
People should go to Corfe(especially the model village) you could get your own lunch as that shop sold bottled beer and local pasties and there was also a bakers.

Adrian Tierney-Jones

That sort of crap makes me so angry (along with a Brakes van parked outside) — it’s not rocket science to offer good food and service — the sort of people who run pubs like this should be drummed out of the trade, mind you, the sort of people that enjoy this sort of 1970s England Berni Inn experience probably have MUG written on their foreheads.

Nick King


I could be barking up the wrong tree here but I think you might have linked to the wrong establishment. The link goes to The Bankes Arms Country Inn which is in Swanage just down the road and not the Bankes Arms Hotel which by my reckoning is http://www.dorset-hotel.co.uk. which is reviewed by BLTP.
Mind you that one, oh hang about..the one in Swanage not Corfe Castle, doesn't appear to have too many glowing reviews on "beer in the evening" either. When I went to the one in Swanage a few years ago it was rather nice, however I had just been drenched in a cloud burst and they had an open fire so I could have been unduly biased.


As a matter of interest BLTP nearly lost his life outside that pub. We visited it as a family nearly 40 years ago and Chris ran out in front of a car that really had to brake very sharply.


After bitter experience, if there is anything less than satisfactory in a touristy place about the way drinks are served, I do not order food.

Gareth Skyrim

My daughter works there you pricks……. Its a lovely place… Always has been. Have you not got anything better to do. Infact please tell what you do for a living..i bet i could pick holes in your results you inconsiderate twat.. Dorset is the best kept and most beautiful part of our country but if you prefer smog covered london well fucking stay there….


Gareth, you do realise this review is over four years old, right? Was your daughter working there in the summer of 2009?

Either way, I've given clear reasons why I believed the food and the service was utter shite. In return you've just been abusive with no basis and no counter-argument.

I think that makes you the twat here, mate.


Pete brown what a wanker, obviously no sense of culture. Another tossed who sucks off the yuppee brigade and thinks London is a trendy place when it's a multi culturally fucked up piss hole. Stay there instead u toss


Im local, I found it quite amusing and to be honest I rarely goto the banks but it has recently changed hands (again).

Kernow Lad

Just been to the Bankes Arms,Corfe Castle and it has been totally refurbished with new landlord. Taken over 18 months to refurbish it. Nice decor, friendly landlord, Chris, and a good selection of draught real ales and wines. not many lagers (2 I think). The restaurant is not open yet but anticipates week commencing 21/12/15.

Their rooms have also been modernised converting 10 rooms into 8 with ensuite.

Worth a visit now

Trev & Paul

Recently visited.
Had a few drinks, staff very polite pub very clean.
What more do you want.


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