Corfe Castle Model Village, Isle of Purbeck

Corfe Castle Model Village, Isle of Purbeck

Personally, I will not rest until every model village in Britain is catalogued on Nothing To See Here. So here's another: Corfe Castle Model Village on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The remarkable thing about this is that it's a faithful recreation of the real village of Corfe Castle. So as you walk down the miniature main street it's fun to figure out where you are, in the real world, as it were. The best bit is that one of the miniature houses has a model of the model village in its model back garden. For a moment I thought I would look into the model model village and see a tiny version of myself looking at an even smaller model and so on, into infinity but that’s a bit much to ask. The miniature village itself is quite an achievement without playing with space and time.

Opened in 1966 and built to 1/20 scale, the model village shows how the rather imposing Corfe Castle would have looked like in 1646, before it was destroyed by Cromwell's armies. The model castle, built on a manmade mound, contrasts nicely with the actual size one, which sits on a hill nearby. Both are very imposing and dominate the landscape around them. The detail, as with all model villages, is staggering. It must have seemed like a great idea, but taking two whole years to build, it’s amazing the novelty didn’t wear off before it was finished. Most people don’t have the patience to finish a model aeroplane, never mind build something of this scale.

The village was the brainchild of Eddie Holland, a local businessman. Many of the houses were built by Jack Phillips, a local builder who made genuine Purbeck stone roofs with teeny tiny tiles. As well as the village, there is a larger scale "village punishment area for scoundrels" with stocks and pillories (I didn't know the difference before I visited - there you go, it's educational). And to confuse matters even further there are some outsize games - a giant chess set and some huge Connect 4.

If you want to bide a wee, there's a cafe with a nice terrace outside. We were so enthused that we walked up to the real castle. Visiting the model acts as a nice introduction. I felt more connected to it as a historical artefact, with a better mental picture of how it would have been in its heyday. The strange thing is that once you get up that enormous hill, the real village looks just like a model. Deja vu or what?

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