|Sir John Bankes Esq.|
That act of defiance showed what Lady Mary Bankes was made of but she also knew that it was a momentary victory and that the real importance of her position was the castle itself rather than the cannon. The enemy had retreated but were not far away and so she did, ultimately, decide to hand the guns over so that she could gather supplies which would enable her tiny household army to withstand a siege. This was very good planning indeed as not long after, in June of 1643, more Roundheads appeared, this time about 600 of them and laid siege to the castle. This went on for more than a month when the rebels began to feel rather silly being held at bay by a handful of men and some women and children so they began to attack the castle. Once again, Lady Mary, with her household, held off these trespassers by pelting them with stones and fiery embers from the castle walls until, after losing over a hundred men killed or wounded in August, the Roundheads conceded the victory to Lady Mary and pulled back.
|The siege of Corfe Castle|
The time for waiting finally ended in 1646. That year a young royalist officer, named Colonel Cromwell no less, managed to slip inside the castle with a small group of soldiers to offer Lady Mary the chance to escape. She was grateful for any help of course but refused to abandon her home to the enemy and, after all, she had been holding them off well enough for the past few years. However, this second siege would not go on for much longer, though, among her tiny force of children and scullery maids, it was one of the men of the small group of actual soldiers present who was to doom her little outpost. One of the men with her in the castle, one Lt. Colonel Thomas Pittman, slipped outside the castle walls to the enemy camp and offered to betray his King in exchange for his own safety. He persuaded the garrison commander, Colonel Henry Anketell to go to Somerset for reinforcements but the troops that came were Roundheads with their coats turned inside out. About half made it inside before Anketell suspected something and shut the small sally gate. Unfortunately, enough made it inside to secure key positions and hold them until morning when they were joined by a major Parliamentarian attack.
|Modern ruins of Corfe Castle|