MORE than 1,500 castles have been built in England's long and bloody history - here are five that you have to visit in Dorset. 

With England in a state of civil war and unrest for much of its history, especially during the Middle Ages, castles sprung up all over the country. 

As lords and kings feuded over land and revolted, castles were built as a means of protection and to control lands. 

Our incredible castles were used as much more than just a pawn for the nobles, each was home to hundreds of settlers and peasants with a rich, strange and often bloody history. 

In total there are nine castles in Dorset, here's a look at some of them:

Lulworth Castle

Dorset Echo:

Lulworth Castle is open for all to visit (Echo).

Built between 1606 and 1610 Lulworth Castle was primarily as a hunting lodge, but has subsequently played host to five reigning monarchs. 

The castle was even seized by the Roundheads during the English Civil War, who used it as a garrison. 

The castle has been owned by the Weld family since Humphrey Weld returned after the Civil War in 1651. It stood as a ruin for nearly 70 years following a disastrous fire in August 1929, which raged for three days, gutting the interior.

Restoration work was finally secured by English Heritage, who returned the exterior to its original state.

Corfe Castle

Dorset Echo:

Sunrise at Corfe Castle by Richard Murgatroyd

The mighty Corfe Castle has stood tall overlooking the village of Corfe for a thousand years.

The castle has been a Saxon stronghold, a Norman fortress, a royal palace and a family home.

It was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century and has a myriad of dark and grisly tales - if only the walls could speak.

During the English Civil War, the Bankes family who owned the castle at this point were supported by King Charles I (Cavaliers) against Oliver Cromwell (Roundheads).

The Roundheads gave orders that anyone joining the garrison (defence of the castle) would have their house burned and that no supplies were to reach the castle.

Initially defended by just five people, Lady Bankes was able to get food through and swell the garrison to 80.  

Lady Bankes defended it bravely during not just one, but two sieges, until finally she was betrayed by one of her own soldiers.

Have you ever wondered why the castle no longer stands as one? 

After 600 years of keeping enemies at bay, an Act of Parliament was passed that saw Corfe Castle demolished, or partly so - using gun powder in a similar fashion to that of Guy Fawkes' plan.  

Now owned by the National Trust it was donated by Ralph Bankes in 1982 and is one of the Trust's most generous gifts. 

Corfe Castle is open to the public all year round, with re-enactments and tour telling you all of the jaw-dropping tales from within the castle walls.

Highcliffe Castle

Dorset Echo:

Highcliffe castle was built for the diplomat Lord Stuart de Rothesay between 1831 and 1836 using materials salvaged form French medieval buildings, including stone gargoyles and coloured glass windows.

It has been described as arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

Among those who visited were prime minister William Gladstone; the future Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales; author Nancy Mitford; and Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm, who came for a “rest cure” in 1907.

The Castle remained a family home until the 1950s but unfortunately a pair of devastating fires in the 1960s left Highcliffe Castle a roofless ruin which in turn left the Castle uninhabited for years.

After a huge repair conservation programme in the 1990s the castle is now well worth a visit where you can bring to life its rich history.

Sherborne Castle 

Dorset Echo:

Dorset Landmark. Sherborne Castle viewed from the Old Sherborne Castle. 030908, Picture: GRAHAM HUNT/HG3914.

Built in 1594 by Sir Walter Raleigh, he originally called it Sherborne Lodge to distinguish it from the old 12th century castle nearby.

The renowned landscaped gardens and lake were even designed by esteemed architect Capability Brown.

After Sir Walter Raleigh was executed for alleged treason his estates were forfeited to the crown.

King James I allowed Sir John Digby to purchase Sherborne Castle in 1617 and it has remains in the same family to this day.

Visit the Castle and view the rich interiors with nationally important collections of art, furniture and porcelain together with the original kitchen, family artefacts and archaeological finds from the old medieval castle on view in the Castle cellars.