The Keys to Corfe Castle

By Linda Sindt

“The Keys to Corfe Castle” is not your ordinary historical romance novel, although there is plenty of history and  a warm touch of romance. In an age of Knights and Castles the starring warrior is -- well – a “Lady.” A very real Lady Mary Hawtrey Bankes inspired a war-weary nation, including even her foes, with her spirited defense of the Castle her husband (a Knight) gave her when England’s world turned upside down 400 years ago. Intensively researched and lavishly illustrated, an abundance of four-centuries-old art treasures now in the public domain authenticate Lady Mary’s saga.

Who better to tell this tale of military daring by – yes -- a Lady – than retired United States Air Force Colonel,  Linda Sindt?  An early trailblazer in toppling barriers to upward mobility for today’s military women, Linda says, “Lady Mary’s voice demands to be heard. In a war that was a prelude to the beginnings of the United States of America, she dared to engage in fierce face-to-face combat with mightily armed Parliamentary forces with her young daughters by her side.  Not exactly a then socially OK role for ‘proper’ Ladies!  Who could blame them? The enemy (their neighbors) not only wanted to destroy their Castle, but to abolish Christmas!”

Lady Mary’s story is one of tender romance in an era of arranged marriages. It exultantly celebrates family at a time of paramount fear and despair.  It is a (slightly) fictionalized but mostly true tale of heartbreaking loss and betrayal – and also of fervent love and hope. The pre-teen to great-grandmother “Ladies” on any gift list will especially enjoy this easy read.

Contact Linda

Lady Mary’s (darling) husband, Sir John Bankes, was  Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, the top legal advisor to King Charles I.  (Portrait by Gilbert Jackson) Sir John was away trying to talk sense into the King when the King’s enemies attacked Corfe Castle. Sir John tried mightly , but ultimately failed to be a moderating voice for both sides.

"Lavishly illustrated, an abundance of four-centuries-old art treasures now in the public domain authenticate Lady Mary's saga."


Royalist calvary attacking at the Battle of Edgehill on 23rd October 1642 in the English Civil War: portrait by Harry Payne.

Battle of Naseby, hand-colored copper engraving by Dupuis after Parrocel, 1727 (from Rapins History)


"Embarking of the Pilgrims," by Robert Weir


Society Woman: Pocahontas by Simon van de Passe, 1616


Roeland Savery's (early orthinologist) sketch of two (soon to become extinct) dodos c. 1626, Crocker Art Gallery. Live dodos were gifts to Lady Mary's family from her world adventuring Uncle Emmanuel)


King James I of England and James VI of Scotland by John de Critz the Elder circa 1606


Portrait of soon to be King Charles I as Prince of Wales, after Daniel Mytens 1623


A Miniature of Queen Henrietta

by John Hoskins

Edward the Martyr, King of England,

“Indian in Body Paint” by John White  early Colonist and Governor of the

“Lost Island of Roanoke” displayed at the British Museum.


"Look upon thy death," Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

April 11, 1661


"Why did you lie to your children? And send them away?"  Clodagh's tear-sparkled green-blue eyes hovered over my face. "They would want to be here, by your side."

I bade my nearby offspring and their families to depart from my bedside yesterday in a parade of gift-laden carriages. They needed to be at their brother's wedding -- not tending to their ailing mother. I longed to go with them. To the grand wedding celebration of my now oldest son, Ralph, in Dorsetshire, so near to the home I once loved with such desperation. Corfe Castle.