A brief History of Brownsea Island

An Iron Age log boat was found off Brownsea in 1964, it’s now in Poole Museum. From the 9th century a hermit monk from Cerne Abbey had a chapel on Brownsea. Henry VIII had a blockhouse built in 1545, part of his south coat defences. Brownsea Castle was first a private residence in 1726 for William Benson. Sir Humphrey Sturt came in 1765, improved The castle and built the first farm. Sir Charles Chad came in 1817, also improved The Castle and hosted a visit from the Prince of Wales in 1818. In 1842 a Coastguard Station was set up, the Villano café was their headquarters. Colonel Waugh bought the island for £13,000 in 1852 and started developing as he though there were large deposits of clay suitable to make high class table ware. He built St Mary’s Church at a cost of £10,000, a Vicarage, now The Villa, Maryland village, a Pottery on the south shore, improved the Farm Buildings, the Schoolhouse, the Castle and built the sea wall to enclose St Andrews Bay (now the Lagoon). The clay however was only suitable for bricks, drainage pipes and chimney pots and the Waughs fled to Spain bankrupt in 1857 but his legacy remains in the buildings he built, The Church, The Villa (now the HQ of Dorset Wildlife Trust) and the Farm (now the Visitor Centre). Hon Cavendish-Bentinck bought the island in 1873 and kept the Pottery working until 1887. He improved the agriculture but his main passion was art collecting, he filled the Castle with Italian sculpture and some of his collection is still in St Mary’s Church and the churchyard.

Major Kenneth Balfour bought the island in 1891, he introduced Sika Deer from Japan in 1896 and rebuilt The Castle in 1897 as it was destroyed by fire in January http://laparkan.com/buy-sildenafil/ 1896. In 1901 Marcus van Raalte bought Brownsea as a holiday home for his only son Charles. This was a time of Edwardian splendour, as Charles and Florence entertained royalty, Marconi and gave Robert Baden-Powell permission to hold an experimental camp for 20 boys in 1907 which lead to the founding of Scouting in 1908 and Guiding in 1910. After the death of Charles in 1907, his widow Florence started Daffodil growing in 1908. She left the island in 1925 and in 1927, Brownsea was bought by Mrs Mary Florence Bonham Christie as a place where she could live as a recluse. All the islanders were given notice, all the animals were let loose, nature took over and decay set in. A fire in 1934 damaged Maryland Village and half of the island, luckily the Church, the Villa and the castle were not damaged. During the Second World War Brownsea was a prohibited area with Army and Navy personnel stationed there. In 1940, Church Field was a refugee camp for Belgian and Dutch refugees, 3,000 came in 6 weeks. Mrs Bonham Christie died on 28 April 1961, she left the island to her grandson as he couldn’t pay the death duties, in 1962 Brownsea was offered to the National Trust. After much clearance work the island was opened to the public on 15 May 1963 by Lady Baden-Powell, widow of the Founder. John Lewis Partnership lease The Castle as a hotel for their employees and Dorset Wildlife Trust have a Nature reserve. The Church remains the property of the Church of England, ‘an island within an island.’ With so many owners Brownsea has a rich history.