The castle and piers on Brownsea Island
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Brownsea Island (also archaically known as Branksea) is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour in the county of Dorset, England. The island is owned by the National Trust with the northern half managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Much of the island is open to the public and includes areas of woodland and heath with a wide variety of wildlife, together with cliff top views across Poole Harbour and the Isle of Purbeck.
The island was the location of an experimental camp in 1907 that led to the formation of the Scout movement the following year. Access is by public ferry or private boat; in 2017 the island received 133,340 visitors.The island's name comes from Anglo-Saxon Brūnoces īeg = "Brūnoc's island".
Brownsea Island lies in Poole Harbour opposite the town of Poole in Dorset, England. It is the largest of eight islands in the harbour. The island can be reached by one of the public ferries or by private boat. There is a wharf and a small dock near the main castle. The island is 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) long and 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) wide and consists of 500 acres (200 ha) of woodland (pine and oak), heathland and salt-marsh.
The entire island, except the church and a few other buildings which are leased or managed by third parties, is owned by the National Trust. Most of the buildings are situated near the small landing stage. The northern portion of the island is a Nature Reserve managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust and an important habitat for birds; this part of the island has limited public access. A small portion to the southeast of the island, along with Brownsea Castle, is leased to the John Lewis Partnership for use as a holiday hotel for staff, and is not open to the public.
The island forms part of the Studland civil parish in the Purbeck local government district. It is within the South Dorset constituency of the House of Commons and the South West England constituency of the European Parliament.
Brownsea Island has built up on a bare sand and mud bank deposited in the shallow harbour. Ecological succession has taken place on the island to create topsoil able to support ecosystems.
The nature reserve on the island is leased from the National Trust by Dorset Wildlife Trust. This reserve includes a brackish lagoon and area of woodland. Other ecosystems on the island include salt marsh, reedbed, two freshwater lakes, alder carr, coniferous woodland, deciduous woodland and arboretum. In the past invasive species such as rhododendrons, also non-native, were introduced to the island, but the trusts have cleared many areas.The entire island is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The island is one of the few places in southern England where indigenous red squirrels survive, largely because non-native grey squirrels have never been introduced to the island. The Brownsea red squirrel population is the only population known in the UK to carry the human form of the bacteria stem Mycobacterium leprae that causes leprosy in humans.Brownsea also has a small ornamental population of peacocks. The island has a heronry, in which both grey heron and little egret nest.
There is a large population of non-native sika deer on the island. In the past the numbers have been higher than the island can sustain and have overgrazed. To try to limit damage to trees and other vegetation by deer, areas of the island have been fenced off to provide areas of undamaged woodland to allow other species such as red squirrels to thrive.
The lagoon is noted for the large population of common tern and sandwich tern in summer, and a very large flock of avocets in winter, when more than 50 per cent of the British population (over 1500) can be present.
Some imported stonework and statuary on the island serves as a habitat for a Mediterranean land snail, Papillifera bidens .
The first records of inhabitants on Brownsea Island occurred in the 9th century, when a small chapel and hermitage were built by monks from Cerne Abbey near Dorchester. The chapel was dedicated to St Andrew and the only resident of the island was a hermit, who may have administered to the spiritual welfare of sailors passing through Poole Harbour. In 1015, Canute led a Viking raid to the harbour and used Brownsea as a base to sack Wareham and Cerne Abbey.In the 11th century the owner of the island was Bruno, who was Lord of the Manor of Studland. Following his invasion of England, William the Conqueror gave Studland, which included Brownsea, to his half-brother, Robert de Mortain. In 1154, King Henry II granted the Abbot of Cerne the right of wreck for the island and the abbey continued to control the interests of Brownsea for the following 350 years.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, control of Brownsea passed to the Crown. Henry VIII recognised the island's strategic importance of guarding the narrow entrance to the expanding port of Poole. As part of a deterrent to invasion forces from Europe, the island was fortified in 1547 by means of a blockhouse, which became known as Brownsea Castle. In the following centuries, the island passed into the hands of a succession of various owners. In 1576, Queen Elizabeth I made a gift of Brownsea to one of her court favourites and rumoured lover, Sir Christopher Hatton.During the English Civil War, Poole sided with Parliament and garrisoned Brownsea Castle. Colonel Thomas Pride, the instigator of Pride's Purge– the only military coup d'état in English history – was stationed on the island in 1654. Sir Robert Clayton, a Lord Mayor of the City of London and wealthy merchant became owner in the mid-1650s and after his death in 1707 the island was sold to William Benson, a Whig Member of Parliament and architect. He converted the castle into a residence and was responsible for introducing many varieties of trees to the island.
In 1765 Sir Humphrey Sturt, a local landowner and MP purchased the island, which in turn passed to his sons. Sturt expanded the castle and records suggest that he spent £50,000 on enhancing the island's gardens.Sir Augustus John Foster, a retired British diplomat, bought the island in 1840. Foster experienced bouts of depression and died in Brownsea Castle in 1848 when he slit his throat. In 1852 Brownsea was again up for sale and was sold for £13,000. It was purchased by William Waugh, a former Colonel in the British Army in the belief he could exploit the white clay deposits on the island to manufacture high-quality porcelain. A three-storey pottery was built in south-west corner of the island together with a tramway to transport the clay from clay pits in the north. He hoped the clay would be of the same quality as the nearby Furzebrook clay, but it turned out to be suitable only for sanitary ware. The company employed more than 200 people, but by 1887 the venture closed owing to a lack of demand and the poor quality of the clay.
Traces of these activities remain today, mainly as building foundations and pottery fragments. Waugh was also responsible for expanding the number of buildings on the island – creating the now ruined village of Maryland (named after Waugh's wife), as well as adding a new gatehouse and tower in the Tudor style. Waugh also paid for the construction of a new pier, adorned with castellated watch towers. Another large expenditure was the construction of St Mary's church, built in the Gothic style, and also named after his wife. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Harry Smith in 1853 and construction was completed a year later. Inside the church there is a monument to Waugh as well as the tomb of the late owner Charles van Raalte. Part of the church is dedicated to the Scouting movement and the flags of the Scout and Girl Guide movements line either side of the main altar.
After falling heavily into debt the Waughs fled to Spain. The island was acquired by creditors and sold in 1873 to George Cavendish-Bentinck, who added Jersey cows to Brownsea and expanded the island's agriculture. He filled the island with several Italian renaissance sculptures, some of which still decorate the church and the quay. The 1881 census recorded a total population of 270 people on the island, the majority of whom provided a labour force for the pottery works.After his death, the island was sold to Kenneth Robert Balfour in 1891. Following the introduction of electric lighting, the castle was gutted by fire in 1896. It was subsequently rebuilt, and in 1901 Balfour put the island up for sale.
The island was purchased by wealthy stockbroker Charles van Raalte who used the island as a residential holiday retreat. During this time the castle was renovated and served as host to famous visitors such as Guglielmo Marconi.Robert Baden-Powell, a close friend of the van Raaltes, hosted an experimental camp for boys on the island in the summer of 1907. Brownsea was largely self-supporting, with a kitchen garden and a dairy herd. Many of the pottery factory workers had stayed on after it closed, farming and working for the owners. Charles van Raalte died in Calcutta in February, 1908 and his wife eventually sold the island in 1925. In 1927 it was purchased at auction by Mary Bonham-Christie for £125,000. A recluse by nature, she ordered a mass eviction of the island's residents to the mainland. Most of the island was abandoned and gradually reverted to natural heath and woodland. In 1934, a wild fire caused devastation after burning for a week. Much of the island was reduced to ashes, and the buildings to the east were only saved by a change of wind direction. Traumatised by the event, Bonham-Christie banned all public access to the island for the rest of her life.
During the Second World War large flares were placed on the western end of the island to mislead Luftwaffe bombers away from the port of Poole. The decoy saved Poole and Bournemouth from 1,000 tonnes (160,000 st) of German bombs, but the deserted village of Maryland was destroyed. In April 1961, Bonham-Christie died at 98 years old and her grandson gave the island to the Treasury to pay her death duties. Concerned the island could be sold to commercial developers, a campaign was started by local conservationist, Helen Brotherton, with the aim of purchasing the island to protect its natural habitats. The National Trust subsequently agreed to take over responsibility for the island if enough funds were raised and in 1962 its purchased Brownsea for £100,000. Work was carried out to prepare the island for visitors; tracks were cleared through areas overgrown with rhododendrons and firebreaks were created to prevent repetition of the 1934 fire. The Dorset Wildlife Trust leased a nature reserve on the north of the island, the Scout and Guide Movements were allowed to return and the castle was renovated and leased to the John Lewis Partnership for use as a staff hotel. The island was opened to the public in May 1963 by Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, the Chief Guide, at a ceremony attended by members of the 1907 camp. Soon after Brownsea Island was opened to the public, it was attracting more than 10,000 visitors a year. Larger boats means that today the island attracts some 110,000 visitors annually.
Since 1964 the island has been host to the Brownsea Open Air Theatre, annually performing the works of William Shakespeare. The island has a visitor centre and museum, displaying the island's history. There is also a newly located shop and cafe, with one holiday cottage on the quay. At the Scout camp at the south-west of the Island there is an outdoor centre and a trading post shop which is focused on the Scout movement.
The Dorset Wildlife Trust operates on the island from The Villa, previously the island vicarage. The island has a single post box that is emptied each day. In October 2008, the island was featured on BBC One's annual Autumnwatch programme.
There is an annual round-the-island swim of 4 1⁄2 miles (7.2 km) run by the RLSS Poole Lifeguards.
From 1 August until 8 August 1907, Robert Baden-Powell held an experimental camp on the island, to test out his Scouting ideas. He gathered 21 boys of mixed social backgrounds (from boys' schools in the London area and a section of boys from the Poole, Parkstone, Hamworthy, Bournemouth, and Winton Boys' Brigade units) and held a week-long camp. 20 hectares (49 acres) Scout camp site was opened in 1963 by Olave Baden-Powell. In August 2007, 100 years after the first experimental camp, Brownsea Island was the focus of worldwide celebrations of the centenary of Scouting. Four camps were set up on the island including a replica of the original 1907 camp, and hundreds of Scouts and Girl Guides from 160 countries travelled to the island to take part in the celebrations. Also present on the Island that day were these 17 descendants of B-P - Robert, Michael; Gill, Robin, Crispin; Natasha; Rosie, Tristram, Louis; Daphne; Buzz, Ossian; Rawley, Branwen; Toby, Annarella; Emily.[ according to whom? ]The boys took part in activities such as camping, observation, woodcraft, chivalry, lifesaving and patriotism. Following the successful camp, Baden-Powell published his first book on the Scouting movement in 1908, Scouting for Boys , and the international Scouting movement grew rapidly. Boy Scouts continued to camp on the island until the 1930s, when all public access to the island was forbidden by the island's owner. After ownership of the island transferred to the National Trust, a permanent
Brownsea Island is twinned with:
The River Frome is a river in Dorset in the south of England. At 30 miles (48 km) long it is the major chalkstream in southwest England. It is navigable upstream from Poole Harbour as far as the town of Wareham.
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 mi) east of Dorchester, and adjoins Bournemouth to the east. Since 1 April 2019 the local authority is Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council which is a unitary authority. Poole had an estimated population of 151,500 making it the second largest town in ceremonial county of Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, Poole has a total population of over 465,000.
Studland is a village and civil parish on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. It is famous for its beaches and nature reserve. It lies within the Purbeck administrative district, and is located about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the town of Swanage, over a steep chalk ridge, and 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the South East Dorset conurbation at Sandbanks, but separated from it by Poole Harbour. The parish includes Brownsea Island within the harbour. In the 2011 census the parish had 182 households and a population of 425, though many of the houses in the village are holiday homes, second homes, or guest houses, and the village's population varies depending upon the season.
The Studland and Godlingston Heaths NNR is located on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. It borders Studland Bay on the south side of Poole Harbour, between the settlements of Swanage and Sandbanks. Extending to 631ha, it is owned and managed by the National Trust following the Bankes bequest of the Kingston Lacy estate. Studland & Godlingston Heath is designated as one of only 35 "spotlight reserves" in England by Natural England in the list of national nature reserves in England and is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Poole Harbour is a large natural harbour in Dorset, southern England, with the town of Poole on its shores. The harbour is a drowned valley (ria) formed at the end of the last ice age and is the estuary of several rivers, the largest being the Frome. The harbour has a long history of human settlement stretching to pre-Roman times. The harbour is extremely shallow, with one main dredged channel through the harbour, from the mouth to Holes Bay.
The Isle of Purbeck is a peninsula in Dorset, England. It is bordered by water on three sides: the English Channel to the south and east, where steep cliffs fall to the sea; and by the marshy lands of the River Frome and Poole Harbour to the north. Its western boundary is less well defined, with some medieval sources placing it at Flower's Barrow above Worbarrow Bay. According to writer and broadcaster Ralph Wightman, Purbeck "is only an island if you accept the barren heaths between Arish Mell and Wareham as cutting off this corner of Dorset as effectively as the sea." The most southerly point is St Alban's Head. Its coastline is suffering from erosion.
Purbeck was a local government district in Dorset, England. The district was named after the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula that forms a large proportion of the district's area. However it extended significantly further north and west than the traditional boundary of the Isle of Purbeck along the River Frome. The district council was based in the town of Wareham, which is itself north of the River Frome.
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) is a wildlife trust covering the county of Dorset, United Kingdom. The trust was founded in 1961 as Dorset Naturalists' Trust, to protect and conserve the wildlife and natural habitats of the county.
The Scouting 2007 Centenary comprised celebrations around the world in which Scouts celebrated 100 years of the world Scout movement. The original celebrations were focused on the United Kingdom, such as the camp on Brownsea Island, the birthplace of Scouting, and the 21st World Scout Jamboree in Chelmsford, Essex.
The Brownsea Island Scout camp began as a boys' camping event on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, southern England, organised by Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell to test his ideas for the book Scouting for Boys. Boys from different social backgrounds participated from 1 to 8 August 1907 in activities around camping, observation, woodcraft, chivalry, lifesaving and patriotism. Recognised as the world's first Scout camp, the event is regarded as the real origin of the worldwide Scout movement.
Green Island is an island in Poole Harbour in the English county of Dorset. It lies in the central south part of the harbour, south of Brownsea Island and Furzey Island. The island is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA).
Lilliput is a district of Poole, Dorset. It borders on Sandbanks, Canford Cliffs, Lower Parkstone, and Whitecliff and has a shoreline within Poole Harbour with views of Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills. Brownsea Island stands opposite Lilliput's harbour foreshore and is famous as the birthplace of Baden Powell's International Scouting Movement. Lilliput itself was host to a number of early scouting camps. During the Second World War at one stage it provided Britain's only civilian air route: Poole Harbour was temporary home to the Imperial Airways/BOAC flying boat fleet, which had its passenger HQ at Salterns.
Scouting in South West England is about Scouting in the official region of South West England. It is largely represented by the Scout Association of the United Kingdom and some Groups of traditional Scouting including the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association.
Chums was a boys' weekly newspaper started in 1892 by Cassell & Company and later, from 1927, published by Amalgamated Press. The publisher gathered the weekly paper into monthly and annual editions. The serial ceased publication in 1941.
The Dorset Heaths form an important area of heathland within the Poole Basin in southern England. Much of the area is protected.
The Stonehill Down Nature Reserve is a downland nature reserve on the Purbeck Hills in the county of Dorset, England. It is managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
B-P's footprint is a casting, usually in bronze or brass, of the right foot of Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout and Guide Movements, who is known as "B-P." The idea is that people may put their foot into this casting, so that they can say that they have "walked in the footsteps of B-P."
Brownsea Castle, also known historically as Branksea Castle, was originally a Device Fort constructed by Henry VIII between 1545 and 1547 to protect Poole Harbour in Dorset, England, from the threat of French attack. Located on Brownsea Island, it comprised a stone blockhouse with a hexagonal gun platform. It was garrisoned by the local town with six soldiers and armed with eight artillery pieces. The castle remained in use after the original invasion scare had passed and was occupied by Parliament during the English Civil War of the 1640s. By the end of the century, however, it had fallen into disuse.
Maryland is a deserted village on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, England. It was named for the wife of its founder, Colonel William Petrie Waugh.
Mary Bonham-Christie called "the Demon of Brownsea", was the reclusive owner of Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset from 1927 until her death in 1961.
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