DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF BROWNSEA ISLAND
Just a short and enjoyable boat trip from Poole or Bournemouth, the charm of the landscape, the rich variety of wildlife and an intriguing heritage, make Brownsea a fascinating place to visit.
There you will discover the peace, tranquillity and a unique atmosphere that is Brownsea Island. A beautiful 500 acre island of heath and woodland for all to enjoy. Approximately 1.5 miles long by 0.75 miles wide. There are many specially marked nature and explorer trails; woodland walks, open glades for picnicking and magnificent views across the harbour, the Purbeck Hills and Studland Bay.
There is also the 200 acre nature reserve managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust Guide and Self-guided tours at fixed times.
THE BROWNSEA ISLAND STORY
Over the centuries Brownsea has had a remarkably varied History, military stronghold, industrial site, refuge for wildlife and Edwardian society. It has been pillaged by Viking raiders and blitzed by Nazi bombers. In the 19th century Brownsea was extensively mined for china clay. Its pottery brought settlers, who formed a close island community with its own school and brass band. They were evicted by its last owner and the island returned to nature.
In April 1961 Mrs Bonham-Chistie the owner of Brownsea died at the age of 98. Her grandson was obliged to put the island on the market to meet death duties. After the Treasury had accepted the island in lieu of death duties, the National Trust agreed to take over responsibility for it, provided that an endowment of £100,000 was raised.
A nation-wide campaign was launched to save the island, and sums large and small came in from local businesses and individuals, charitable trusts and Scouts organisations. The John Lewis Partnership was a particularly generous donor, which also repaired Brownsea Castle and rented it from the Trust as a hotel for its employees. By May 1962 the money had been raised and Brownsea was safe.
Through the severe winter of 1962-3 the new Head Warden, Alan Bromby, worked with numerous volunteers to prepare the island for visitors. Tracks were cleared through the remnant rhododendrons and firebreaks cut to prevent repetition of the disastrous fire of 1934. On 15 May on a brilliant summerís day the Island celebrated itís formal opening ceremony, included were two of those who had taken part in the first Scout camp 55 years before.