HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Brownsea Castle

Hob Uid: 457504
Location :
Dorset
Studland
Grid Ref : SZ0305308764
Summary : Brownsea Castle, now a country house, was rebuilt on the site of a small Henrician coastal artillery fort or blockhouse, built between 1545-47 by Henry VIII as part of his network of coastal defences to protect against French and Spanish invasion. The fort was refortified during the Civil War by the Parliamentarians and was then bought and converted into a country house in 1726. In the mid-19th century the house was remodelled and a new Tudor style facade, gatehouse and pier built. This was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1897. Any remains of the original castle are now in the basement of the house, though sections of the later house reflect its original structure.Although nothing remains on the surface of the original Henrician blockhouse, its physical aspect can be interpreted from a 1597 map of Poole Harbour. It consisted of a square single-storey stone building surrounded on three sides by a moat with a hexagonal gun platform on the seaward side which was enclosed by a low wall.The original country house was built in 1727 and incorporated the remains of the blockhouse into its structure. The building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1897 by the architect Philip Brown of Southampton. The exterior of the house is mostly in the Victorian Tudor style with an irregular plan and profile. It is dominated by a tower which was built off the original blockhouse. The main building is part two-storeys and part three-storeys and has a tower which rises a further two storeys. Facing the sea is a two-storey building dating to circa 1850 in front of the tower. The walls are part coursed with squared rough ashlar stone, and part brick with stone dressings. The roofs have battlemented parapets.
More information : (SZ 03058764) Branksea Castle on site of (NAT) Castle (NR). (1)

Brownsea or Branksea Castle is now in general aspect a building of the later 19th century but it contains, more or less concealed in the basement, the greater part of Henry VIII's coastal fort of 1547-8 with 18th and early 19th century extensions which were added after its conversion into a residence, circa 1718.

The original 16th century fort is shown in a detailed view and
plan inset on a map of Poole Harbour dated 1597 (see source 4) and evidently consisted of a square single-storey stone building surrounded on three sides by a moat with a hexagonal gun platform on the fourth, seaward side, enclosed by a low wall.

The entrance was in the south west side approached across the moat over a drawbridge.

The castle was severely damaged by fire in 1892 and was largely refaced and extended in 1897. Grade II. Now the property of the National Trust. (2-4)

Brownsea Castle. Grade II.
Country House incorporating a 1548 blockhouse and gun
platform. The building was raised and extended c1765, and again in the early and mid 19th C. The building was gutted by fire and part rebuilt in 1897 through designs by the architect Philip Brown
of Southampton. The walls are part coursed with squared rough ashlar stone, and part brick with stone dressings. The roofs are flat with battlemented parapets.
The exterior is mostly in the Victorian Tudor style with an irregular plan and profile which is dominated by a tower which was built off the original blockhouse. The main building is part 2-storeys and part 3-storeys. It has a tower which rises a further 2 storeys. Facing the sea is a 2-storey building of c1850 in front of the tower.
The interior largely dates to 1897 and has various rooms with good panelling and ornamental ceilings. The first floor room has a C16 stone fireplace surround, reset, with lion head and foot consoles. (5)

Brownsea Castle was built between 1545 and 1547 as part of a general castle building programme along the Dorset coast. Originally intended as a two-storeyed structure, it is clear that as late as 1572, the castle was incomplete as the second storey had not been built. In 1584, £200 was spent on raising the walls a further four feet, high enough to be capped by a parapet. (6)

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries Brownsea Island passed from Cerne Abbey to Henry VIII and he constructed one of a number of blockhouses to defend the south coast of England against invasion from Europe. Documents of the time indicate that the townspeople of Poole were ordered to maintain a permanent garrison at the fort. By 1576 the fort had fallen into ruin, however, during the English Civil War, 1642-51, Brownsea Castle was strongly refortified by the Parliamentarians. In 1660 it was owned by Robert Clayton and then in 1726 it was bought for £300 by William Benson. He dismantled the old fortifications and rebuilt his own country estate style castle. In the mid-19th century the castle was remodelled and a new Tudor style facade, gatehouse with clocktower, and a pier with castellated watchtowers was built,
After the fire in 1896 which gutted the house the castle was rebuilt and during the Edwardian period it was owned by the van Raalte family as their country retreat. The castle and island were very prosperous and one famous visitor was Guglielmo Marconi, who carried out his experiments with wireless telegraphy.
In 1962-3 the Island was bought by the National Trust and is run as one of their properties. (7)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1963
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset. Volume two : south-east [in three parts]
Source details :
Page(s) : 279-81
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Wareham and Purbeck RD Jan 1952 37
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Antiquities of Brownsea Island 1968 Plans Illusts (National Trust)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : DOE (HHR) Dorset. Purbeck District Dec-1984
Page(s) : 24
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 465-72
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : The National Trust. 2009. History of Brownsea Island, [Accessed 31-MAR-2009]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Rebuilt 1727
Monument End Date : 1727
Monument Start Date : 1727
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Built 1545-1547
Monument End Date : 1547
Monument Start Date : 1545
Monument Type : Artillery Castle, Blockhouse
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Victorian
Display Date : Rebuilt after fire 1897
Monument End Date : 1897
Monument Start Date : 1897
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 109073
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SZ 08 NW 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, BROWNSEA CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31