Dorset: Brownsea Island

A short passenger ferry ride from Poole harbour you can find yourself on Brownsea Island. Owned by the National Trust, (so free for members) The castle on the island is leased to John Lewis Partnership as a hotel for their employees. The small castle was built in 1545 – 1547 by King Henry V111 as a fort to protect the Poole harbour. The island was owned by several different entrepreneurs over the years and in 1896 a fire gutted it. A wealthy stockbroker restored it and held his collection of antiques in the castle. In 1927 Mary Bonham-Christie purchased it and moved in she lived on the island until her death in 1961, which was when the National Trust stepped in. Now an island for wildlife and nature reserve. The only other buildings are a small church and a few houses which the National Trust staff have as accommodation. What a wonderful place to live and work.

No vehicles are allowed on the island which makes this unique place of peace and quiet for the wildlife who live here, I was fortunate enough on my trip last year to see a red squirrel, some deer and a peacock. The island is 1 1/2 miles long and 3/4 mile wide and easy enough to walk around, the views looking back onto Poole harbour and the neighbouring islands is worth seeing as much as the wildlife.

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