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Brownsea Castle, Dorsetshire;



The Island of Brownsea is situated at the east end of the Bay of Poole, opposite the entrance, three miles north-west from Studland, and about as far, south-east of Poole. It has also been termed Branksey, Bronksy, Brinksea, quasi Brink of the Sea. The length of the Island is above a mile and a half, the breadth about three-quarters. It is not mentioned in Doomsday Book, but it might then be included in the survey of Studland, and probably some of the Salterns that are said to be in that parish, were upon the shores of this Island. Before this we find it remarkable for the Danes landing here, or retreating hither from Frome Mouth, A.D. 1015; a MS. life of St. Ethelwold, brother of King Edmund, cited in Leland's Collectanea, IV. 65, says, “ Canutus spoliatus Monasterio Cerneliensi, contulit se ad portum, Fruminitham nomine, occidentalis Angliæ, inde navigantes ad Brunkeseiam, hoc est, ad Brunci Insulam.” Leland adds, “ Brunci insula ad 2 m. distat à Pola, et oceano circumdatur, nulla ædificia habet præter sacellum;" thus translated by Coker, Canutus having spoiled the Church and Monastery of Cerne, took to the Haven, and sailed thence to Branksey, i. e. Brank's Island, having in it no buildings save a Chapel only. In 1293 the temporalities of the of the Abbot of Cerne, here, were valued at 5ls. lld.: and the 3rd Edward I. he had a patent, “de wrecca maris,” here. After the dissolution, this island, and the water surrounding it, were granted to John Vere, Earl of Oxford. The 9th of James I. the Island was granted to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury: Leland says, “ there ly three isles in the Haven of Pool, whereof the most famous is Brunkeshey, sum say there has been a Paroch in it. There is yet a chapel for an Heremite. It longith to Cerne Abbey.” The Chapel was dedicated to St. Andrew, of which there are some remains evident.

In the 20th of Eliz. the woods here, except Alum and Chyme Silver, were granted to John Engleby for 21 years. Sir Robert Clayton began here copperas-works; but they were neglected about 1700. Hutchins also observes, that Auditor Benson, at the expense of £200, caused a botanist to collect all the curious plants on the Island, to the number of several hundreds, which were pasted up in the Hall of the Castle.

In 1762, the Island of Brownsea was conveyed to Sir Gerard Napier, and Humphrey Sturt, Esq.; on the death of the former, the whole property devolved to Mr. Sturt, who is said to have expended not less a sum than £50,000 in additions to the Castle, in Plantations, Gardens, and various other improvements.

The Castle stands at the east part of the Island, opposite to the entrance into the Bay of Poole. It was built 20th of Eliz., and Sir Christopher Hatton, Admiral of the Isle of Purbeck, was Governor of the Castle, and had power to muster the inhabitants of the island. Being a key to the Bay, the River Frome, and the towns of Wareham and Poole, it was fortified during the Civil Wars. The Treasurer Bury's accounts mention four large chests of muskets, brought from Weymouth in 1664, and also £60 paid to Captain Hardynge, then Governor of the Castle, for the payment of his men.

Brownsea has, at different periods, been honoured with the presence of Royalty. It appears in the history of Poole, that Charles II., on the 15th September, 1665, attended by the Duke of Monmouth, and a large retinue, went by water from Poole to Brownsea, rowed by six masters of ships; 6 when his majesty took an exact view of the said Island, Castle, and Bay, to his great contentment.” In 1741, Frederick, Prince of Wales, visited the Island, and his late Majesty, when Prince of Wales, (who was received here by Mr. Sturt under a salute of the Castle guns,) expressed himself highly delighted with the romantic beauties of the Island, and is said to have observed, that he had no idea there had been such a spot in the kingdom.

Sir Charles Chad purchased Brownsea Island of Henry Charles Sturt, Esq. in 1817, and he has greatly improved not only the Castle but the Grounds. The principal apartments are a DiningRoom, 37 feet long; a Saloon, 24 feet square, and the same in height: amongst the paintings by



eminent masters, in this Room, is a large Boar Hunt by Ridinger, the more valuable, from its being supposed to be the only performance of that master in this country, except one in the collection of the Earl of Grosvenor. A Room in the shape of a cross, presents views from the four fronts, and is 40 feet long each way; the arms of the cross or recesses form Bed-Chambers and a Staircase. There are also two Drawing-rooms, one of them of very good dimensions. The Billiard-room is 40 feet long, 26 broad, and 16 high. The other family apartments are numerous, convenient, and well arranged. The Walls of the ancient part of the Castle, are 11 feet in thickness.

The walled Gardens enclose three acres, with pineries and green-house. The Bath, which was built at a considerable expense, affords an opportunity of sea-bathing in the greatest perfection. The Grounds are highly diversified and beautiful. Immediately round the Castle, the deer give the lawns all the appearance of park scenery.' The walks and pleasure-grounds are varied and extensive, and nothing can be more picturesque than the views of Corfe Castle, and the Isle of Purbeck. About three-quarters of mile from the Castle, Sir Charles has designed a Pheasantry, which is an enclosure of above three acres, in the centre of which is an ornamented Cottage, where the Keeper resides : the gold, silver, and common pheasants are here seen in a natural state, and in great perfection. Half a mile beyond the Pheasantry, at Seymours, Sir Charles has also built another ornamented Cottage, which commands such a fine view of the Castle, together with the Harbour and Town of Poole, as can only be compared to the beautiful scenes in several parts of Italy,

The distance to the Stables, the nearest opposite point of land, is about half a mile. The passage is seldom attended with the least inconvenience, and never with danger; indeed, nothing can be more independent or complete than the possession of this Island.

We conclude our account of this romantic and interesting spot, with an extract from a work entitled, “ The Curiosities, Natural and Artificial, of the Island of Great Britain ;' making allowance for the date of the work, above 50 years ago, the description is very correct : “ The Isle of Brownsea has been embellished with every thing that can render it agreeable. This spot deserves particular attention from all those who amuse themselves with viewing the numerous works of taste and wealth that ornament their country. It is an island of about 900 acres of land in the midst of 20,000 of water, which is Poole Harbour; a more peculiar spot can hardly be conceived. The high lands of the Isle of Purbeck, and other tracts about Poole, surround this whole space, and land-lock it in on every side. The coasts hang in very bold steeps; all of which Mr. Sturt has planted, to the quantity of a million of trees of various sorts, chiefly firs; so that the hills will be all wood, and the vales lawn. One end of the Island lies directly against the narrow mouth of the Harbour; in this point he has built a beautiful edifice, Brownsea Castle; it is a quadrangular building, light, and admirably suited to the spot : but the views commanded from the windows are inimitable; they look out to sea through the narrow streight to the Harbour's mouth, which is just such a view of the ocean ás is desirable. You there catch the Needles, and the Isle of Wight mountains at a distance, but the circumstance truly picturesque is the shipping; every sail that comes to and from Poole, (a place of great trade,) bends her course in a line up to the Castle, and then tacks through a Channel, half a mile broad, under the very windows. Nothing can be finer than this, while the surrounding coasts are bold. In the front is a battery of ten nine-pounders.

“Sailing round the Island, it offers several beautiful views; the Castle is a noble object. The lawns which Mr. Sturt has laid out to grass, with a few scattered groves of tall trees, with a farm and a cottage or two under them, are as agreeable landscapes as can be seen; and when the woods all get up, the whole will be a glorious scenery.

“In respect to the agreeableness of residence, nothing can exceed this Island. It is full of hares, pheasants, and partridges, and the springs of fresh water are as fine as can any where be met with. When all these circumstances are considered, with the amusements of sailing, fishing, &c. that it is within three miles of Poole, and so truly singular, that no spot resembles it; will any one hesitate to pronounce it one of the most agreeable places in the kingdom ?

Sir Charles Chad, Bart, was born in April, 1779, and was married June, 1810, to Lady Anne Turnour, second daughter of Edward, Earl of Winterton, and has issue a son, Edward Henry, born September, 1811. He succeeded his father, Sir George, November, 1815.

T The principal estates of Sir Charles Chad are in Norfolk, where he has two family residences. Pinkney Hall, which, with the estate, has been in the possession of his maternal ancestors from the early part of the reign of Elizabeth ; and Thursford, which has been described in a preceding Number.”

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