Visit Swanage and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Swanage, Dorset , is a cosy, not-too-big resort on a marvellous bay of yellow sands and white cliffs, flanked by downs grand for walking and views. It is about the only place between Poole and Weymouth where you can get a car right next to a really good beach.
It seems to have begun life as an Anglo-Saxon port often raided by Danes. A column on the sea-front, curiously topped by cannon-balls, commemorates King Alfred's rout of a Danish fleet in the bay in 877, many of the enemy being wrecked on Peveril Point, just beyond the pier. Later its main business became quarrying and shipping Purbeck marble from the hills and cliffs immediately South and West. The arrival of the railways in the 19th century opened the way to resorthood. Big local attractions are the Great Globe, a 40-ton Portland stone model of the world at Durlston Head, about 1 mile South, and the Tilly Whim Caves, an old cliff quarry, smugglers' hide and source of remarkable fossils, ¼ mile further on, near the Anvil Point lighthouse which can also often be visited. The cliffs here are particularly grand, too, and it is well worth walking on West about 11 miles to the strange rock platform called the Dancing Ledge. Another equally good walk is from the other end of the town North, past the Elizabethan Whitecliffe Farm, over Ballard Down to above where the chalk spires known as Old Harry Rocks jut from the sea (about 2 miles each way from the nearest road point).
Of the town itself, the oldest and most attractive part is about ¼ mile inland off the High Street, round the Mill Pond and St Mary's Church, which is mainly Victorian, but whose tower was perhaps originally a fort, begun by Anglo-Saxons. Nearby, the Town Hall is remarkable for having a façade designed, though not for it, by Wren in 1670. This came in 1883 from the predecessor to the present Mercers' Hall in London and was one of several remarkable gifts to the town in the 19th century by the Burt and Mowlem families, whose contracting business gave them the chance of such acquisitions. Another was the Clock Tower, near the pier, which was moved from the southern end of London Bridge in 1867, another the Great Globe. They also built, in 1876, the substantial Purbeck House, almost opposite the Town Hall, behind which is a little lock-up built in 1803 “the prevention of vice and immorality”.
Near Peveril Point, the lifeboat, modern and of frequent service, can often be inspected. Examples of marble quarries, now worked only on a very small scale, and of grey quarrymen's cottages can be well seen about 2 miles West between Langton and Worth Matravers.
Nearby towns: Corfe Castle, Poole, Wareham
Nearby villages: Arne, Bloxworth, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Canford Cliffs, Christchurch, Corfe Castle, Hamworthy, Holdenhurst, Holton Heath, Kimmeridge, Langton Matravers, Lytchett Minster, Parkstone, Poole, Southbourne, Stoborough, Studland, Tyneham, Ulwell, Wareham, Worth Matravers
Have you decided to visit Swanage or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Swanage bed and breakfast (a Swanage B&B or Swanage b and b)
- a Swanage guesthouse
- a Swanage hotel (or motel)
- a Swanage self-catering establishment, or
- other Swanage accommodation