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Brownsea, Dorset

Historical Description

Brownsea or Branksea, an island and a chapelry in Dorsetshire. The island lies in Poole harbour, 2 miles SSE of Poole, measures about 4 miles in circuit, and forms a romantic group of glens and hillocks, with about 100 acres recently reclaimed from the sea. It is½ mile distant from the Sand Bank, where is a very beautiful road to Bournemouth, 4 miles distant. It was long used as a deer-park, but has now a village. A castle on it was built in the time of Elizabeth for defence of the harbour, and strongly fortified in the time of Charles I. for the wars. It was thoroughly restored in 1888. The chapelry was constituted in 1855, and is conterminate with the island. Parkstone is the post town, and the money order and telegraph office. The area is 1000 acres; population, 122. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Salisbury; net value, £30. The church was built in 1854, and is in the Early Decorated style, of Purbeck stone, with a square embattled tower.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDorsetshire 
Civil parishStudland 
DioceseBristol1542 - 1836
DioceseSalisbury1836 -

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1855.


Church of England

St. Mary (parish church)

The church of St. Mary is a building of stone, built in 1854, in the Early Decorated style, consisting of chancel, nave, north transept and a lofty embattled western tower containing 4 bells: the nave is seated with carved oak benches with poppy head ends: the roof was formerly at Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate street within, London: all the windows are stained: an elegant screen fills the tower arch: there are 100 sittings. In the churchyard are interred the Right Hon. George Augustus Frederick Cavendish Bentinck P.C., M.P. d. 1891, and Prudence Penelope (Leslie), his wife.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Brownsea from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Dorset is available to browse.


Online maps of Brownsea are available from a number of sites: