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Purbeck, Dorset

Historical Description

Purbeck, a peninsular tract in the SE of Dorsetshire, bounded on the N by Poole Harbour, on the E and the S by the sea, and on the W by the stream of Luckford Lake. Its length from E to W is 11 miles, and its extreme breadth is 9 miles. Much of it is isolated by a crescent of chalk hills, dipping to the sea at each extremity; the central part, from E to W, is a range of downs nearly 700 feet high; and much of the coast is rock-bound and picturesque. The rocks comprise tertiary, cretaceous, wealden, and oolitic beds, so arranged on the E shore as to be easily read off by even a superficial geologist; they have furnished great wealth and variety of fossils; and they include a well-known freestone of peculiar character, which has been quarried from very early times, and was much used in the building of old churches and cathedrals. The island was anciently a royal deer forest, was used as hunting-ground by kings from Edward the Martyr to James I., and had some old hunting-seats which have been converted into farmhouses. See CORFE CASTLE, KIMMERIDGE, SWANAGE, STUDLAND, WORTH MATRAVERS, and other articles.

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 
DioceseBristol1542 - 1836
DioceseSalisbury1836 -

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

Land and Property

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

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the Dorset County Chronicle and the Sherborne Mercury online.