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28 October 2014

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You are in: Dorset > Coast > Point 8: Swanage High Street

Purbeck House

Purbeck House

Point 8: Swanage High Street

Continue walking downhill, down Taunton Road and Cluny Crescent - turn right down Convent Mews.

You're now in the back garden of Purbeck House - the grand residence built by George Burt with his stone fortune. 


It’s now a hotel, but you can still wander through the gardens which, like the rest of Swanage are festooned with items salvaged from London construction works.

The Hyde Park archway

The Hyde Park archway at Purbeck House

You’ll see a large archway with the head of Neptune which came from Hyde Park Corner – it was of particular interest to Burt as he worked on it when he was a young stone-mason.

There is a Chinese pagoda-style pavilion at the end of the tennis court – the stone columns came from toll houses on Westminster Bridge.  Inside, the pavilion is paved with floor tiles from the lobby of the House of Commons no less! 

You’ll also find bits of Billingsgate Fish market, including cast iron balastrading, and the columns at the end of Convent Mews are from London’s infamous Millbank Prison which housed prisoners before they were transported to Australia.

The elaborate front of Purbeck House is covered with granite chippings, 'recycled' from waste material from the newly-built steps of the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.

Swanage Town Hall

Swanage Town Hall

The Town Hall

Almost directly opposite Purbeck House is Swanage Town Hall, - its amazing front is, yet again, a bit of old London.

George Burt brought the entire stone façade of the Mercers’ Hall in the City of London which was dismantled to allow the street to be widened. 

If you look carefully, there are two cherubs holding some cloth for the Virgin Mary who was the patron saint of cloth makers.  A replica was put up in London but it was destroyed during the blitz.

Swanage Gaol

Swanage Gaol

A small path to the right of the Town Hall will take you to the town's tiny prison, dating from 1803. 

This was where you'd be locked up for misbehaving - normally if you were the worse for drink!

Walk down the High Street and pay a visit to Swanage Heritage Centre on the seafront where you can discover more about the town's remarkable story.  From 2006 Swanage Museum will be re-locating to the Heritage Centre.

David Haysom - Curator, Swanage Museum
Durlston Country Park
Swanage Pier Trust
Purbeck District Council

last updated: 29/01/2008 at 15:09
created: 11/07/2005

You are in: Dorset > Coast > Point 8: Swanage High Street

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