Swanage Facts

Swanage is a town in the English county of Dorset. It is located at the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck.

Facts About Swanage

  • The town of Swanage is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is described as being the site of a naval victory by King Alfred the Great over the invading Danish forces. A monument to this event was constructed in 1862 by John Mowlem at the south end of the seafront.
  • There is evidence that the Romans quarried Purbeck marble during the Roman occupation of Britain. When the Romans left, quarrying stopped for a while, until demand for Purbeck marble grew again in the 12th century.
  • Purbeck marble is often used for decorative interior features, and Purbeck limestone is often used for exterior features, such as paving and walls.
  • During London’s reconstruction following the Great Fire of London in 1666, Purbeck limestone was loaded onto ships at Swanage and transported to the capital.
  • In the early 19th century, William Morton Pitt converted a Swanage mansion into a luxury hotel. It was visited by Princess Victoria in 1833 (before she was crowned Queen Victoria), and the hotel was later renamed the Royal Victoria Hotel.
  • John Mowlem was a Swanage resident who became a very successful builder in London. Along with his nephew George Burt, John Mowlem is responsible for building many of Swanage’s key historical buildings, including the Mowlem Institute, the town’s first pier, and the Prince Albert Memorial of 1862.
  • Swanage Lighthouse was built in 1880, and it is located on the top of the cliffs at Anvil Point.
  • In the late 19th century, and up until the beginning of World War 2, Swanage was a very popular seaside tourist resort. Today, many tourists still visit the town, but it isn’t as popular as it was more than one hundred years ago.
Swanage Beach (Early 20th Century)
Swanage Beach (Early 20th Century)
  • Swanage was home to surrealist artists and photographers Paul Nash and Eileen Agar.
  • The John Cleese character Basil Fawlty from the TV series Fawlty Towers comes from Swanage.
  • Swanage is mentioned often in EM Forster’s Howard’s End novel.
  • The Mowlem Theatre was opened in 1967. With a capacity of nearly 400, it operates as both a cinema and a theatre.
  • The Swanage Carnival Week takes place annually in the last week of July, and it includes firework displays, live music, parades, and dance performances.
  • The novelist Thomas Hardy stayed in Swanage in the winter of 1875. The town appears in The Hand of Ethelberta, but it is named Knollsea.
  • The Swanage Railway consists of six miles of track, and it operates between Swanage and Norden.
  • Swanage is close to Corfe Castle, and many visitors to Swanage will also have visited the Corfe Castle site.
  • Swanage’s football team is called Swanage Town and Herston FC.
  • Swanage has a population of nearly 10,000. This figure swells during the summer months as holidaymakers visit the town.
  • Godlingston Manor in Swanage is said to be haunted by a ghostly lady, and guests at Swanage’s The Royal Oak have apparently been disturbed by doors closing by themselves, and have been awoken by a ghostly figure sitting at foot of their beds.
  • Artist Lucy Tidbury has a studio in Swanage. She is best known for her paintings of cows in her Moo Selfie series.