Brownsea Castle

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBrownsea Castle
Alternative NamesBranksea; Poole; Brensey
Historic CountryDorset
Modern AuthorityDorset
1974 AuthorityDorset
Civil ParishStudland

Brownsea Castle, now a country house, was rebuilt on the site of a small Henrician coastal artillery fort or blockhouse, built between 1545-47 by Henry VIII as part of his network of coastal defences to protect against French and Spanish invasion. The fort was refortified during the Civil War by the Parliamentarians and was then bought and converted into a country house in 1726. In the mid-19th century the house was remodelled and a new Tudor style facade, gatehouse and pier built. This was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1897. Any remains of the original castle are now in the basement of the house, though sections of the later house reflect its original structure. Although nothing remains on the surface of the original Henrician blockhouse, its physical aspect can be interpreted from a 1597 map of Poole Harbour. It consisted of a square single-storey stone building surrounded on three sides by a moat with a hexagonal gun platform on the seaward side which was enclosed by a low wall. (PastScape)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSZ030876
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Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey) p. 8, 33, 56, 57
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Wessex (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 14
  • Pomeroy, Colin, 1998, Discover Dorset Castles and Forts (Dovecote Press) p. 50-2
  • Saunders, Andrew, 1997, Channel Defences (London; Batsford/English Heritage) p. 49, 50, 118
  • Wilton, P., 1995, Castles of Dorset (Wimborne)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 69 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 126
  • Morley, B.M., 1976, Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence (London) p. 32-3
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) p. 465-72
  • Pevsner, N. and Newman J., 1972, Buildings of England: Dorset (London) p. 117-8
  • RCHME, 1970, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset Vol. 2: south-east (HMSO) p. 279-81 no. 3 (plan) plates 158-60 online transcription
  • Short, 1963, A Short History of Brownsea Island (National Trust)
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1960, Castles and Cannon: A Study of Early Artillery Fortifications in England (Oxford: Claredon Press) p. 53 plate 14
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • van Raalte, 1906, Brownsea Island (London) p. 19-68 (history)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 239-40 online copy
  • Hutchins, J., 1861-73 (3edn), History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset (Blandford) Vol. 1 p. 648-51
  • Sydenham, 1839, History Town and Country of Poole (Poole) p. 387-94



  • Lutyens, 1921, Country Life Vol. 49 p. 430-6 (not very helpful)
  • van Raalte, C., 1905, 'Brownsea Island' Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol. 26 p. 187-94 (history only) online copy

Guide Books

  • Brownsea Island Guide Book (National Trust)

Primary Sources