Things to do in Swanage
What is there to see and do in Swanage and Studland?
An ancient fishing port and for centuries the departure point for the characterful Purbeck stone hewn from the many quarries that pepper the surrounding hills, Swanage owes many of its distinctive buildings and much of its civic confidence to the great 19th century builders like John Mowlem and George Burt who made their fortunes remodelling London and sent relics from the capital – including the clock tower and the façade of the town hall – back to their hometown.
There are many art galleries and craft shops as well as independent traders that make a refreshing change from the familiar high street names, while the Mowlem Theatre is well used with a varied programme of live entertainment and cinema. Swanage also hosts several music events with jazz, folk and two blues festivals a year.
Studland of course is famed for its spectacular beaches and heathland, an internationally important habitat. Owned by the National Trust there is a busy programme of guided walks and special events for all the family as well as some of the best bathing Dorset has to offer.
Corfe Castle is an icon of British tourism that in a thousand years of history has witnessed the murder of one English king and imprisoned another in its dungeon before being destroyed by order of Parliament after the Civil War. Much of the village that has grown up at the foot of the ruins was built from the castle’s distinctive Purbeck limestone – the same stone seen in some of England’s greatest churches, including Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
From Corfe, a trip back to Swanage along the ridge of Purbeck Hills takes in the picturesque villages of Kingston, Worth Matravers, Acton and Langton Matravers, the heart of Purbeck’s quarrying heritage.