Dorset walk around Old Poole Town
PUBLISHED: 10:36 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:36 18 February 2016
Almshouses and alleys, taverns and merchants’ houses - Edward Griffiths explores the fascinating historic quarter of this important seafaring town on foot
This excursion is not so much a long walk as an easy stroll through Poole’s illustrious and very successful maritime heritage. You will walk in the footsteps of the local families who were instrumental in the fishing and mercantile history of this important sea port over the centuries. You will also see the houses where they lived, the buildings where they worshipped, and visit their final resting places.
Distance: 2 miles (3.25 km)
Time: 2 hours
Start: Sir Anthony Caro’s ‘Sea Music’ sculpture on Poole Quay (Grid Ref: SZ009902)
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
Public Transport: South Western Trains Dorchester to Poole Railway Station. Buses to Poole Bus Station - Wilts and Dorset 3, 37. Damory 322 Fridays
Dogs: On leads at all times on this urban walk
Refreshments: Several quayside and town inns en route for lunches and bar meals
1 From Sir Anthony Caro’s 35ft tall ‘Sea Music’ sculpture of 1991, walk towards the lifting bridge, passing old warehouses on your right. Take right St Clement’s Alley. Past a section of old stone wall, formerly thought to be the Town Wall but now considered a merchant’s house, emerge into Thames Street. Turn left. Passing left Mansion House built in 1776 by Isaac Lester, a member of the important Poole trading family; arrive at Poole’s Parish Church of St James, built in 1819. Walk around the west and north sides of St James’ then leave along St James’ Close into Church Street. Turn left. Becoming Market Street, pass right 15th-century St George’s Almshouses, restored in 1904. Pass left 1563 stone-built Byngley House, built for Poole Mayor, William Byngley. Pass Guildhall Tavern on New Street corner.
2 Passing left Angel Inn and the Guildhall, built 1761, turn left to the mini-roundabout and cross right into Dear Hay Lane. At the Blue Boar inn, turn left into Market Close, formerly Pillory Street. Pass the elegant Poole Mansion on the right. Poole-born Sir Peter Thompson made his fortune as a merchant between Hamburg and London before retiring to his home town and having this mansion built in 1762. At the end of the road, turn left into Love Lane. Into West Street, turn right. Go right again into the Old Burial Ground, noticing the path of re-located gravestones moved during road construction work late last century. Cross to Dear Hay Lane again and turn left. Past the right car park, cross right into Chapel Lane before the Rising Sun. Through the passageway into High Street at the Methodist Church, turn left.
3 Don’t cross the crossing but note Beech Hurst house on the far right edge of High Street, built in 1798 for Samuel Rolles, gentleman. Turn right into Lagland Street. On your left, pass old Norton Library, now a restaurant, built in Beech Hurst’s grounds in 1887. Past right Foundry Arms, continue along Lagland Street to the right corner Quaker’s Meeting House site 1678-1937 with Cockleshell Inn opposite. Turn right into Prosperous Street. Go into the passage with old stone kerbs and doorway corner-stones. Through into High Street, turn left. Before the crossing to New Orchard, which you should have a look around before moving on, notice the last right passageway called Bowling Green Alley. The ‘Bowling Green’ is shown on old Poole Maps before the roads were re-laid. At the lights, turn left into Old Orchard. Past the other end of Prosperous Street, turn left into Lagland Street again.
4 Take first right into Skinner Street. Past the tile-hung 1777 Congregational Church, now Reformed Church re-built in the 1880s, continue to the left bend. Take right East Quay Road and keep straight on, passing all right turnings, into Fisherman’s Road. Meander through onto Poole Quay by left Thistle Hotel. The Lifeboat Museum and Fishermen’s Dock are worth visiting to your left, but turn right and pass right Dolphin Quays development where formerly stood Poole Pottery’s original site and Poole Gasworks, with an overhead gantry delivering coal from ships to works. The gasworks and gantry were demolished in the 1960s. Continue along the quayside, past right Old Orchard, past Lord Nelson and Jolly Sailor inns which are opposite the bronze sculpture of Lord Baden-Powell, commemorating the centenary of the first Scout Camp on Brownsea Island (August 1907) which he is facing, and past several converted warehouses.
5 There are several alleyways between the warehouses but look out for Bull Street which goes off alongside green Carter’s tile-clad Poole Arms. At the end of Bull Street, into Strand Street, turn left and right and walk up to and through narrow Dennetts Lane alley in the left corner. Emerging into High Street, turn left. Pass right Antelope Hotel. At the left bend, continue past right Scaplen’s Court and left Poole Museum into Sarum Street. At the end, facing the King Charles Inn, turn left into Thames Street. Pass left Paradise Street and Poole Town Cellars dating from the 1430s. Then, passing between left Custom House, whose impressive Georgian-style frontage was re-built in 1813 after a fire, and right Old Harbour Office of 1727, you’re back to Caro’s sculpture where you started.
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