Purbeck House occupies the highest point in Swanage High Street, its elevated position having been cleverly used by the architect to emphasize the immensity of its walls and tower. Constructed in the “Scottish Baronial” style and imitating a feudal castle, Purbeck House rises majestically above the town.
The building itself is a mixture of the grand and eccentric, an outward manifestation of the power and wealth of the the mid-Victorian entrepreneur.
Purbeck House was the creation of just such a man, the great George Burt, a man referred to by Thomas Hardy as “The King of Swanage”, the nephew of John Mowlem and one of the founders the building company Mowlem & Co. Constructed in 1875 to a design by his friend, the renowned Weymouth architect G.R Crickmay. Purbeck House Hotel was built on the site of Burt’s previous house and, according to tradition, a plot once occupied by a religious order. The House contains within its fabric a veritable Pandora’s Box of fascinating detail, painstakingly pieced together and, in many ways, reflecting the life and character of George Burt.
For where else, (outside of London itself), can one find together such artifacts as statues from the Royal Exchange (the one destroyed by fire), a tiled floor originally laid in the House of Commons, an arch that once stood in Hyde Park, a balustrade and columns from old Billingsgate Market, granite left over from the Albert Memorial, a richly carved crown thistle and rose from the medieval Parliament Buildings (burnt down in 1834) and a gargoyle said to come from Westminster Hall?