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Exploring Bournemouth’s History from Marsham Court Hotel


If you’re planning a holiday in Bournemouth at Marsham Court Hotel, a Bournemouth family hotel, you’ll find plenty to do. Whether you love culture or sport, fine dining or award-winning beaches, Bournemouth has them all and more in the here and now.

But perhaps you’re also curious as to how Bournemouth came to be the leading holiday destination it is today. You’ll find Bournemouth’s history in everything you do here.

Before the Town

While Bournemouth’s sister towns of Poole and Christchurch go back to Anglo-Saxon times, or even further, Bournemouth itself is a relatively late developer. The name dates back more than 600 years, referring to the mouth of the “bourne” (stream), but at that time it referred to a stretch of uninhabited heathland. On the other hand, fossil evidence suggests parts of modern Bournemouth, such as Hengistbury Head, may have been inhabited during prehistoric times.

The first habitation in what would become the town didn’t come until the early 19th century, when one of the local landowners sold some land to Lewis Tregonwell, a retired army officer, who built a home and moved in with his wife. Tregonwell saw possibilities in the area — and it was his activities which gave Bournemouth its initially modest beginning.

The Health Resort of Bournemouth

Regency Britain had fallen in love with healthy living, with both spas and sea-bathing popular. While Bournemouth had no spa waters, Tregonwell anticipated that visitors might enjoy the glorious water and beaches of Bournemouth Bay. He built a number of villas to rent out to visitors. Since pine-scented air was believed to benefit people suffering from tuberculosis, he also planted large numbers of pine trees — and many can still be seen today.

In the mid-19th century, land-owner Sir George Tapps-Gervis began to develop the area further. Bournemouth Gardens were created, and a pier was built, although it took several temporary wooden structures before the present magnificent cast-iron pier was constructed.

Much of Bournemouth’s improvements during the later 19th century, after the railway came to the town, were due to the efforts of mayor and philanthropist Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife. The splendid Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, directly opposite Marsham Court Hotel, was their bequest to Bournemouth.

Modern Bournemouth

Although Bournemouth suffered heavy bombing during World War Two, it not only recovered but thrived afterwards. It’s now one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK and, as part of the Unitary Authority of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, has twice bid for city status. Although not successful yet, it can only be a matter of time. Not bad for a stretch of deserted heathland.

Whether you want to explore the history of Bournemouth and its surrounding towns and villages, or whether you just want to enjoy the area as it is, you’ll need a good base for your holiday. Somewhere elegant, comfortable and friendly that’s perfect for all the family.

Marsham Court Hotel is a 4-star hotel on the Bournemouth seafront that offers a welcome to all members of your family. We provide several fully accessible bedrooms and accessible facilities throughout the hotel, including our award-winning Changing Places. And, if you want to share your holiday with the four-legged members of your family, we welcome well-behaved dogs.

Get in touch with us to find out more about exploring Bournemouth’s history and present from Marsham Court Hotel.

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