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Swanage was already an old settlement when, in AD 877, a Viking fleet was wrecked there; chased by King Alfred, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
The Romans knew the place and quarried its stone for fine work, such as inscribed memorials, found as far away as Colchester.
By the 13th century the quarries had become a major industry, with Purbeck 'marble' shipped for use in many of the cathedrals and churches throughout the Kingdom, and beyond.
Always noted for its striking scenery, produced by its unusual geology, Swanage starts its story back in geological time, when dinosaurs left their bones in the Purbeck rocks. After centuries of primary production - quarrying, farming and fishing - the early 19th century brought a Cinderella transformation into an elegant watering place after Morton Pitt developed the Manor House Hotel (renamed Royal Victoria when the young Princess Victoria stayed there with her mother in 1833), though the elegance declined somewhat after the railway came in 1885, bringing day-trippers and holiday-makers who stayed a week or two.
Now a full-blown resort, Swanage had a new pier serving regular paddle-steamers, on one of which Thomas Hardy arrived with his new bride to spend a year in lodgings at the cottage of the lifeboat coxswain ? The first edition of this book appeared in 1994, was widely acclaimed and quickly sold out.
The authors have undertaken a complete revision, incorporating extra information from readers and their own further research. Every aspect of Swanage history is explored and explained in this very readable account by two well-known local historians.
They convey in text and pictures not only a wealth of information but also their own enthusiasm for their subject ?
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