Enid Blyton characters and locations based on the people and places of Dorset
- Credit: Archant
Purbeck is the spiritual home for the Famous Five, an area beloved by their creator Enid Blyton who regularly holidayed here for over 20 years, as Visit Dorset reveals
The Famous Five, Secret Seven and Noddy are just a few of the household names created by Enid Blyton, but less well known is the fact that she based some of her characters and locations on people and places in Dorset, especially Purbeck. An area she visited three times a year for holidays for over 20 years.
Pre Supper Swims in Swanage
Swanage has one pier less than it did in the Blyton heyday, when she and husband Kenneth, used to swim round both piers before supper. The bookshop where she signed copies of her works is now Martins the newsagent. However, the famous children’s author would recognise two other familiar Swanage landmarks – The Wellington Clock Tower and The Grand Hotel, the hotel that she favoured in the 1950’s. Although always a visitor, rather than a resident, Enid Blyton became an integral part of Purbeck life and was elected president of the annual Swanage Carnival and Regatta.
Teeing off at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club
In 1950 Kenneth Darrell Waters, Blyton’s husband purchased The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club from Harry Palmer. This magnificent heathland course is consistently ranked among the top 100 courses in the British Isles by Golf World. It dates back to 1892 and the original 18 holes were extended to 27 under their ownership. Park in the lay-by and admire the view that Blyton would have enjoyed as she teed off. Find out more at purbeckgolf.co.uk.
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Steaming towards Corfe Castle
Five on a Treasure Island (1942) was the first Famous Five adventure and featured Kirrin Castle ruins where some gold is hidden. Corfe Castle, a dramatic hilltop ruin now owned by the National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle), was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle. Blyton visited it in 1941, arriving by steam train from Swanage. This is something you can still do today, thanks to Swanage Railway which runs steam trains between Swanage and Norden. You may like to imagine yourself as one of the Famous Five disembarking at Corfe Station! When the station is open, you can even photograph yourself alongside a painting of the Famous Five, with the castle in the background. More details at swanagerailway.co.uk.
This magical island in Poole Harbour, owned by the National Trust, was the inspiration for ‘Whispering Island’ in the Famous Five Adventures. In Enid Blyton’s day it was owned by the very reclusive Mrs Bonham-Christie, who would not tolerate visitors and allowed the island to return to nature. In Five Have a Mystery to Solve (1962), Blyton described it as ‘Keep Away Island’. nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island.
Mystery on Stoborough Heath
‘Mystery Moor’ is reputedly based on the heath between Blue Pool and Ridge and featured in Five Go to Mystery Moor (1954). Heathland birds and all six native species of reptile as well as the vivid marsh gentian can be found here. Blue Pool, a flooded pit where Purbeck ball clay was once extracted, is famous for its ever changing colours. Very fine clay in suspension in the water diffracts light producing a spectrum of colour - sometimes green, sometimes turquoise. Set within the Furzebrook Estate, it is also home to the Blue Pool Tea Rooms, a tea house dating from 1935. More at bluepooltearooms.co.uk.
Studland’s Mr Plod
Little Noddy Goes to Toyland, published in 1949, was the first Noddy book and was a worldwide success. Reputedly, Mr Plod the Toyland policeman is based on PC Christopher Rhone, a Studland police constable, who must surely now rank as the world’s most famous policeman!
In the early 1960’s Enid stayed at the Knoll House Hotel, until her dementia made holidays too difficult. The popular coastal hotel has far reaching views across to the Isle of Wight and its gardens are adjacent to the glorious golden sand dunes of Studland Beach which is owned by the National Trust and offers a wonderful family out at the seaside. Find out more at knollhouse.co.uk.
Find out more
To download a leaflet that will show you how you can discover Purbeck in the footsteps of Enid Blyton go to visit-dorset.com. Information provided by Purbeck District Council 2017.