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Primrose Primrose League visit to Brownsea Island. Primrose
Brownsea Island 1 Brownsea, also known as Branksea or Bruno's Island, is the largest of the eight named islands in Poole Harbour, Dorset.
Brownsea Island 3
Brownsea Island 2

Charles and Florence van Raalte ( Charles was Dutch, or of Dutch descent, and this used against him in many political arguments) came to Brownsea Island in 1901 but until 1903, the island was known as Branksea. The reason for the name change was that in that year a number of guests of the van Raaltes travelling from London mistakenly alighted the train at Branksome Station, instead of continuing on to Poole, so this led Charles van Raalte to change the island's name from Branksea to the present Brownsea to avoid future confusion. The van Raalte's had 800 people ferried over for a Primrose League event which is detailed in the programme below. Charles van Raalte died in 1908 and was buried in Brownsea Church. Florence van Raalte continued the same high standards at Brownsea for another seventeen years, before she sold it in 1925.
The election campaign of 1904 was keenly contested and Charles was the Conservative and Unionist candidate, another candidate was Charlie Lyell. A report by the Local Press that a canvasser from the Primrose League, a women's Conservative organisation, (Note these are my italics and also note the interesting statement contained within them) had been told by one youthful member of a Branksome household: "I'd rather have Lyell's Golden Syrup than van Raalte's Dutch cheese". These puns relate to the Golden Syrup produced by Abram Lyle & Sons (merged with Henry Tate & Sons on the 27th February 1921 to form Tate and Lyle) and the Edam cheese produce of Holland.
Margherita, daughter of Charles and Florence van Raalte, married the Eight Earl Howard de Walden on the 20th February 1912 and the 'Poole Herald' reports that the employees of Brownsea Island presented Miss van Raalte with a massive inscribed silver inkstand, which was displayed beforehand in the window of Mr. Hansford, Jeweller, of High Street, Poole. Later, in June 1912 the Poole Habitation of the Primrose League presented the new Lady Howard de Walden with a leather-bound album to mark her marriage. Margherita had been a member of the Poole Habitation at the time when her mother Florence had been Divisional President of East Dorset.
Major-General Robert Baden-Powell, at the invitation of Charles van Raalte, chose Brownsea Island as the location of his first Scout camp which took place on the south coast (also referred to as the north end of the island in some documents) of the island in August 1907, therefore Brownsea is known the world over as the birthplace of the Scouting movement. Today Brownsea is under the control of The National Trust and is one of the last remaining outposts of the red squirrel in southern England.



Click on thumbnail brownsea4
Programme for
Primrose League visit.
31.63 KB
brownsea5
Primrose League
Gathering,
at Poole Park?
21.36 KB
to view full size.

Index Page  Acknowledgements:-
I am indebted to Mr. Peter Moore for supplying a copy of the above Primrose League document, the Primrose League Gathering photograph and also for snippets from 'A History of Brownsea Island' by Bugler and Drew.
A thank you must go to Rosalind Johnson, Press Officer of The Redlynch and District Local History Society, for her kind assistance.
I am also grateful to FreeFoto.com for permitting the use of the photographs of Brownsea Island.
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