In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Swanage like this:
SWANAGE, or Swanwich, a village, a parish, and a sub-district, in Wareham district, Dorset. The village stands on S. bay, 9 miles SE of Wareham r. station; was known, at Domesday, as Swanawic or Sonwic; is a sub-port to Poole, and a pleasant watering-place; consists chiefly of one street, nearly a mile long; commands a fine view of the Hants coast and the Isle of Wight; enjoys very fine environs, with many interesting natural features; and has a post-office‡ under Wareham, a banking office, two chief inns, an ancient cruciform church restored in 1860, two dissenting chapels, and a coastguard station. ...
S. bay is proximately semi-circular, on a chord of 1¾ mile; has a depth of from 5 to 8 fathoms; and affords good shelter in westerly winds. The parish includes Herston and Ulwell hamlets; and comprises 2,953 acres of land, and 240 of water. Real property, £4,819. Pop., 2,004. Houses, 445. The property is subdivided. Building stone is quarried. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Salisbury. Value, £555.* Patron, J. H. Calcraft, Esq.The sub-district contains four parishes. Acres, 15,872. Pop., 3,682. Houses, 798.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Swanage has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Purbeck. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Swanage and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Swanage, in Purbeck and Dorset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 25th February 2017
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