The Great Globe stands within Durlston Country Park, a 113-hectare (280-acre) country park and nature reserve, stretching along the coastline south of Swanage, on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The Park is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
John Mowlem (1788-1868), a Swanage-born man, was a stonemason and builder. He was the founder of the quarrying and construction company Mowlem. John Mowlem and his nephew and business partner George Burt wanted to give something back to their home town, which was the source of their Portland and Purbeck limestone, popular for building at the time. John Mowlem built the Mowlem Institute, a reading room and public library, in 1862.
George Burt (1816-1894) purchased an undulating tract of land covering Durlston Head during the same year. This estate included quarries that supplied their firm with limestone. Burt developed this estate as a tourist attraction.
Burt established the Durlston Estate on the crest of the hill and built his folly Durlston Castle. The castle was designed by G.R. Crickmay, and was built by W.M. Hardy in 1886-87 entirely of local stone. The 'castle' was never a real castle but rather intended as a restaurant for visitors to his estate.
South of Durlston Castle within the Estate grounds is the Great Globe. Constructed in Greenwich in 1887 in Mowlem's stone-yard, it was brought to Swanage by sea. The Globe, which is made of Portland stone, consists of 15 segments, with four stones for each of the lower three courses and three in the top-most course, the segments connected by granite dowels. It measures 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter and weighs 40 tons. Its surface is carved in detail and lettered to show the continents, oceans and certain more specific areas of the world. In the year of its creation, it was erected by W.M. Hardy upon a platform chopped 136 feet (41 m) above sea level into the solid rock of the hill. Around the Globe is a set of stone plaques carved with quotations from English and Roman poets and the Bible, as well as facts about the natural world. These were not completed until 1891.
There is a stairway leading to the Great Globe. Previously visitors could walk right up to the globe, but now it is protected by an iron fence. Around the globe are eight large stone blocks that represent the compass.
Durlston Country Park has been owned by Dorset County Council since the early 1970s and is open to the public. The Castle was restored during 2010 and 2011 by the Council. Today the castle is the home of the Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre, an exhibition hall and a restaurant. Also within Durlston Country Park and within walking distance of the Globe are Durlston Bay, the Tilly Whim Caves and the Anvil Point Lighthouse.
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- "Durlston Country Park". web page. AboutBritain.com. 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
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