‘Purbeck marble and radar research unveils secrets of village’

October 10, 2017

VILLAGE HISTORY: The Purbeck Stone and Langton Matravers Museum, behind St George’s Church, hosts 25,000 artefacts covering much of the industrial history of the village and district’s Purbeck marble that is used in local churches and national cathedrals.

VERSATILE VENUE: Leeson House, which is currently an public-funded outdoor environmental centre and was previously a top facility used by the RAF for radar research and was a pre-prep school until the 1960s. Picture by Clive Perrin.

PLAY TIME: The Putlake Adventure Farm at Langton Matravers is a working farm and has the biggest indoor soft-play area within a 10-mile radius of Swanage and has numerous resources for visitors.

INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE: The Kings Farms in Langton Matravers has a fire-place made of marble and its first landlord was a member of the Ancient Order of Public Marblers and Stonecutters.


THE village of Langton Matravers in the Purbecks, has many more assets that many may not be aware of.

It comes as part of a triumvirate of villages that includes Worth Matravers that I visited in March 2016, taking time to visit the Square and Compass pub, the fossil museum tea rooms, the iconic duck pond and the coastal scenery that is accessible to Seacombe Cliffs, Dancing Ledge, Winspit and Chapman’s Pool.

Then in August of this year, two of my friends and myself took a day out to check out Kingston, which is down the road from Langton Matravers, and it boasts the “Cathedral of the Purbecks”, St James Church and the wonderful food of the Scotts Arms.

Langton Matravers is two miles from Swanage town centre and five miles from Corfe Castle and the census of six years gave it a population of 853.

House hosted radar research

It boasts a field studies centre called Leeson House, a Grade II listed 19th Century House and until the 1960s, it was a pre-prep school. Leeson House was taken over the by Royal Air Force and used for top-secret radar research. The field studies centre celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

During the 2nd World War, it was from Leeson House where they completed the first successful tracking of a submarine in Swanage Bay. Due to concerns about the safety of the project it was moved inland after only 18 months. Several air raid shelters still exist on site.

The centre itself has seven acres of grounds hosting a variety of habitats including woodland, meadows and three ponds. There is also a bird hide, a games field and a small campsite. The grounds enjoy the visits of badgers and deer along with a healthy population of newts.

Purbeck marble on display

Langton Matravers Museum lies behind St George’s Church and houses 25,000 artefacts, with a particular emphasis on the quarrying industry of Purbeck marble and Purbeck limestone. Unfortunately it is only open from the beginning of April to the end of September.

It is only opened for limited hours, so anyone visiting will see it is run by dedicated volunteers of the Langton Matravers Local History and Preservation Society, so in effect it is run on donations, so please give generously if you go in and visit. The museum is a former coach house.

Purbeck Marble has been quarried since Roman times and has been used and can be seen in churches across the Purbecks and in national cathedrals. It continues to thrive to this day.

Pub has marble fire place

The Kings Arms in Langton Matravers is an old-fashioned public house with a fire-place made of Purbeck marble and an ancient flag-stoned corridor and they serve hot meals.

According to Dorset Magazine, the Kings Arms was first licensed in 1742 as the Mason’s Arms and its first landlord was a member of the Ancient Order of Public Marblers and Stonecutters.

Adventure farm has multiple facilities

Putlake Adventure Farm is another resource that lies in the village and is an adventure farm and indoor soft play area for toddlers to ten-year-olds in Swanage for up to 10 miles.

It is a real working farm with tractor rides, outdoor play equipment, pedal Go-Karts, picnic areas, trampolines, a pet centre and tea rooms.

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