POOLE, a municipal borough, county in itself, market town and seaport in the eastern parliamentary division of Dorsetshire, England, 113^ m. S.W. by W. from London by the London & South-Western railway. Pop. (1901), 19,463. It is picturesquely situated on a peninsula between Holes Bay and the shallow irregular inlet of Poole Harbour. There are several modern churches, a guildhall, public library and school of art. Poole Harbour, extending inland 6 m., with a general breadth of 4 m., has a very narrow entrance, and is studded with low islands, on the largest of which, Brownsea or Branksea, is a castle, transformed into a residence, erected as a defence of the harbour in Tudor times, and strengthened by Charles I. Potters' clay is worked here. At low water the harbour is entirely emptied except a narrow channel, when there is a depth of 8J ft. There are some valuable oyster beds. There is a considerable general coasting trade, and clay is exported to the Staffordshire potteries. Some shipbuilding is carried on, and there are manufacturers of cordage, netting and sailcloth. The town also possesses potteries, decorative tileworks, iron foundries, agricultural implement works and flour-mills. Poole Park, containing 40 acres of land and 62 acres of water, was acquired in 1887 and 1889, and Branksome Park, of 40 acres, in 1895. The borough is under a mayor, 6 aldermen and 1 8 councillors. Area, 5333 acres.
Although the neighbourhood abounds -in British earthworks and barrows, and there are traces of a Roman road leading from Poole to Wimborne, Poole (La Pole) is not mentioned by the early chroniclers or in Domesday Book. The manor, part of that of Canford, belonged in 1086 to Edward of Salisbury, and passed by marriage to William Longespde, earl of Salisbury, thence to Edmund de Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and with his heiress to Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and so to the Crown. Poole is first mentioned in a writ of 1 224, addressed to the bailiffs and good men of La Pole, ordering them to retain all ships within their port. Entries in the Patent Rolls show that Poole had considerable trade before William de Longespee, earl of Salisbury, granted the burgesses a charter about 1248 assuring to them all liberties and free customs within his borough. The bailiff was to be chosen by the lord from six men elected by the burgesses, and was to hold pleas for breach of measures and assizes. It is uncertain when the burgesses obtained their town at the fee-farm rent of 8, 135. 4d. mentioned in 1312. The mayor, bailiffs and good men are first mentioned in 1311 and were required to provide two ships for service against Robert de Brus. In 1372 the burgesses obtained assize of bread and ale, and right to hold the courts of the lord of the manor, the prepositus being styled his mayor. The burgesses were licensed in 1433 to fortify the town; this was renewed in 1462, when the mayor was given cognisance of the staple. Elizabeth incorporated Poole in 1569 and made it a separate county; Charles II. gave a charter in 1667. The corporation was suspended after a writ of quo warranto in 1686, the town being governed by the commission of the peace until the charters were renewed in 1688. Poole returned two members to parliament in 1362 and 1368, and regularly from 1452 to 1867, when the representation was reduced, ceasing in 1885. It is uncertain when the Thursday market was granted, but the present fairs on the Feasts of SS Philip and James and All Saints were granted in 1453- Poole, as the headquarters of the Parliamentary forces in Dorset during the Civil War, escaped the siege that crippled so many of its neighbours. When Charles II. visited the town in 1665 a large trade was carried on in stockings, though the prosperity of Poole still depended on its usefulness as a port.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)