Renowned for its pristine white beach (one of southern England’s cleanest) and its gardens, the resort of BOURNEMOUTH dates from 1811, when a local squire, Louis Tregonwell, built a summerhouse on the wild, unpopulated heathland that once occupied this stretch of coast, and planted the first of the pine trees that now characterize the area. The mild climate, sheltered site and glorious sandy beach encouraged the rapid growth of a full-scale family-holiday resort, complete with piers, cliff railways and boat trips. Today Bournemouth has a rather genteel, slightly geriatric image, counterbalanced by burgeoning numbers of language students, clubbers and surfers, attracted by Britain’s only artificial reef in the neighbouring suburb of Boscombe.
In the centre of town, on Hinton Road, the graveyard of St Peter’s church is where Mary Shelley, author of the Gothic horror tale Frankenstein, is buried, together with the heart belonging to her husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The tombs of Mary’s parents – radical thinker William Godwin and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft – are also here.