Enid Blyton's Famous Five
Enid Mary Blyton was born in London on 11th August 1897.
She was one of the most successful British authors of the twentieth century and she fell in love with Dorset after first visiting the county in 1931.
Her most popular children’s books included The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Magic Faraway Tree and Noddy series. Did you know that she based some of the books characters and locations on people and places in Dorset?
She wrote 21 full length Famous Five books. The first book was ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ which was published on 11th September 1942. In this book you are introduced to four children – brothers Julian and Dick, their sister Anne and their cousin George (Georgina Kirrin). The fifth member is George’s dog Timmy. Enid is said to have based the character George on her younger self.
In total, Enid wrote more than 800 books and stories over 40 years, but still found time for three holidays a year in Dorset (specifically in the Isle of Purbeck) for over twenty years. During the 1940’s she visited with her daughters Gillian and Imogen and later with her husband Kenneth.
Although she never lived in Dorset, she owned Manor Farm at Stourton Caundle near Sturminster Newton, which she would visit when in the area. This farm was the inspiration for the Famous Five book ‘Five on Finniston Farm’.
The Isle of Purbeck in Dorset provided inspiration for many characters and locations in Enid Blyton’s books, including The Famous Five and Noddy.
Explore the Isle of Purbeck in the footsteps of Enid Blyton by using the map and travel information to go on a self-guided trail of this beautiful area and uncover fascinating stories and incredible sights along the way. Don’t forget to pack yourself some corned beef sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer for the journey!
When visiting the area, Enid stayed at The Ship Hotel (now The Ship Inn), the Grosvenor Hotel, and the Grand Hotel.
Hill and Churchill’s bookshop where she would sign copies of her works is now McColl’s, on Institute Road.
Swanage has one pier less than it did when Enid visited - she and her husband Kenneth used to swim round both piers before supper.
Don’t miss Swanage’s Victorian railway station - complete with retro posters, vintage suitcases and steam trains. You can catch a train from here to Corfe Castle with Swanage Railway.
In the Famous Five book ‘Five Fall into Adventure’, the children take a picnic down to the sea “Where rocks jutted up from the beach, surrounded by limpid rock pools”. This is undoubtedly Kimmeridge Bay which is one of the best places to go rock-pooling in Dorset.
Later in the book, the children row a boat around the coastline until they see “a high cliff” on top of which was a “dour, grey stone building….. a little like a castle. It brooded over the sea with one square tower overlooking the waves.” The building is thought to have been inspired by Clavell Tower – built in 1831 as a folly and which is now holiday accommodation with amazing views over Kimmeridge Bay.
Corfe Castle, a dramatic hilltop ruin owned by the National Trust is said to be the inspiration for “Kirrin Castle” in Enid’s Famous Five books. It was first mentioned in ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ where gold is discovered hidden in Kirrin Castle’s dungeons.
Enid first visited the ruin in 1931 and in the many years following, enjoyed arriving at the village (also called Corfe Castle) by steam train from Swanage. You may like to imagine yourself as one of the Famous Five disembarking at Corfe Castle Railway Station. When the station is open, you can even photograph yourself alongside a painting of the Five, with the castle in the background.
You can walk around the base of Corfe Castle or go inside and climb up for views over the village and surrounding countryside.
The Blue Pool is described in the Famous Five book ‘Five Go Off in a Caravan’ as “An enormous blue lake that lay glittering in the August sunshine”. The Blue Pool is less blue these days but it is still a peaceful and tranquil place to visit.
Set within the Furzebrook Estate, the Blue Pool is also home to Blue Pool Tea Rooms – a vintage style teahouse dating from 1935. Perfect for lunch or a cream tea.
“Mystery Moor” in the Famous Five book ‘Five go to Mystery Moor’ is reputedly based on Stoborough Heath, found between the Blue Pool and Ridge. The “railway lines” mentioned in the book are actually a dismantled tramway which can be walked along.
You can follow the Purbeck Way walking trail from Corfe Castle to Stoborough Heath passing by the Blue Pool along the way.
‘The Rubadub Mystery’ is set in a seaside village with a secret whirlpool and submarine bay. Not the Famous Five this time, but four children, a dog and a monkey go on an adventure to discover spies and long lost relatives.
“Rubadub Whirlpool” is where the children have one of their adventures and is described as “One of the finest whirlpools I ever did see…the rock that gives the name of Rubadub – it’s like a scrubbing board.” Stair Hole (found next to the world famous Lulworth Cove) is just like the Whirlpool rocks, with tight lines of rock compressed over time and which now resemble an old fashioned washboard.
The coast at Lulworth is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and is a fantastic place to see blow holes, caves, arches and coves.
In 1951, Enid’s husband, Kenneth Darrell Waters purchased the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club. This magnificent heathland course dates back to 1892 and the original 18 holes were extended to 27 under the couples’ ownership.
An excellent golfer herself, Enid was often a caddie for her husband. Gordon ‘Johnny’ James was the Club’s greenkeeper and also Enid’s ‘bright-eyed’ and ‘nut-brown’ caddie, who she included as the character Lucas in ‘Five Have a Mystery to Solve’.
Occasionally Enid could be seen writing outside the clubhouse, and inside, the list of ladies captains includes Mrs E Darrell Waters 1951.
Even if you don't like golf, you can admire the amazing views over Poole Harbour from the clubhouse and enjoy a drink or something to eat.
‘Noddy Goes to Toyland’ was published in 1949, with worldwide sales quickly soaring sky-high. Enid’s character Mr Plod is founded on the Studland village policeman of those days, PC Christopher Rone, who must surely now rank as the world's most famous policeman!
In the 1960’s Enid stayed at the Knoll House Hotel. The popular coastal hotel has far reaching views across to Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight.
This magical island in Poole Harbour, owned by the National Trust, was the inspiration for “Whispering Island” in The Famous Five books.
In Enid’s time, Brownsea Island was owned by the very reclusive Mrs Bonham-Christie, who would not tolerate visitors and allowed the island to return to nature. In ‘Five Have a Mystery to Solve’, Enid described it as “Keep Away Island”. Now, the Island is open to everyone and it’s one of the few places in England where you can see red squirrels.
You will need to catch a boat to the Island from Sandbanks or Poole Quay.
The majority of locations on the Enid Blyton Trail can be reached by train or bus.
From Swanage you can catch a bus or train to Corfe Castle. From Corfe Castle you can catch a bus or walk to the Blue Pool and Stoborough Heath. From Stoborough Heath you can catch a bus to Lulworth Cove (via Wareham). From Lulworth Cove you can catch a bus to Swanage (via Wareham). From Swanage you can catch a bus to Studland. From Studland you can catch a bus to Sandbanks (or onwards buses to Poole Quay) where you can get on a boat to Brownsea Island.
The vintage railway between Swanage and Corfe Castle is run by Swanage Railway.
For help planning your journey by bus, visit www.travelinesw.com.
If you are staying in Swanage, you can travel along the famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site from Swanage Pier to Poole Quay passing Old Harry Rocks along the way.
If you are staying in Poole, you can catch a boat to Swanage and then get on a vintage train with Swanage Railway to Corfe Castle.
You can only travel to Brownsea Island by boat. You can catch a boat from either Poole Quay or Sandbanks – both can be reached by bus. You will need to purchase a separate ticket to enter Brownsea Island (tickets are free for National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust members).
Not all of the locations mentioned in this leaflet can be reached by bus, train or boat. If you are driving, then please use the car park at Purbeck Park, where for most days throughout the year, you can catch a vintage train (sometimes steam trains) to Swanage via Corfe Castle. Find out more on the Dorset Council website.
As there are so many places to visit in Dorset which are linked to Enid Blyton’s books, you may like to stay for more than one day.
Enid and her family used to stay at The Grand Hotel in Swanage and The Knoll House Hotel in Studland. You can find more places to stay in our accommodation guide..
The Hotel has stunning panoramic views across Swanage Bay and direct access from the hotel gardens to the private beach. Enid Blyton stayed at the hotel between 1952 and 1960.
You can enjoy lunch or dinner in their Coast Restaurant or have a drink in their bar and enjoy the fantastic sea views.
Enid Blyton used to stay at Knoll House for several weeks in the spring and summer throughout the 1960s. She and her husband Kenneth always occupied room 40 with its view across Studland Bay. In the dining room they religiously sat at table 3 - Enid would face south with a view of Old Harry Rocks while Kenneth saw views towards Bournemouth.
There is a collection of memorabilia and artefacts around the hotel, including letters from Blyton, highlighting her much loved relationship with Knoll House.
The hotel gardens are near the glorious golden sand dunes of Knoll Beach, which is owned by the National Trust and offers a wonderful day out at the seaside.
You can download the Trail leaflet and map showing all the locations associated with Enid Blyton on the Isle of Purbeck. Please note this leaflet is not an Accessible PDF - the text from the leaflet is included on this webpage. Please contact us if you need this leaflet in an accessible format.
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