Branksome Tower Hotel, Branksome Park, Poole, Dorset
Charles William Packe (1792-1867) was elected M.P. for Leicestershire South in 1836 and held it to his death. Inheriting the family's Prestwold estate the following year he set about extending and remodling it. Following a quarrel with his brother, about the felling of trees on the estate, he left the state in 1850 and retreated to Great Glen.

In 1853 he purchased 745 acres of the great Branksome Estate from the executors of Miss Bruce for £12,000. The estate extended from County Gates, to the Redland Pottery junction, through Canford Cliffs to the Martello Tower (now gone), back to Branksome Dene Chine and County Gates. He employed William Burn, his architect at Prestwold, to build his mansion Branksome Tower.

County Gates was originally called Packe Gates and was the entrance to his long drive (which became the Avenue). In the 1970s, when the Frizzell Roundabout (County Gates Gyratory) was constructed, the old lodge was demolished but one span of the gates was reassembled close to Pine Drive and Leicester Road in Branksome Chine and can be seen there to this day. Burton, being the village nearest Prestwold, also gave its name to a road on the estate.

Packe took great interest in Bournemouth, was present at the openeing of the Pier in 1861, formed a committee that set up the first dispensary (in Yelverton Road) for the treatment of the sick poor of the area, and supported the Sanatorium (he laid the foundation stone of the chapel.

He also made provision for the construction of the Mausoleum that still stands on his estate. Although his wife's body was interred there initially, the estate was sold in 1870 (to Henry Bury, Esq.) before his remains could be moved there. The Bury family sold and leased plots, finally selling Branksome Tower in 1892 to Mr W.H. Dore who turned it into a hotel of international repute. It was frequented by royalty, nobility and ambassadors. Mr Dore had previously owned the Belle Vue Hotel, The Imperial and The Grand in Bournemouth (all now gone). Alas, he entrusted his investments to Horatio Bottomley, a confidence trickster and MP for South Hackney, who received a 7-year sentence for fraudulent conversion, and the hotel was taken to Bankruptcy Court (along with many other victims). However, Mr Dore's son-in-law, Thomas E Haydon, had become a King's Counsel and he saved the hotel from being turned over to the creditors. A Company was formed and the hotel eventually passed to Judge Haydon's eldest son, Vernon (T H V Haydon).

One of Judge Haydon's daughters, Dorothy, married Tom Levingston (serving in the Rajputana Rifles in India). Dorothy's children, Shirley and Christopher, were sent to boarding school while their parents were in India. In 1939, with the advent of WW2, the children found themselves living with other members of the family at Branksome Tower Hotel, which continued as an hotel for the duration. Mrs Shirley Critchley and her brother Christopher Crouch are the great grandchildren of W H Dore, and still live locally. Her childhood memories of the hotel, it aristoratic guests and sad loss, are recounted in Iris Morris' book, looking back at Branksome Park ISBN 0 9520752 5 3.

The profligacy of Vernon Haydon's directorship of the hotel, added to the cost of maintaining the sea wall and receding cliffs (until Poole Borough Council took this over), led to its sale 1968. It was run by the De Vere Group and then FJB Hotels before being put on the market in 1971. The resident manager was then John Welsh, FHCI. Among the last functions held at the hotel were the Charter Anniversary Dinner of Poole Lions Club on 21st January, 1972, and the ISI conference 'Slab Reheating', on 21st-22nd June, 1972. The hotel was sold to a developer and, despite great public outcry, was demolished in 1973. The plot lay empty until 1977 when plans for the development of 36 flats in four blocks, with a road and house layout for nineteen houses and beach huts, was approved.

In 1980 a young couple attempted to buy the Mausoleum to turn it into a residence but the Packe family turned it over to Poole Borough Council in 1991 and the listed Mausoleum was restored in 1993 for £25,000.
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