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Poole History, United Kingdom

Ancient log boats and pottery are evidence that Poole, UK and the surrounding areas have been inhabited since at least the Iron Age.  After the area was invaded by the Romans, the Saxons, and then the Danes Poole finally emerged as a town in the late 12th century.  Before this time it was probably only a small fishing village.

One possible reason for the delayed settlement of that specific area is that there were so many other towns nearby.  The official settlement of Poole most likely did not happen until civil war and a fire in the nearby town of Wareham forced the merchants to move elsewhere.  Poole would have been a great spot to defend since it was on a peninsula and surrounded by water on three sides.

No one knows exactly why or how Poole came into existence but what is certain is that by the early 1200’s, Poole was a thriving port town.  They had a town council, a mayor, a court system, and an annual market fair.  Over the years they were even given permission to export wool from the port which was a special privilege kept for important ports during the Middle Ages.

Poole during the late 14th and early 15th centuries was a time of fear and excitement.  In 1377, Poole was attacked by the French and part of the town was burnt to the ground.  In 1405, they were attacked again by the French and the Spanish.  The Spanish army landed at Poole and attacked a warehouse.  The Spanish and French then looted it.  The citizens of Poole were able to defend their town from complete invasion by arming themselves with longbows and using unattached doors as shields.  Over the next 150 years, defensive stone walls were built around the town, cannons were mounted on the port, and a fort was built on a nearby island.

Then, in the mid-17th century, civil war broke out all over England between the king and Parliament.  Poole staunchly supported Parliament.  Unlike other English towns that saw siege, invasion, and destruction, Poole was the site of only one encounter in which they slyly defeated their opponent.  A captain of the army at Poole, Francis Sydenham, agreed to trap the Royalist armies by pretending to deceive his own.  He told the Royalist army that for 40 pounds and a pardon he would “accidentally” leave the town’s double gates open.  He did and after the Royalist cavalry officers entered the first set of gates both sets were closed trapping the officers in between the gates.  Most of them escaped but they caused the town of Poole no further problems.  Over the next three centuries Poole had its ups-and-downs economically but all-in-all it has grown and prospered.

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