Christchurch is both a borough and a town east of Bournemouth. The town nestles around Christchurch Harbour that has been the site of settlements since the Iron Age. Originally developed as Twynham, the Normans decided to replace the Saxon church, which had stood since 800 AD, with a grand new building.

Legend has it that when building the present Priory one of the roof beams was cut too short. The carpenters not knowing what to do left for the day but when they came back the next day the beam had extended overnight to fit exactly. They attributed this miracle to Jesus, also a carpenter, and the church and town became known as Christ’s Church.

Christchurch has a large and sheltered harbour with a quayside and as such, is a place of fascination. The older part of the town dominated by the magnificent Priory Church, dates from Saxon times and still retains its Saxon street layout. It is an interesting mixture of picturesque walks, quaint houses, restaurants, specialist shops, public houses, some of which date back to smuggling times.

Christchurch Priory is considered the finest church in England and at 311 feet long it is the longest. It’s an impressive building with a distinctive Norman style. You can also spot three Gothic architectural styles, early English, Decorated and Perpendicular and Tudor Renaissance. The inside is beautiful with tall arches sweeping up above, stunning decorated reredos and you can see the miraculous beam in the Ambulatory.

The beautiful thatched Old Court House in Castle Street dates in parts from the 12th century and was where the Mayor and chief officials of the borough were sworn in each year. Nowadays it is known as the New Forest Perfumery and Tea Rooms and it specialises in the fragrances of the New Forest.


To find out more about the history of Christchurch, visit the Red House Museum and Gardens. Built as a parish workhouse in 1764, this historic building now houses outstanding collections of local and social history. Highlights include the Archaeology Galleries, the Herbert Druitt Costume Gallery and the Arthur Romney Green 1930’s Gallery.

There’s always something new to see with its regularly changing

temporary exhibitions of art, crafts, photography, local and natural history. Exhibitions range from the work of local societies and artists, to major touring exhibitions and shows on loan from national institutions.

Regular high quality family activities are held throughout the year. Most temporary exhibitions incorporate workshops, holiday activities, interactive displays or evening lectures. The Museum’s workshops let younger visitors take part in a fun, hands-on way. There are also activities for the grown-ups, with various lectures and workshops on historical themes.

A visit to the Red House Museum would not be complete without a tea or coffee in the beautiful gardens. You will also find unusual items, and gifts for all occasions in the Museum shop.

Two miles to the east of Christchurch, lying at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour is Mudeford. Traditionally

linked with smuggling over the

centuries, it is still the focal point of the local fishing industry. Lobster pots, old fishermen’s cottages and a quayside inn, make this the most picturesque of settings.

You can see the fishermen unloading their catches and watch the yachts and dinghies sail up the fast flowing ‘Run’ into the safety of Christchurch Harbour. It is the perfect spot to sit and watch the world go by and you can even have a try at crabbing!

Right in the centre of the High Street at the entrance to Saxon Square is the Old Town Hall also known as the Mayor’s Parlour. This attractive open- arched building as originally built elsewhere in the High Street and was moved to its present position in the mid 19th century.

Walk a little further along, one of the finest examples of an early 1930s cinema to survive in Britain, The Regent Centre, is found. Originally opened in 1931 as the town’s cinema, an uncertain future in 1970’s was followed by its purchase in 1982 by Christchurch Borough Council. A unique relationship was formed between the local authority and a group of over 100 enthusiastic volunteers. Together, they lovingly restored The Regent to all its early Art Deco glory, reopening in 1983 as a very successful cinema, theatre, concert hall, art gallery and entertainment centre. We hope you enjoy these pages: please leave for the enjoyment of others 17

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