Christchurch sits at the confluence of two rivers – the Avon and the Stour. Research indicates it began as an early Saxon settlement originally known as Tweoxneam (Twynham) from Old English meaning between two rivers.
The name we know the town by today came into use after the construction of the Priory in 1094. Still standing today, it is one of the largest churches in England and one of the few monastery Churches to have survived Henry VIII’s rule.
During the Middle Ages Christchurch saw a castle built, the introduction of a weekly market and an annual fair, both of which are traditions to this day. The castle was demolished in 1652 but the ruins remain for all to see.
As well as the beautiful Priory Church and Christchurch Castle, there is also a bustling Quay with some lovely riverside walks, and a selection of great pubs, cafes and restaurants. You can also hire small motorboats on the River Stour or take a ferry from the Quay to Mudeford Sandbank where there are stunning sandy beaches and views towards the Isle of Wight and The Needles.
Stanpit Marsh is a 65-hectare (160-acre) nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest. During the 18th century it was notorious for smugglers landing tobacco and rum in the narrow channels of Christchurch Harbour. It contains areas of salt marsh and freshwater marsh with reed beds and is home to grazing horses, rare birds, and 14 species of rare or endangered plants.
To the north of Christchurch is St Catherine's Hill, the highest part of the borough at 53 metres (174 ft) above sea level. This hill is the most southerly of a chain of three hills, some 3 miles (4.8 km) long with 35-hectare (86-acre) area of heathland and coniferous forest. Due to its commanding views, St. Catherine's Hill has been in use since prehistoric times as a look-out area and beacon and in more recent years served as a military training ground. The hill is home to protected and rare wildlife species, including the Dartford warbler, nightjar, and the sand lizard.
Good to know:
Christchurch infant school, Addiscombe Road, 01202 485851
Christchurch Junior School, Clarendon Road, 01202 485579
Mudeford Infant School, Queens Road, 01202 485513
Mudeford Junior School, Mudeford Lane, 01202 473217
Somerford Nursery & Infant Community School, Draper Road, 01202 485436
St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Dorset Road, 01202 485976
The Grange School, Redvers Road, 01202 486536
The Priory CofE Primary School, Wick Lane, 01202 484105
Twynham School, Sopers Lane, 01202 486237
Burton CofE Primary School, Campbell Road, 01202 482588
Bournemouth Town Centre – 5.3m by foot, 6.6m by car
Southbourne – 2.1m
Castlepoint shopping centre – 3.4m
New Forest – 5m
Southampton – 30m
London (Trafalgar square) 103m