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Photos of the south coast town of Christchurch in Dorset, southern England, UK
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Christchurch, Dorset
Coastal town in the south of England
(Photos © urban75, June 2010, updated August 2011)

A borough and town in the county of Dorset, Christchurch has become a popular home for old folks with around a third of its 45,000 population being over 65 years old.

Located at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Stour which flow into Christchurch Harbour, the town was originally named Twynham but was renamed after the construction of the priory in 1094.

A big hangout for smugglers in the 18th and 19th centuries, the town's harbour, beaches, nature reserves and historically important buildings have made Christchurch a popular tourist destination, hauling in around 1.5 million visitors a year.

We paid it a visit during a hot June weekend in 2010.

An impressive floral display greeted us as we walked into the town centre from the station.

'Christchurch - where time is pleasant.' A bold claim indeed!

Slightly unsettling advertising for an ice cream shop.

High Street, Christchurch.


Church Street.

Christchurch Priory, which dates back to at least the middle of the 11th century, which was built on the site of an earlier church dating from 800AD.

The church - and subsequently the town - took its name from the supposed 'Miraculous beam' as Wikipedia explains:

The legend of the miraculous beam dates to the early 12th century. The story is that a beam was found to have been cut too short when it was hoisted into place. This would have been embarrassing for the carpenters since the wood was expensive and would be difficult to replace.

There was however a mysterious carpenter who had worked and ate alone. The day following the discovery, when the carpenters returned they found the beam was in place and it now fitted.

The unknown carpenter was never seen again, and the story came to be that it was Jesus Christ who had intervened. The church became Christ's Church of Twynham in commemoration of the event[4]. In time the town became Twynham-Christchurch and eventually shortened to Christchurch. The beam can be seen today and is located in the Priory's Ambulatory.

Read more: [Christchurch Priory]

Priory detail.


Christchurch harbour.

Old sign for the Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch.

The ruins of the Constable's House on the bank of the mill stream.

Built around 1160, the house was built in the bailey on the bank of the mill stream and remains a superb example of Norman domestic architecture.

[Read more]


The old bridge over the River Avon.

Bowls game in progress.

Medieval stone foot bridge.


The winning design for a competition held to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the building of Christchurch Priory (1094-1994) is this rather strange offering by Jonathon Sells.

A fear of being buried alive led the owner of this mausoleum to request that her body not be interred, nor her coffin lid screwed down, and that it should be placed at the entrance to the priory's school so that the pupils would hear if she revived.

When her husband died 20 years later in 1803 her body was removed and the structure flogged off and re-erected in Priory Gardens.

[Listed buildings of Christchurch]


The remains of Christchurch Castle, a motte and bailey construction, probably of Norman origin.


Looking over the town from the old castle.

The oldest council house in the borough, the Perfumery is a 14th century thatched property known as the old courthouse (although many local historians reckon it was actually next door).


Harbour view.

This robin was very friendly!


Taking a walk to the Hengistbury Head nature reserve.

Historians have uncovered evidence indicating that Hengistbury Head was occupied from the Stone Age to the Iron Age and during the Roman Occupation of Britain.

The area was used for smuggling towards the end of the 18th century

There's a lovely sandy beach at Hengistbury.


Bring on the West Country real dairy ice cream!

Crossing the river at the Wick Christchurch Ferry Landing, which has been running for over 200 years.

Boats a-bobbing in the harbour.


Delightful Victorian bandstand by the quay, which holds occasional brass, orchestral and light music concerts.

Christchurch bridge over the river Avon.

The old Regent Cinema.

Christchurch railway station.


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