An Introduction to the History of Christchurch

Richard Randerson

Location of Christchurch

 

Christchurch lies on the south coast of England between Bournemouth and the New Forest, historically in Hampshire but with local government reorganisation in 1974 it became the most easterly Borough in Dorset.

An Audio-Visual Taster of Christchurch

To assist visitors to Christchurch who are not familiar with what the town has to offer, this video is included courtesy of Eric Montague, a former Member of Christchurch History Society, on behalf of Netfora Limited who retain all rights to the content of the video.

As the video was produced some years ago certain attractions such as The Museum of Electricity, which has now closed, may not be as portrayed in the video and the visitor should check prior to visiting the town.

A History of Christchurch in Brief

The town originates from approximately 350 AD.    The church was founded by missionaries sent to Wessex by St Birinus, the first Bishop of Dorchester on Thames and its close proximity to the Cherbourg Peninsula in France made it an important trading port and a potential target for invasion during a number of wars. Situated on a stretch of raised, and well drained, land at the lowest crossing points of the river Avon and the river Stour, it was originally known as Tweoxneam (Twynham) from Old English betweoxn (between) and éam (rivers). Christchurch, listed as Twynham, has two entries in the Domesday Book, being part of the Edgegate Hundred, with forty-seven households. Christchurch’s importance derives from the two rivers which carried people and their wares to and from settlements such as Blandford, and until about 1735 boats of up to 25 tons were able to travel up the river Avon as far as Salisbury.

Castle Street Christchurch, Dorset 1855

Castle Street Christchurch, Dorset 1855

 

Boscombe Hill at Christchurch

Boscombe Hill at Christchurch. 1920

The Christchurch Local History Society, which in 2011 became Christchurch History Society, has erected nineteen plaques around the centre of Christchurch on buildings of historic interest, or as close to the original location following redevelopment having taken place1.     The plaques are used in some virtual tours of the Priory Area, the Bargates Area and the High Street Area of Christchurch.      The plaques are located at the following places (the numbers in brackets refer to their reference in Christchurch Millennium Trail leaflet)  :-

  1. Saxon Cemetery – More information in the Bargate Historic Walk on this Website (4)
  2. Pound – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (5)
  3. Bargate – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (6)
  4. Town Hall – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (7)
  5. Site of Robert Cox’s House – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (38)
  6. George and Dragon Inn (The George) – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (11)
  7. 6/6a Castle Street – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (12)
  8. Perfumery (New Forest Perfumery and Tea Rooms) – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (13)
  9. Convent Walk – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (18)
  10. Place Mill – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (21)
  11. Priory House – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (22)
  12. Workhouse (now the Red House Museum) – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (24)
  13. Saxon Defences – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (25)
  14. Tram Turntable – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (26)
  15. Priory Courthouse – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (28)
  16. Bookends – More information in the Priory Historic Walk on this Website (34)
  17. Regent Centre – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (37)
  18. Old Tolsey – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (40)
  19. Bow House – More information in the High Street Historic Walk on this Website (43)

1 Details in Christchurch Blue Plaque Millennium Trail Booklet published by Christchurch Borough Council

 

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