The Dorset Historic Towns Project report on Christchurch.

Christchurch has a distinctive historic character reflecting both its origins as a Saxon burh and its maritime associations. The historic core of Christchurch sits on a gravel ridge which has shaped the town's layout. The earliest settlement was around the Saxon Minster church on the site of the present Priory Church at the southern tip of the ridge and the town developed slowly northwards, and the core retains the character of a historic town, despite the rapid proliferation of housing estates from the late 19th century onwards. This character is further distinguished by its maritime connection, including the harbour, salt marshes and sandy beaches of Christchurch bay, still dominated by the Priory.

Christchurch had two medieval extramural suburbs at Bridge Street and Bargates. Bridge Street retains significant character whilst the historic character of Bargates was disturbed by the construction of the by-pass.

The historic centres of Purewell, Stanpit and Mudeford retain important historic street frontages which form a continuous link around the harbour and the town centre via Bridge Street. The cluster of buildings at Staple Cross retain a village feel, but the former medieval hamlets at Bure, Somerford, Nea and Hoburne do not retain their character so well, being subsumed into the suburban housing estates of Somerford and Highcliffe. A group of 18th-century cottages at Chewton Common retain their character but are backed by a modern housing estate occupying former common land. The 19th century settlements at Walkford and Highcliffe Newtown have retained their period feel. North of the town centre medieval settlement is characterised by dispersed farms (Grove Farm and Bosley) set in enclosed fields and common, now absorbed into the inter-war suburban development.

Summary report

Here is a summary of the report (February 2011).

Detailed sections of the report

We have broken down the full report into individual sections, please select one of the parts to read:

Senior Archaeologist, Promotion and Liaison

Name: Claire Pinder
Tel: 01305 224921
Full contact details