When it comes to Dorset you’re never too far from seaside, countryside and heritage attractions, but if you can’t decide which of those things you want for a day out, head to Christchurch, where you’ll find beaches, heritages attractions, a picturesque harbour, a bustling town and plenty of greenery with its abundance of nature reserves.
Immerse yourself in local history
Christchurch’s two historic quays, two castles and the priory mean that you can have a historical field day! The Priory is one of the few monastery churches to have survived Henry VIII’s rule where churches and other religious buildings were purged in the reformation and the following confusion as the country leaned back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism.
The Christchurch Priory was built in the 11th century and the medieval roof still exists including the Miraculous Beam, which can be found above the south aisle and was once the object of pilgrimages. Apparently, when it was first being built, the beam was too small, but miraculous became the right side overnight! So, it’s no wonder that it drew so many people to come and see it.
It isn’t just the Priory to see on the site, you’ll also find a 12th Century Castle and Constable’s house which is now ruins, a tomb for the Countess of Salisbury and a memorial for Percy Bysshe Shelley, who lived in nearby Bournemouth. One popular thing to do while in the area is to take the Tower Tour and climb to the top for some amazing views over Christchurch and the harbour.
Plenty to see and do
Usually, there are a whole host of events that take place throughout the year in Christchurch including the annual Food Festival which is hugely popular and takes place every May. The festival takes over the high street for the duration of the event and features over 100 stalls full of locally sourced food, drink and gifts. It’s an absolute must if you’re visiting during May. This year, things are a bit different due to social distancing etc, so make sure to check local information for the most up to date details on local events.
Take a trip to the beach
Christchurch boasts around four miles of beautiful coastline and being sandwiched between the New Forest and Bournemouth, there are plenty of opportunities for sunbathing and picnicking in glorious surroundings. The town has six sandy beaches, all with their own charms and all perfect for a family day out, whether that’s for a swim, to build sandcastles or just for a gentle stroll with the sand between your toes.
For a less sandy water-based day of fun, why not hire a boat for a few hours and explore one of the two rivers or enjoy the two historic quays? There are plenty of family-friendly attractions and activities to be found around the water, including walking trails and a splash park.
Like most of Dorset, Christchurch is famed for the abundance of fresh, local produce. With the diversity of the landscape and having both coast and country at their disposal, the farmers and fishmongers of the town provide some of the best produce in the region.
The town also has a number of connections to well known chefs and top name eateries, so whether you want a romantic meal as the sun sets over the quay or some fish and chips out of the paper on the seafront, you’ll find the most delicious food and drink on offer here.
Christchurch’s thriving high street is also full of places to go for a bite to eat, there are a number of independent cafes and pubs lining the town centre for you to stop off for a break while exploring or shopping.
There is so much to see and do in this delightful town that you might be tempted to stay awhile, luckily, there is an abundance of hotels and guesthouses in and around the town to choose from!