Christchurch Priory church and Victorian Bandstand (c) Nigel Freeman
Christchurch Priory church and Victorian Bandstand

A market town set between the rivers Stour and Avon, Christchurch has been settled since at least the Iron Age, and during the Saxon period it became a 'burh', or fortified town. The remains of a Norman castle keep look down on the river from atop a high mound, or motte.

Below the keep is The Great Chamber, a stone building that was once one of the castle buildings.

There was a monastery here in the Middle Ages, and the current parish church once served the monks of Christchurch Priory.

The church was begun around 1094 and rebuilt in 1510 in Perpendicular style. At 311 feet in length it is the longest parish church in the country. It was awarded a 5-star rating in Simon Jenkin's book, 'England's Thousand Best Churches'.