Christchurch Priory :it's a miracle

Christchurch Priory BH23 1BU stands at the meeting point of the Stour and Avon Rivers and has looked down on the town of the same name for over 900 years.

It is an imposing building and worth a visit whether you are Christian or not.

christchurch priory

If you are coming by car there is a car park to the south of Priory ,not free I am afraid,but close.The railway station is however about a kilometer away.

Entry is via the North Porch where you are greeted by a volunteer who gives you a brief guide to the Church.Entry is free though a £2 donation is requested.

The present building was started in 1094.The naive and transepts are built mostly in the heavy Norman style.The Lady Chapel at the east end of the Church depitcs events from the life of Mary.

There is a loft museum situated above this chapel reached by climbing 75 steps though on the day I was there was closed.The Church relies on volunteers to show people round.No volunteers, no entry.

This museum was originally a school for novice monks and was later used as a grammar school until the 19th century.

You can climb the 176 steps to the Tower as long as you are accompanied by a guide.From the top of this 15th century bell tower there are great views of the town and harbour.

Look out for the Miraculous Beam which is high up to your right as you look at the Lady Chapel.Legend has it that the original beam used to hold up the roof was too short when originally cut by the carpenters involved in the construction of the church.They were embarrassed as the wood was expensive coming as it did from the New Forest

But there was one carpenter who always worked alone and never ate with the others.Well the day after the carpenters discovered the the beam was too short they arrived to find the beam was now in place and a bit longer that needed.

The carpenter was never seen again and it was though the man was Jesus the carpenter.Now the Church was called the Church of Holy Trinity but after the miracle the name was changed to Christchurch.The town too went from the name Twynham to Christchurch.

To the North East of the Church lie the ruins of Christchurch Castle which was built around 1100.It became the centre piece during the civil war siege when a Parliamentary force held the castle against a Royalist army.The reverse of what happened at Corfe Castle. Just like Corfe castle though it was demolished after the civil war.

On the other side of the bowling green that is adjacent to the castle is the Contstable Building an early example of domestic architecture including a rare Norman Chimney.

Before getting back in your car go through the car park and you will arrive at Christchurch Quay.

Straight in front of you is Place Mill BH23 1BY a building which is so old it gets a mention in the Doomsday Book having a value of 30s.

place mill

From my observation is has all the parts that you find in a mill but I got the impression they have not moved for some time.The building is now used as a gift shop on the ground floor and a gallery of work by local artists upstairs.It it also used as a rehearsal room by musicians.When I was there a trio of flute bass and piano were belting out the numbers.

Almost opposite the Place Mill is a tea room if you require sustenance after which you can take a ferry down to Mudeford Sandbanks being the point where the river enters the sea.This will allow you access to Hengistbury Head a Site of Scientific Interest.

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