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Christchurch - historic towns survey

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.

Here is a summary (pdf, 116kb) (opens in a new window). The full report (February 2011) is below. We would welcome your comments. Please send any feedback to the Senior Archaeologist (Promotion and Liaison).

Part 1 and 2 Introduction and overview (pdf, 341kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 3 and 4 Context and sources (pdf, 356kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.1 and 5.2 Historical development - Saxon (pdf, 481kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.3 and 5.4 Historical development - Norman and Medieval (pdf, 594kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.5 and 5.6 Historical development - Post-medieval, late eighteenth and nineteenth century (pdf, 870kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.7 Historical development - Early twentieth century (pdf, 456kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 5.8 Historical development - Later twentieth century (pdf, 457kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Character appraisal (pdf, 371kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 1 The Burh (pdf, 667kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 2 Quomps and the Stour flood plain (pdf, 699kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 3 Bargates (pdf, 708kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 4 Portfield Housing Estate (pdf, 485kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 5 Avon Industrial Zone (pdf, 618kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 6 Hospital and Workhouse (pdf, 770kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 7 Fairmile and Bosley Housing Estates (pdf, 825kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 8 Stour Meadows (pdf, 268kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 9 Bridge Street (pdf, 548kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 10 Priory and Rossiter's Quays (pdf, 606kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 11 Avon Meads (pdf, 494kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 12 Stanpit Marsh (pdf, 393kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 13 Purewell (pdf, 459kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 14 Staple Cross (pdf, 418kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 15 Roeshott and Somerfield Retail Park (pdf, 458kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 16 Stanpit (pdf, 675kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 17 Mudeford (pdf, 501kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 18 Somerford Estates and Former Airfield (pdf, 270kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 19 Bure (pdf, 606kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 20 Hoburne (pdf, 498kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 21 Highcliffe North Estate (pdf, 445kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 22 Highcliffe Castle and Beach (pdf, 483kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 23 Walkford (pdf, 442kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 24 Chewton Common and Glen (pdf, 502kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 6 Historic Urban Character Area 25 Highcliffe Newtown (pdf, 449kb) (opens in a new window)

Part 7 Research and appendices (pdf, 216kb) (opens in a new window) 

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