If you park at the top of the town centre and walk down through the main shopping street as we did recently, Christchurch presents a fairly uninspiring initial impression. The main street looks a bit down-at-heel, with a liberal sprinkling of charity shops. However, as you approach the bottom end of the main street you are confronted with an incredible sight: the imposing Christchurch Priory Church, which has the distinction of being the longest parish church in the country, and which resembles a cathedral in appearance, both outside and inside. The origins of the priory date back to at least the 11th century. The day we visited, the donations being collected from vistors were being diverted to the town’s namesake in New Zealand, which had just recently been badly damaged by an earthquake.
Beyond the Priory Church, a pathway leads through to the attractive Quay, which provides a recreational haven formed by the mouths of the rivers Avon and Stour. There is a cafe and a cafe bar, and it is possible to buy food for the many swans which congregate in the area, pursuing visitors in the hope of being fed. The harbour was formed 7,000 years ago when the sea level rose at the end of the last ice age, and in ancient times was an important port for the export of copper, gold, silver and iron, as well as for the import of goods such as wine and glass.
For events in Christchurch, see here.
Map of the area.