Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for CHRISTCHURCH

CHRISTCHURCH, a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred in Hants. The town stands on the peninsula at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Stour, and at the terminus of a branch-line from the Southampton and Dorchester railway, 1¾ mile from the sea, 10 miles NW by W of the Needles, and 21 SW by W of Southampton. It possibly was founded by the an cient British, or more probably by the Romans; and it has yielded traces of a Roman temple to Mars. It was known to the Saxons as Tweonea or Tweoxnea; and it is mentioned in the Saxon chronicle, in connexion with the contest for the crown, in 901, between Edward the Elder and his kinsman Ethelwald. The manor of it belonged, at Domesday, to the Crown, and bore then the name of Thuinam or Twineham; and it was given by Henry I. to Richard de Redvers, and passed to the Montacutes and the Nevilles. A monastery was founded at it by King Athelstan; rebuilt, as a collegiate church, by Flambard, the architect of Durham cathedral; and converted into an Augustinian priory, in 1150, by Baldwin de Redvers; and this occasioned the name to be changed into Christchurch, at first Christchurch-Twineham. Town-walls and a castle were erected by either Richard or Baldwin de Redvers.

The shell of the castle-keep, in many parts 12 feet thick, still stands on a mound; and a house of late Norman character, about 70 feet long and 24 wide, supposed to have been the residence of the governor, stands about 100 yards to the east. The priory church continues in good condition; has undergone recent extensive restorations; is partly used as the parish church; and ranks, in size and grandeur, with some of the cathedrals. It consists of nave and choir with aisles; a transept, with two eastern chapels in each wing; a Lady chapel, a western tower, and a north porch. The nave is 118¾ feet long, 58½ wide, and 58 high; the choir 70 feet long, 21¼ wide, and 63 high; the transept, 101 feet long and 24¼ wide; the Lady chapel, 36¼ feet long and 21 wide; the western tower, 120 feet high; the entire edifice, 311¼ feet long. The nave is of seven bays, Norman to the top of the triforium, and early English in the clerestory; the choir stands on a Norman crypt, consists mainly of perpendicular architecture, and is separated from the nave by a superb rood-screen, restored in 1848; the south transepts has two apsidal Norman chapels, the one above the other; the north transept has two early decorated ones; the Lady chapel is very rich perpendicular, with a fan vault. The western tower forms the west front, and is pierced with a great door and a six-light window; and the north porch is early English, projects more than 40 feet, and is approached through an avenue of elms. The chief monuments in the church are a sculpture, by Weeks, to the poet Shelley; a memorial window to Mr. Ferrey; a statue, by Flaxman, to Viscountess Fitzharris; a chantry, of Caen stone, to the Countess of Salisbury, mother of Cardinal Pole; and chantries, altar-tombs, or other monuments to the fourth Earl of Devon, Bishop Draper, Robert Harys, John Barnes, Robert White, Sir John Chidioke, and Sir Thomas West. Some fragments of the domestic conventual buildings are on the south; the convent garden is on the south-east; and a shaded walk, which bore the name of Paradise, and still bears that name, is adjacent.

The town consists of two principal streets, and a few minor ones. It has a head post office, ‡ a railway station, two banking offices, one principal and several smaller inns, a recently erected town-hall, two bridges, an Independent chapel of 1867, in the Italian style, with a spire, a Wesleyan chapel, several good schools, a work-house, and some charities. It is a sub-port to Southampton, and a coast-guard station; is famous for its salmon fishery; and publishes a weekly newspaper. Fairs are held on Trinity-Thursday and 17 Oct.; and the manufacture of fusee chains for clocks and watches, the brewing of ale, and a trade in knit and silk stockings are carried on. The town is a borough by prescription; it sent two members to parliament from the time of Elizabeth till the act of 1832, and now sends one; and it is nominally governed by a mayor, a clerk, and a body of burgesses. The old borough was conterminate with one of eight tythings of the parish; but the new borough includes other tythings, and also the parish of Holdenhurst. Real property in 1860, £6, 153. Direct taxes in 1857, £4, 791. Electors in 1868, 419. Pop. of the old borough in 1841, 1, 922. Pop. of the new borough in 1851, 7, 475; in 1861, 9, 368. Houses, 1,832. Edward VI. visited the town in 1522. Bingley, the naturalist, was curate here; and Warner, the topographer, and Admiral Sir Harry Neale, were educated in the public school.

The parish includes the hamlet of Hinton-Admiral, and the tythings of Burse, Burton, Street, Winkton, Hurn, Iford, Parley, and Tuckton. Acres, 24, 9855; of which 345 are water. Real property, £32, 436. Pop., 7, 042. Houses, 1, 444. The property is much subdivided. Heron Court is the seat of the Earl of Malmsbury; Boscombe-Lodge, of Sir Percy Shelley, Esq., Bart.; and Belvidere, of J. Griffiths, Esq. St. Catherine's Hill, about 1¾ mile NW of the town, consists of rolled gravel; has, on the SW side, remains of an ancient small square camp; and is crowned, at various points, by circular mounds, which may have been watch-towers. Hengistbury-Head or Christchurch-Head, projecting into the sea, 2 miles SE of the town, consists of ironstone, which supplied the material for the Castle and the Priory, and is now quarried for exportation to Wales; and it is cut off from the sea by an ancient broad trench, with a single lofty vallum, flanked by some irregular mounds. An incurvature on the coast, commencing at Hengistbury-Head, extending 7½ miles to the east, and measuring at the furthest 2 miles northward, bears the name of Christ-church bay; and, in consequence of its peculiar position with reference to the Isle of Wight and to neighbouring headlands, has high-water twice every tide. The mouth of the Avon enters the west side of the bay, immediately within Hengistbury-Head; but, though expanding inwardly into a capacious harbour, is rendered of small value to navigation by narrowness of entrance and a bar. The living is a vicarage, united with the p. curacy of Holdenhurst, in the diocese of Winchester. Value, £166.* Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. The p. curacics of Bransgore, Hinton-Admiral, Bournemouth-St. Peter, Bournemouth-Holy Trinity, Highcliffe, and Pokesdown are separate benefices.

The sub-district and the district are co-extensive; and consist of the parishes of Christchurch,Holdenhurst, and Sopley. Acres, 36, 775. Poor-rates, in 1862, £4, 291. Pop. in 1841, 7, 838; in 1861, 10, 438. Houses, 2, 064. Marriages, in 1860, 71; births, 285, -of which 23 were illegitimate; deaths, 175, -of which 47 were at ages under 5 years, and 6 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 641; births, 2, 795; deaths, 1, 741. The places of worship in 1851, were 8 of the Church of England, with 2, 950 sittings; 8 of Independents, with 2, 082 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 200 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 256 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 50 s. The schools were 21 public day schools, with 1, 118 scholars; 29 private day schools, with 468 s.; and 20 Sunday schools, with 1, 445 s. -The hundred is cut into lower half and upper half; the former in Ringwood division, and comprising Sopley and Christchurch parishes, exclusive of Christchurch old borough; the latter in Lymington division, and comprising three parishes and part of another. Acres of the l. half, 29, 385; of the u. half, 24, 862. Pop. of the l. half, 5, 275; of the u. half, 4, 063. Houses, 1, 108 and 821.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Christchurch CP/AP       Christchurch Hundred       Christchurch SubD       Christchurch RegD       Hampshire AncC
Place names: CHRISTCHURCH     |     TWEONEA     |     TWEOXNEA
Place: Christchurch

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.