Living in Christchurch
What is life like in Christchurch
Despite its reputation for being a favourite among older people, Christchurch is an incredibly fun and lively place to live.
It is a large enough town to boast good shops and a range of places to eat and drink, while being small enough to retain a strong community spirit and a truly local feel. Transport links to the rest of Dorset and beyond are excellent, making Christchurch a pleasant place to live by the sea, and popular among those who work elsewhere.
Even if people do tire of the town, there is an even busier and younger atmosphere in Bournemouth, which is right next door. Bournemouth too is famous for its golden sands and crystal clear water, so people who wish to be close to its attractions while living in a slightly more relaxed setting should consider Christchurch.
Taking a stroll along the promenade to soak up the sun and take a look at the many yachts that line the shore is a great way to spend time in Christchurch.
And if there is a need to get out of the town to escape into the countryside, the magnificent New Forest National Park is only a few miles away and promises plenty of beautiful panoramas and a thriving wildlife scene.
The history of Christchurch dates back to about 650 AD, when it was founded by missionaries who were sent to the area by St Birinus. They initially settled on an area of raised land positioned between the rivers Avon and Stour.
Fishing became the primary industry in Christchurch and this thrived for many years, although the harbour suffered at the hands of shifting sandbars.
By the 19th century, the manufacture of fusee chains had become a crucial industry in Christchurch, following the decision to locate the Hart's Fusee Factory there. It was built in 1845 and provided ample employment opportunities to local people.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Christchurch also became synonymous with smuggling, mainly due to the fact it was so easy to access from neighbouring towns. In addition, the difficult harbour entrance proved to be a barrier to customs.
In 1847, the railways came to the town and a new station was built in 1862, close to where the station stands today. This made it accessible to visitors and tourism began to increase at a steady rate.
From the mid-18th century, there was an increase in housing developments and the population rapidly expanded. More projects were undertaken in the 20th century, including the creation of a large housing estate in the 1950s.
Hollywood star Christian Bale once attended Bournemouth School for Boys and lived in the area, while his mother still resides there today.
Chat show host Jonathan Ross is also clearly a fan of the region, as he once bought a home in nearby Swanage.
The Captain's Club Hotel is frequently used by A-listers, with Take That and Noel Gallagher known to have stayed there.
Entertainment, sport and days out
The Regent Centre is the hub of entertainment in Christchurch, as it contains both a theatre and a cinema. All types of shows are put on at the venue, from the latest Hollywood films to live music performances, operas and dramas.
An excellent programme of events takes place throughout the year, including the Mudeford Arts Festival, the Annual Duck Race and Stompin' on the Quamps. A little further afield, the Great Dorset Steam Fair is always a hit and is popular with Christchurch locals.
Highcliffe Castle, the Red House Museum and the Christchurch Priory are just some of the places people should visit when living in the town.
It is just three miles or so to the New Forest National Park boundary and this area is hugely popular with locals. The New Forest's famously flat landscape makes it the ideal place for walking and cycling, while it is also renowned for its native ponies.
All types of watersports can be enjoyed in Christchurch and the surrounding area, with the Dorset coast a haven for surfers, sailors and all types of fellow sportspeople.
Southbourne and Mudeford are among the most beautiful towns in the surrounding area and are well worth visiting. Both destinations boast wonderful unspoilt beaches and green, picturesque settings that are ideal for a spot of sunbathing or a pleasant stroll.
In addition to the beaches, Mudeford is home to a stylish quay and is popular with water sports enthusiasts, while Southbourne offers the remarkable Hengistbury Head nature reserve.
Eating, drinking & shopping
The Boathouse, which sits on the quay by the water's edge, is a highly recommended venue for a delicious dinner. It serves freshly caught fish and is popular with many of the town's residents.
Many of the pubs are committed to using locally produced food and drinks, while the town is home to everything from AA rosette winning restaurants to fish and chip shops. The Harbour Restaurant and Terrace, The Jetty, The Lord Bute and Captain's Club Hotel Restaurant are just a few of the places to look out for.
The Manor and The Oak Inn are two of the pubs that everyone in Christchurch should try out.
For shopping, the Saxon Square centre is the prime destination and somewhere people in need of a spot of retail therapy should visit. It boasts a wide range of stores, including the likes of Argos, Boots and WHSmith.
Schools & healthcare
There are several excellent schools in Christchurch, including Mudeford Junior, which Ofsted rates as being 'outstanding'. Christchurch Junior, the Priory C of E and St Joseph's Catholic are all said to be performing well.
When looking at secondary schools in the town, Twynham is a prestigious and highly successful option, while Highcliffe also has an excellent reputation and good facilities. As an alternative, the Grange is good and moving in the right direction.
Top-notch medical facilities are available at Christchurch Hospital, where locals will be able to seek treatment for all manner of injuries and illnesses.
The A35 is the main route through the town and connects Christchurch with nearby Bournemouth, while the A338 leading to inland Dorset and the New Forest is not too far away. Train links in the region are excellent, with services to Bournemouth taking eight minutes to complete, while it is 49 minutes to Southampton.
There is also a service from Christchurch to London, with trains taking less than two hours to reach Waterloo, ensuring there is a good connection between the Dorset coast and the capital.
It is also only ten minutes in the car to Bournemouth Airport, which is located in the borough of Christchurch. The airport's position is incredibly handy for all tourists and businesspeople looking to travel overseas.